Recently, a friend gave me a piece of ginger he had grown at Elmore Roots Nursery. The basket, from which he retrieved it, held several pounds of gnarled rhizomes—so fresh that moist soil clung to the knobs and fissures. To capture its essence I decided to preserve the ginger in a neutral alcohol, and add traditional Thai accents of lime peel and cayenne: just enough to give it a bit of snap. Try this infusion in a martini—shaken not stirred—garnished with a curl of lime peel for color. A bottle like this makes a terrific gift so plan ahead as you want to allow the flavoring agents to meld with the vodka over a week’s time. Be forewarned, this libation is not for the faint of heart. If you like your spirits with a bit of a kick, prepare to be kicked.Purchase a bottle of medium shelf vodka to make an infusion. A pure the neutral spirit is merely the medium for the flavorings. You don’t need to spend too much on the spirits as the ingredient you add will carry the show. The better the quality of the flavoring agents, the better the result.
One 750 ml bottle of vodka
Fresh ginger, a piece the size of your thumb
Peel from 1 lime
2 dried cayenne peppers (2 to 3 inches long)
Wash the ginger root and use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin.
Slice into pieces the thickness of a quarter.
Use a vegetable peeler to remove the peel from a lime. Try to get as little pith (the white undercoating) as possible. Reserve the lime flesh for another use.
Insert a knife into the cayenne peppers and cut a slit along one side. Snap off the stem end. This is to eliminate the air pocket in the peppers so they will sink into the vodka. If you don’t do this they will just float on the surface.
Put the flavorings in a quart Mason jar, and add the vodka. Shake the jar and place in a cabinet or pantry for a week. Shake it every couple of days to encourage the ingredients to give up their flavor.
Strain the mixture through a paper coffee filter into a bowl with a pouring spout. Use a funnel to pour the mixture back into the vodka bottle. It will be now be a beautiful amber.
Since my intention is to give this as a gift I made a label to describe the contents. It says: VODKA INFUSED WITH ELMORE ROOTS GINGER, LIME & CAYENNE
“If it will grow in Elmore, it will grow where you are.”