Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Nutmeg vodka: now with dangerous toxins!

Our most recent infused vodka experiment is nutmeg vodka. This experiment follows up on our recent clove-infused vodka, leading up soon enough to one of our most ambitious experiments yet, a five-ingredient spiced cider vodka.

Nutmeg has a long history in holiday drinks, being a traditional ingredient in egg nog and mulled cider. It is also used as a flavoring spice in cuisines around the world. What many people do not know is that nutmeg contains a mild hallucinogen known as myristicin. Consuming one to four teaspoons of ground nutmeg can cause mild euphoria and distorted vision (coupled with unpleasant side effects). Upwards of six teaspoons can lead to nausea, body pain, convulsions and even a psychiatric disorder aptly named "nutmeg poisoning." Fortunately, though nutmeg is a wonderful spice in lower quantities, consuming this much nutmeg straight up is generally unpleasant enough to prevent most people from trying to get a buzz from it.

We created our nutmeg-infused vodka using three nutmeg seeds. One nutmeg seed yields approximately three teaspoons of ground nutmeg. Let me check my math here... that's a total of nine teaspoons. You'll shoot your eye out, kid!

Don't worry, we're fairly certain that infusing vodka with whole nutmeg (as opposed to ground) is not going to impart most of its myristicin into the vodka. In addition, whatever amount of the chemical actually does find its way out will be distributed throughout a fifth of vodka, not a single drink, so as long as no one drinks this stuff from a beer bong, we should be pretty safe.

To begin the experiment, I cracked each seed approximately in half using very technical instruments.

We poured vodka over the cracked seeds and infused it for a little over a week.

The time came to taste the vodka... and then it whooshed by like one of Douglas Adams' deadlines. It seems that this infusion should run for somewhat less than a week.

"I'm torn on this one," Wayland wrote. "It's definitely nutmeg, but I think it's a bit on the strong side. I'd probably recommend a shorter infusion time when we put it in the cider. It's a bit bitter, but might work if it is mixed with something."

My thoughts ran along nearly identical lines. "Whoa, that was definitely some nutmeg. The flavor is spot on, but way too strong. It needs to be infused for a shorter length of time. Other than that, there is a mild vodka flavor but not really a burn."

Despite the extra time, we consider this vodka a success. The flavor is not so strong as to ruin the vodka, but mixed drinks will have to be proportioned carefully to avoid overpowering other ingredients. In the future, though, we will infuse it for a shorter duration.


Dude said...

I'm attempting to make a Nutmeg infusion, but I'm having trouble finding whole nutmeg seeds. Where did you get yours?

Brendan said...

A friend of ours found it at a Middle Eastern grocery/deli. You might be able to find it at a whole foods market or something like that also.

Adam said...

I can get whole nutmeg at my local coffee shop as well. If you don't have a Middle Eastern grocer nearby, it may be a more viable option for you.

lynxo said...

not sure if you are still checking this blog, but i'm doing nutmeg vodka for a party this weekend. it is indeed strong, but do you have recommendations for cocktail recipes?

Dude said...

I found it good for just simply spiking the eggnog.

Anonymous said...

Awesome work guys! I just finished a project with run and nutmeg. I let it sit for about 2 weeks in a fifth of 151 and seeing as 151 is already bitter and pretty angsty with the burn it didn't seem to bother many people more than usual. Although the nutmegs absorb a lot of the alcohol while it replaces the alcohol with the alkaloids, it still packs a punch and the low levels of myristicin keep sippin' safe :D

Anonymous said...
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Dipso said...

Tried infusing Scotch with nutmeg for quite some time - like months because I firgot about it! Bitter and undrinkable so added plenty of sugar which tamed it down some. Now great for adding a 'touch of spice' to other concoctions.


Emily S. said...

currently infusing sake with nutmeg! I'll let you know my findings :)