Perfect steaks, meltingly tender pork, vegetables bursting with flavour – there’s no end to the success stories of sous vide. But as more of us get our hands on the kit, we’re starting to see the methods work their way into every aspect of food and drink. Cocktails have always been the height of sophistication, but in the past few years the world’s best bartenders have been pushing the boundaries of what makes a great drink, putting as much thought and time into their creations as Michelin-starred chefs do with their menus. Vacuum sealers and water baths are two of the key pieces of equipment helping both professionals and home cooks use their cocktail cabinet in exciting new ways.
In the video above, world-class bartender Rich Woods shows us how to infuse spirits in just an hour using sous vide. With traditional methods such as steeping this can take months, as you can’t heat up the liquid – doing so would cause the alcohol and its flavours to evaporate. But in a vacuum-sealed bag, the mixture can be placed in a warm water bath without losing anything.
Once the alcohol has been left to infuse for forty-five minutes, it just needs straining through a coffee filter and you’re rewarded with a rich, velvety liquid that’s perfect for using in cocktails.
Rich uses beetroot and chocolate and pea and mint to flavour vodka and gin, but you can include whatever you like. Fresh fruit of all kinds works wonders, while herbs and spices can add an interesting, unique flavour. If you want to amplify certain botanicals in gin, such as juniper or cardamom, adding the berries or pods to the liquid and placing it in the sous vide lets you bend the flavour to your personal preferences. And because you can include as little or as much alcohol as you like, you’re free to experiment with smaller batches until you find one that suits your palate.