Chilli Vodka is an exciting addition to cocktails. But there is a skill to creating the perfect blend tailored to your tastes. Follow my guide to create your ideal heat level.
I've gone back and forth mentally over publishing a recipe for Chilli Vodka. My hesitation comes because the heat from chillis, at least where I can shop, varies so much from batch to batch. Those labelled as 'hot' are often only mildly spicy whereas a supposed 'mild' chilli will occasionally pack a punch I'm not expecting.
My case in point was cooking for my in-laws last weekend. I pulled a chilli from a pack I'd already cooked with, finding the heat previously to be barely noticable. So I threw a hefty load into my sauce, tasted and took a step back in surprise. Then I apologised to my Mother-in-law who enjoys, but struggles to eat really spicy food right now.
With this inconsistency in heat, instructing people to make a batch of Chilli Vodka just as I say is dangerous territory:
- Using a chilli that turns out to be exceptionally mild will mean the vodka is lacking in flavour
- And of course, getting an unusually fiery chilli might mean that a long infusion is a little too punchy to be pleasant
- Finally, let's face it, we all have our preferred spice level. There is no point ordering the spiciest dish on the menu if you're really into mildly spiced food
There are just so many pitfalls with a Chilli Vodka recipe. However, I have two superb cocktails involving Chilli Vodka that are ripe and ready to publish over the next few weeks, so I'm taking the plunge.
But to help you achieve a drink that you, rather than I, will enjoy I've got some handy guidance:
- Use a cannot fail fiery variety - Birds Eye
- Make this vodka on a day where you are on hand and not required to drive or operate machinery since you'll need to keep on testing (ie tasting) the vodka at regular intervals. Doesn't that sound ideal? Hic... But it's also very necessary, since there's no better way to ensure you end up with some Chilli Vodka tailored to your tastebuds than to keep on testing it yourself
- Set a timer so you don't accidentally leave your infusion for too long between tastings
- Taste, taste and keep on tasting. Stop when it's hot enough for you, regardless of whether that's one hour or 12 hours of infusing
- Take into account how you intend to drink the Chilli Vodka - neat or diluted with mixers
- If you decide that the batch you have made is, in hindsight, too strong, don't throw it out. You could just dilute it with regular vodka - use 1 part chilli vodka to 3 parts regular vodka in your cocktails. It also makes an exciting gift for foodie/ drinkie/ adventurous friends - decant into small bottles and gift away
- Don't forget to clearly label your infusion
That's my rough guide to making Chilli Vodka. My ideal infusion time is 3 hours, but Chris likes it slightly hotter and prefers the 6 hour infusion. This makes sense, since he will order much spicier dishes than me in a restaurant. Find your heat level and stick to it.
A Rough Guide To Making Chilli Vodka
- 250ml (1 cup) Quality vodka
- 1 Red Birds Eye chilli
- Put the vodka into a wide-necked screwtop jar
- Slit the chilli lengthways and add to the vodka
- Seal, shake gently and leave to infuse for 1 hour
- Dip a teaspoon into the vodka, remove and taste
- IF IT IS AT A HEAT LEVEL YOU ARE HAPPY WITH STOP HERE - STRAIN THROUGH A SIEVE TO REMOVE THE CHILLI AND SEEDS AND POUR INTO A BOTTLE
- Otherwise infuse for a further hour, test again, and continue in this way until the desired heat level is achieved (I like a 3 hour infusion, but tastes vary - please read my guidance notes in my blog post to achieve your perfect blend)
- Once the desired spice level is achieved, remove all of the chilli and it's seeds and decant into a bottle
- CLEARY label the bottle - helps avoid accidental use