Monday, January 29, 2007

Yes, we really went there: Pop Rocks Vodka

This week's experiment is a little more experimental than most. A few weeks ago, the Mad Scienticians were shopping for groceries and happened upon a display of Pop Rocks. Wayland suggested that we use this in an infusion at some point. I assumed he was joking at first, and laughed it off, but the thought lingered.

A couple weeks later, when The Ferrett reviewed our site, he mentioned that he was looking forward to some more unusual infusions than we've been doing; Pop Rocks was one of his off-the-cuff ideas. The serendipity was too much for us to ignore, and we decided to attempt this experiment as soon as possible.

"Let the puppies fall where they may!"
   - Motto of the Spruse Goose

We started off with two packets of strawberry-flavored Pop Rocks. Each packet is one-third of an ounce.

As we poured the filtered vodka over the Pop Rocks, it began to crackle and pop, but no fizz. We were hoping for some bubbling action, but the effects were audio-only.

Here, Wayland channels the Face of Boe:

This was our fastest infusion ever, clocking in at a cool twelve minutes. (Of course we are aware that this is not an actual infusion, per se, but rather a solution. We are trained scienticians, after all.)

Once the Pop Rocks were fully dissolved, Wayland tried the first shot.

The flavor was very light, and the vodka still kicked like the unflavored baseline.

Brendan tried the next shot:

We agreed that the vodka did not have enough flavor, and decided to add a third packet of Pop Rocks.

Oddly enough, this single packet took longer to dissolve than the first two combined, about sixteen minutes. We tasted another round.

The flavor of Pop Rocks was much more pronounced. Despite the distinct overtones of artificial sweetening, I decided it wasn't bad. The flavor still was not sufficient to cover the kick, however.

As Wayland sampled the second iteration, he was struck with a feeling of déjà vu. He realized that, to him, it tasted much like Cisco, a cheap fortified wine which was his standby in his college days. (Personally, I can see where he's coming from, but I wouldn't make the comparison; Cisco is notoriously nasty stuff.)

Once tested and bottled, we had to come up with a drink to use it in. When we were planning this experiment, we were somewhat confounded about what we would do at this point. Eventually, though, I realized that if we were going to go this route, we had to go all the way.

The Mikey-Killer

Over ice, pour:
2 oz. Mad Scientician™ Pop Rocks vodka
6 oz. Coca-Cola

Of course we are all familiar with the tragic story of Little Mikey, who gained celebrity through his promotions of Life cereal, only to burn out like so many celebrities before him and die of an overdose of Pop Rocks and Coke. The relevant chemical equation is as follows:

Great, now I've got a Cake song stuck in my head.

Of course, the Pop Rocks released their CO2 when dissolved in the vodka, so we should be safe. Whew!

The drink was surprisingly good, giving the cola just a hint of strawberry flavor.

Brendan's score: 3.5 flasks out of 5
Wayland's score: 3.5 flasks out of 5
Overall score:

This wasn't enough, however. Since the Pop Rocks were strawberry flavored, and we just completed an infusion with real strawberries last week, we decided to try the same drink with strawberry vodka, for control purposes.

Mikey's Reprieve

Over ice, pour:
2 oz. Mad Scientician™ strawberry vodka
6 oz. Coca-Cola

Not surprisingly, this drink tasted similar to the Mikey-Killer, but with a bolder and more genuine strawberry taste. Yum!

Brendan's score: 4 flasks out of 5
Wayland's score: 4 flasks out of 5
Overall score:

Friday, January 26, 2007

Strawberry vodka conclusions

We sampled the strawberry vodka today, and declared it a success after a four-day infusion. As you can see, most of the strawberries' color has transferred to the vodka, which turned red, while the strawberries themselves are practically white.

I tried the vodka first. It took a beat or two to analyze and come up with an opinion. The strawberry taste is pronounced and pleasant, though the vodka kick is still present in nearly full strength. Overall, I enjoyed it. The longer we maintain this blog, it seems, the more I get used to straight vodka shots.

Wayland didn't dislike the strawberry vodka, but was not enthusiastic either.

I strained the vodka through cheesecloth to bottle it. I tried eating one of the strawberry slices; not only have they lost most of their color, they've lost most of their flavor, too. It was like eating a slice of vodka.

Once the experiment was bottled, Wayland worked some of his mixology magic and came up with a drink using it.

Strawberry Creamsaver

With ice, shake:
2 oz. Mad Scientician™ strawberry vodka
1 oz. Mad Scientician™ caramel vodka
1 oz. Irish cream
Splash of grenadine

We finished off the first bottle of caramel vodka earlier this week, and started a second batch last night. We've been shaking it periodically throughout today, and while the caramel cubes are not entirely dissolved, it was close enough to use for this drink.

We didn't think of the grenadine at first, and since the caramel vodka and Irish cream are both thickly colored, the red of the strawberry did not show at all. As it turns out, the flavor didn't show up much either.

We think the Irish cream is primarily at fault for overpowering the strawberry. Unfortunately, we couldn't think of anything else to cut the vodka with. We did give the drinks some color and appropriate flavor by tossing it back into the shaker with some grenadine.

That's one of the strawberry slices floating in the drink. Please, for the love of Delilah, don't eat the strawberry slice.

The grenadine improved the drink considerably, though grenadine has more of a cherry-like taste. Even after the modification, though, it's not one of our favorites. It grew on us as we finished our drinks, but it's definitely an acquired taste.

Brendan's score: 3 flasks out of 5
Wayland's score: 3 flasks out of 5
Overall score:

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

New Cocktails

We have killed our first bottle of infused vodka! The Mad Scientician™ Caramel vodka is the first experiment to be fully consumed. We'll be making another batch of it this weekend, along with the next brand-new experiment. The coffee vodka will probably be the next to go; we've already created another pre-emptive batch of that.

We have two new cocktails involving the caramel vodka, both of which we found delicious.

Caramello Martini

With ice, shake:
2 oz. Mad Scientician™ caramel vodka
2 oz. Crème de Cacao

This drink tastes just like a Cadbury Caramello. Delicious.

Brendan's score: 4 flasks out of 5
Wayland's score: 4 flasks out of 5
Overall score:

Untitled Cocktail #1

This one we're having some difficulty coming up with a name for. We're open to suggestions.

With ice, shake:
1 oz. Mad Scientician™ caramel vodka
1 oz. Mad Scientician™ vanilla vodka
1 oz. Crème de Cacao
1 oz. Irish cream

We weren't sure if this one could beat the Caramello, but it did, hands down. The flavor is similar, but has much more depth, primarily due to the vanilla.

Brendan's score: 4.5 flasks out of 5
Wayland's score: 4.5 flasks out of 5
Overall score:

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Next up: strawberry vodka

Before delving into this week's experiment, we'd like to give a warm welcome to all new readers visiting us from The Ferrett's review! We've added a few new links to our sidebar on the right, which will provide some more information on who we are, what we've done, and how we do it. We'll keep them updated with new experiments and cocktail recipes we develop them.

This week, we are creating a strawberry vodka. This experiment involves about 12 thinly sliced strawberries (sans the leafy crowns). We're not sure how long it will take to infuse, as our research has provided a variety of opinions. We will figure it out as we go along, tasting it periodically until it is ready.

Wayland slices strawberries for the infusion:

We weren't sure how much of these slices would fit in the jar with the vodka, so we put in half, added the vodka, and then added as many more strawberries as would fit. As it turned out, everything we sliced fit in.

We'll keep you posted on this infusion as it progresses.

A couple weeks ago, we mentioned that the Vodka God was experimenting with his own infusions; garlic and bacon, to be specific. After a bit of prodding on our part, he has posted the unfortunate results of the bacon vodka experiment; you can read his review here.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Orange experiment is a success

Our research indicated that orange vodka should infuse for 3-4 days; we left it for five days, as we had a fairly busy weekend. We were mildly concerned that the final product would be a bit too strongly flavored, but our concerns proved unfounded.

The experiment attained a yellow color as it infused:

The Mad Scienticians removed the orange slices and strained the vodka through a coffee filter to remove the pulp. This took a very long time, for some reason. We've used this method with several other experiments without any issues, but with this one, the filter allowed less and less vodka through as it became saturated.

We changed filters several times throughout the process, and wound up pinching the last one closed like a tea bag and squeezing it out.

Yeah, we know what the vodka looks like. Shut up.

We keep saying that we're going to stop testing our infusions in shot form, but yet, we keep doing it. We can't seem to resist any opportunity to post our mugs contorted into embarrassing post-shot expressions.

Wayland was not thrilled with the orange vodka as a shot, though he later decided it was due to a general feeling of malaise, rather than a reaction to the vodka.

I thought it tasted pretty good, even as a shot. It does have a degree of pithy bitterness, as some of our readers suggested may happen, but it is not overwhelming. Perhaps next time we'll invest in an orange zester.

For the cocktail test, we decided to incorporate the infusion into a modified kamikaze.

Orange Kamikaze

Over ice, pour:
2 oz. Mad Scientician™ orange vodka
2 oz. Triple Sec
Splash of lime juice

The orange vodka nicely complimented the citrus flavors of the Triple Sec and lime juice.

We found the orange vodka to be a great success. The orange kamikaze is possibly one of our best infusion drinks yet.

Brendan's score: 4.5 flasks out of 5
Wayland's score: 3.5 flasks out of 5
Overall score:

We also repeated the coffee vodka infusion this weekend, as we are nearly out of the first batch. Interesting that the experiment that got the most negative initial reaction has become our most popular.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

New domain name! (And apology to LJ subscribers)

Infusions of Grandeur has a new, sexy address on the web! You can now visit us at Our Blogspot address still works fine, and will automatically redirect to the new one.

To those following us on our LiveJournal feed, we apologize for spamming your friends list with our entire archive. When we switched to the new domain name, LJ confused all of our old entries for new ones, and reposted them. Oops! It's a one-time bug, and will not happen again.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Orange vodka, and a welcome to new readers

The Mad Scienticians have returned from Arisia -- which was an absolute blast -- and are heading back to the lab to begin a new experiment. First, however, we'd like to welcome any new readers who have stopped by since meeting us at Arisia. Come on into the laboratory, pull up a science barstool (patent pending) and have a drink! For more information about our process, please visit our initial post.

This week, we are creating an orange vodka infusion, which we hope will pair up nicely with last week's vanilla experiment. This infusion should be complete in three to four days.

First, we washed an orange and cut it into thin slices.

Surprise -- we finally found the airtight canning jars we've been looking for (thanks for the tip, Cocoajava). We loaded the slices into the jar and poured in the filtered vodka.

This looks like a heck of a lot of orange in these jars, which are smaller than the jars we've been using previously. The jar is full nearly to the brim. Hopefully the lack of excess air will further aid the infusion, though I fear that some future experiments may not fit in the jars.

We decided to keep this experiment in the lab fridge, rather than the usual cabinet. The vodka should be ready just in time for the weekend.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Testing the vanilla vodka

It's been four days since we began our vanilla infusion experiment, which means it's time to bottle and sample it! The vodka is light yellow in color, and smells pleasantly of vanilla.

Despite our decision to test our vodkas primarily in cocktails, we subjected this infusion to a shot as well as a mixed drink. Having grown wiser since our previous tests, however, we shook the vodka with ice to chill it before shooting it.

We sampled the vodka and found it to be quite smooth, relative to most of our previous experiments. The vodka flavor is pronounced but not overwhelming. We felt that it bode well for cocktails, but would not shoot it in general practice.

Next, we tested the vanilla vodka in a tried-and-true mixed drink: the Creamsicle.

The Creamsicle

In a rocks glass, mix:
2 oz. Mad Scientician™ vanilla vodka
6 oz. orange soda

Neither of us have had this drink in years, but as we expected, the drink held up to our fond memories. We consider this a success.

Brendan's score: 3.5 flasks out of 5
Wayland's score: 4 flasks out of 5
Overall score:

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Cocktail Test

As you may remember, our recent sampling produced less than optimal results, particularly of the apple- and coffee-infused vodkas. However, we feel that the tests were tainted by several factors. Namely, the fact that we were already somewhat intoxicated when the sampling took place (during our New Year's Eve party), and that we sampled the vodkas as straight shots, which in retrospect is not the most realistic use of our flavored vodkas (at least, among us and our friends).

So, we decided to subject our creations to another round of tests, this time incorporating them into cocktails as we likely would in general practice. This will be our standard testing method from this point forward. In this post you will find our first three tests (with recipes), performed over several nights during this week.

NOTE: We are aware that the following drinks are not, strictly speaking, martinis, but we use the naming convention because we're not very good with titles. Feel free to suggest alternative names if you wish.

Cocktail #1: Cinnamon-Apple Martini

This is a test of the cinnamon vodka only. We decided not to use the apple vodka in this drink for control purposes; that vodka will be tested in another cocktail.

The drink consists of:
1 oz. Mad Scientician™ cinnamon vodka
1 oz. sour apple schnapps
2 oz. regular vodka

Wayland mixes and serves the drink.

This drink was pretty good, but we think the recipe needs tweaking, as the cinnamon was not quite as distinctive as we hoped. Next time, we'll use a higher proportion of cinnamon vodka.

Brendan's score: 3 flasks out of 5
Wayland's score: 3 flasks out of 5
Overall score:

Cocktail #2: Saturday Morning Coffee

Here we are testing the coffee vodka. I was weary at the onset of this test, since the initial test of the coffee vodka sent my stomach over the edge at the party. But I knew it was time to bite the bullet and give the infusion a second chance.

This drink contains:
2 oz. Mad Scientician™ coffee vodka
2 oz. Irish cream liqueur

We were pleasantly surprised. The drink tastes very much like a mug of coffee spiked with Irish cream, a Saturday morning favorite of the Mad Scienticians. Wayland declared this his new favorite cocktail.

Brendan's score: 4 flasks out of 5
Wayland's score: 5 flasks out of 5
Overall score:

Cocktail #3: Apple Pie Martini

This was our most ambitious test to date. Based on a flavor combination suggested by our friend Jason, we set out to assemble a drink made entirely of our infused vodkas.

The drink contains:
2¼ oz. Mad Scientician™ apple vodka
1 oz. Mad Scientician™ caramel vodka
¾ oz. Mad Scientician™ cinnamon vodka

Brendan sips.... carefully.

Wayland nailed the taste! The cocktail tastes just like Mama's apple pie. Unfortunately, being an 80-proof cocktail, it bites back pretty hard. We nursed these drinks for a long time, taking small sips. In the future, we will try to find a way to cut the drink without losing the flavor.

Additionally, the apple vodka tastes a bit... aged. It's not quite offensive, but we believe the infusion could definitely be better. We have finally obtained some airtight jars, so hopefully that will improve the next batch. We will probably also try infusing it in the refrigerator next time.

Brendan's score: 3 flasks out of 5
Wayland's score: 2.5 flasks out of 5
Overall score:

Now, which of these damn bottlecaps is which?

Lastly, a heads-up: the Mad Scienticians will be out of town this weekend to attend Arisia, so our next experiment will not commence until Tuesday. In the meantime, check out The Vodka God's blog; he's gained some inspiration from our progress and begun two experiments of his own -- garlic and bacon vodka! Check out the posts so far: [one, two, three, four, five]