Sous Vide Your Cocktails For More Consistent Flavor Infusions

If you're a sous vide aficionado or DIY foodie, you've probably tasted the rewards of a perfectly tender piece of fish, or head of black garlic, cooked low and slow using this find dining technique. But did you know that your favorite cocktail could also benefit from a sous vide treatment?

Sous vide, which translates roughly to "in a vacuum" in French, is a method of vacuum-sealing food in a plastic bag and cooking it in a temperature-controlled vat of water for hours, or even weeks. It is renowned for its consistency and ability to produce extremely delicate and flavorful results, using a dedicated sous vide water oven or a simple stick immersion cooker. But while this technique is usually used to cook, it can also be used to infuse. It's considered the perfect method for achieving consistent flavor infusions that produce the perfect drink every single time.

Why sous vide a cocktail?

Some bars have already taken to this technique with gusto. New York City's Top of the Strand in Midtown has a dedicated sous vide cocktail list that includes a version of an Old Fashioned infused with orange and cherry, a Mezcal cocktail infused with chipotle, and a bourbon cocktail infused with mint and ginger.

As the bar told Food Republic, its sous vide cocktails are made by batching spirits and their matching ingredients into jars, measured by weight, before allowing them to infuse in a warm bath at 135 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 90 minutes. The solid ingredients are then strained out, and the resulting infused spirit is used as the cocktail base. "​​The process adds robust flavors while masking any impurities, and the finish is very smooth," the bar's PR team explained. Because the temperature of the sous vide bath doesn't exceed 173 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature at which alcohol cooks off, the spirit maintains its booziness, while taking on new flavors.

DIY your sous vide cocktail

But you don't have to go to Manhattan to enjoy a sous vide cocktail. It's easy enough to do at home, provided you have an immersion sous vide circulator on hand. Even if you don't, you can make a DIY sous vide by adding your ingredients to a sealed plastic bag and cooking it in a slow cooker on low (just be sure to pin the top of your bag to the lid so it doesn't leak).

A mason jar filled with your ingredients can also be sous vided in a water bath in your oven, but this can be riskier depending on how low your oven temperature goes. If your lowest setting is 250 degrees Fahrenheit, for example, that might be too high. Your ingredients should be at room temperature before they go into the sous vide bath, and you should cook them in a sealed, heat-proof container for about two hours, under 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Save and dry your infusion ingredients to use as a garnish. In all, despite the fussiness, this method will take far less time than a standard infusion, which can take three to five days, depending on the ingredients.