Thursday, December 27, 2007

Time Friends, IoG Edition - Year Two

Our second post here at Infusions of Grandeur was admittedly filler, because we started off with a couple of two-week infusions and had no updates yet. So we posted a "fan edition" comic from Time Friends, which focuses on two time-traveling buddies who have more than a passing resemblance to your favorite Mad Scienticians.

A year later, we've decided to follow up with another edition of Time Friends: Infusions of Grandeur.

Of course, we have no need for filler today. Be sure to check out our cider vodka results if you missed it.

Spiced cider vodka is amazing

After fifteen days and five ingredients, our spiced cider vodka was ready to sample. The infusion, which involved apples, cinnamon, orange, nutmeg, and cloves, was our most complicated to date, and had the highest standard to live up to. Often, when we throw a party in the cold winter months, Wayland crafts a delicious apple cider, slowly heating it in a crock pot with the latter four ingredients. (Often, allspice is also used, but we could not find any whole allspice in time for this infusion.) We mix the cider with a healthy dose of spiced rum, and enjoy the warming, flavorful drink.

We modified the experiment slightly from the original write-up. The cinnamon stick was intended to infuse for the full run of the experiment, but when we tasted it on day ten, we decided that the cinnamon flavor was getting too strong and removed it. However, when performing final maintenance on day fourteen, we decided that the apple had overpowered the remaining cinnamon flavor, so we added a new cinnamon stick for the final day. The final infusion schedule was as follows:

Day 1: Add one cinnamon stick and one wedged apple
Day 2: ---
Day 3: ---
Day 4: ---
Day 5: Replace apple wedges
Day 6: ---
Day 7: ---
Day 8: ---
Day 9: ---
Day 10: Add two orange wedges, replace apple, remove cinnamon
Day 11: Add three nutmeg seeds
Day 12: ---
Day 13: ---
Day 14: Add a bundle of cloves and one cinnamon stick
Day 15: Complete!

Please note that only two wedges of the orange were used, as opposed to the complete apples. The orange was intended to only provide a hint of flavor, and not be a primary component. We scored the wedges to ensure some flavor would escape the wedges' skin.

This was the sight that met us on day fifteen. The vodka had attained a burnt orange color. We strained out the ingredients and tasted it, and we were not disappointed.

"This vodka has truly captured the essence of mulled cider," Wayland wrote. "It's sweet, with no hint of burn, and the flavors interplay wonderfully for a truly cider experience."

I found that the final day's maintenance made a world of difference compared to the mid-experiment taste the day before. "The addition of cloves, and particularly, the extra day of cinnamon gives this infusion a complex flavor, exactly as we were hoping. Each flavor puts in an appearance, with the possible exception of nutmeg, but none steal the show."

We were exceptionally pleased with how the vodka had turned out. Even cold, it gave a sensation of warming. It tasted almost exactly like Wayland's spiked cider, even without any rum being involved. Though this infusion required more maintenance than any we have done previously, we feel that it was well worth the effort.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Candy Cane Infused Vodka Results

Twas the night before Christmas and throughout the lab
Vodka was infusing with the potential for good and for bad

The scienticians in their lab coats stood before this next test
Three jars of vodka each with candy canes, to taste was the rest

Peppermint candy cane would be the one they tried first.
Would this be the best or would this be the worst?

I shook up the jar and poured each man a shot
"To Cronan!" we toasted and then wrote down each thought.

Brendan: The front end is very peppermint; at first, it seemed that this would be quite smooth and refreshing. Unfortunately, a fairly strong vodka burn rose from the background. This might work in a mixed drink, but I wouldn't shoot it.

Wayland: We have successfully created Scope!

Peppermint candy cane was not good, that was for sure
Cherry candy cane was the next that we had to endure.

Once again each man had a shot in his hand
Would the taste of this vodka they be able to stand?

Brendan: This had the same front end-back end interplay, though it intensified this time. The front end is too sweet and the back end burn is even harsher. This vodka is remarkably devoid of cheer.

Wayland: That was excellent and sweet and cherry-ish on the front end; however, it turned evil and burning on the back end, like a reverse Mr. Scrooge.

They said this vodka did not fill them with cheer.
Which was not what they wanted this season of the year.

The final candy cane vodka was that of chocolate mint.
With the results of the first two, their hopes were but a glint.

One shot for each was poured for these two.
And they drank it right down, as they often do.

Brendan: This one is better than the others, at least. It has a nice chocolate flavor on the front with peppermint notes, and though the burn still follows, it is not nearly as strong. It is an oddly gradual burn, however.

Wayland: Probably the best of the three, but that's not saying much. Again, it has a delightful front end, but once the flavor left, it burned wherever it touched including my lips.

It seems candy canes and vodka were not meant to be.
Failures not one or two, but it occurred with all three.

And as they watched the vodka drain out of sight
Both said, "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!"

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

WMD (Wayland's Mixed Drink)

So, December 19 is the one year anniversary of Infusions of Grandeur. To be totally honest, I'm surprised it's lasted this long. Like so many mad scienticians, we are prone to start a mad scheme and then go onto the next, abandoning the first while in progress. But here it is a year later, and while there was a lull for a while there, we have continued onward and have now reached a milestone.

There was much debate over what we should write for our one year post. At six months, we had the Big Experiment. We considered doing another derivation of that, examining and isolating other variables; however, we've got quite a few ambitious experiments going on currently, with our three-way candy cane infused vodka and the five ingredient spiced cider vodka. We didn't want to detract from these projects with yet another large product at the same time.

In our discussion, however, we realized there has been a big secret that has never made it to the site. In the first six months of the blog, I found a drink that is by far my favorite. A drink, that when I settle for the evening to relax, is my first thought on what to pour. A drink that I've made so often, my fellow scientician and our lab assistant roll their eyes when I mention I'm going to make it. A drink that I've poured all evening for friends at parties. And up until today, it didn't have a name. For our one year anniversary, I give you the aptly named:

Wayland's Mixed Drink (WMD)

1 part Mad Scientician™ Vanilla Infused Vodka
1 part Mad Scientician™ Caramel Infused Vodka
1 part Cream de Cacao
1 part Butterscotch Schnapps
2 parts Irish Cream

Pour over ice in a rocks glass, then into shaker and back into glass.

Wayland's score: 5.0 flasks out of 5
Brendan's score: 4.5 flasks out of 5
Overall score:

There was much discussion in the writing of this post on what exactly to call this drink. Forever, it has been either the "Untitled" or a "Modified Untitled." (Because it was derived from the original Untitled Cocktail #1.) Brendan was hesitant to let it be named. "It is what it is, and it has been untitled for so long now. It's the end of an era." I thought, times change, we've hit a year, it's time for this drink to have a name. At first, it was to be called Wayland's Preferred Drink, however, the abbreviation WPD was just not as nice as WMD. So Wayland's Mixed Drink or WMD it became.

And coming up soon, Snickers infused vodka....

Sunday, December 16, 2007

In the lair of Doctor Christmas

Our spiced cider vodka is coming along nicely, but in lieu of its completion, we have decided to do yet another holiday-inspired infusion experiment. Imagine if you will, a wintry land of magic, populated by an elven society. Much of the population is employed by their leader, an elderly, half-Inuit son of Robert Edwin Peary. This man is known by many names, but chances are you have heard of him as a certain Mr. Claus.

Mr. Claus single-handedly supports the elven economy through the distribution of toys and goodies each Christmas, but even he enjoys the finer things in life; he is especially fond of cookies and milk, but occasionally partakes of a beverage of the alcoholic variety. Though he has traditionally been a fan of egg nog and cider, he has learned, during the process of his yearly list-making, of two Mad Scienticians; two men who could craft for him a drink infused with the very spirit of Christmas. This is the story of our latest creation: Candy Cane Vodka.

For this experiment, we are creating three vodkae, each with a different flavor of candy cane. One will use the traditional peppermint candy cane; one will use a chocolate mint flavor; and a third will use cherry-flavored canes. Two candy canes will be dissolved in each.

Wayland struggles through the wrapping of the canes as he begins the experiment.

As with some of our previous experiments, this is a solution, not a true infusion. The candy canes will be fully dissolved in the vodka. Very soon after beginning the experiment, we could see the vodkae becoming cloudy as the candy canes began to dissolve.

This will be a quick experiment, but you will have to wait until that most magical of nights, Christmas Eve, to see the results!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Jalapeño Gojira!

Most of the images in our archives are not appearing right now. We host our images and other files on a separate site, which is currently down while we switch domain registrars. For this post, we're hosting our images on an emergency Photobucket account, but our archives are text-only for the moment. Everything should be back in working order soon.

Though many of our infused vodka experiments turn out to be one-time gigs, we use a number of them regularly, and must periodically replenish our supplies. Recently, we began a new batch of our jalapeño vodka, which we use often as a marinade.

We normally infuse our jalapeño vodka for three days. This is sufficient to give the vodka a crisp, smooth flavor, reminiscent of green bell peppers, followed up by a substantial but not overwhelming kick of heat. This time, however, though I marked the date we begun the infusion on our calendar, I forgot to add an end-date reminder. As such, the vodka was neglected in an obscure cabinet in our laboratory -- for eleven days. Though it doesn't show very well in the below photo, the vodka had attained a pale but noticeable green color, which had never appeared in previous batches.

Of course, when we finally discovered it, we weren't going to give it up as a lost cause. We Mad Scienticians are well established as capsaicin addicts, and were intrigued by the over-infused vodka. We decided to sample it that night.

Amazingly, the vodka was still quite drinkable. "This has a hell of a burn on the back end," wrote Wayland, "but it's not too bad. It's probably still milder than our habanero vodka."

"It still has the same jalapeño flavor, without tasting overdone," I wrote, "but the heat is kicked up significantly."

We soon realized that of all the infusions we have created, jalapeño might be the only one that is time-scalable. Most infusions have a peak where they have attained the strongest and most faithful flavor from its ingredient, after which it descends (some gradually, others very quickly) into ruin. Jalapeño vodka may yet have its breaking point as well, but it seems that its creator can adjust their infusion time, depending on how much heat they prefer, without adversely affecting the flavor or overall quality.

Wayland noted, however, that "I can definitely feel the burn in my stomach after all is said and done."

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The First Cocktail Challenge: Orange and Cinnamon

First of all, I wanted to take a moment, before moving on to the challenge, to mention a momentous occasion here at Infusions of Grandeur. Today's post is number 100, and I find it fitting that this is something a little different than normal for our hundredth post. This is the first post whose content was decided by our readers.

Anyway, onto the results.

Challenge Drink #1

With the results of the votes being cinnamon and orange infused vodkas, it left me with a little to think about. This was an odd combination, so I decided to start simple, to figure out just what I was dealing with. So I stated with a cinnamon and orange "martini."

1.0 oz. Cinnamon Infused Vodka
3.0 oz. Orange Infused Vodka
Shake over ice and serve in a chilled martini glass.

With this drink, the cinnamon was just too overwhelming. The flavor of the orange was barely noticable and it turned out somewhat bitter. Brendan liked it a bit more than I did, but definitely not a drink worth ending the challenge over.

Brendan's score: 2.5 flasks out of 5
Wayland's score: 2.0 flasks out of 5
Overall score:

Challenge Drink #2

Since the fruit flavor was lost in the first drink, I decided to add more in the second drink. I ended up using Apple Pucker schnapps as an addition to the original attempt, along with a bit more Orange Infused Vodka. I ended up chosing the Pucker over our own Apple Infused Vodka, because of the bitterness in the first drink and the Pucker has a bit more of a robust flavor.

0.5 oz. Cinnamon Infused Vodka
2.0 oz. Orange Infused Vodka
1.0 oz. Apple Pucker schnapps
Once again, shaken over ice and served in a chilled martini glass.

Brendan wrote a description that I just couldn't add to:

"The orange shows up better, but it is muted together with the cinnamon. Together they contend against each other from the same side, like Gore and Nader, allowing Bush's apple to take the lead. The drink is decent, but the flavor is too fragmented."

Brendan's score: 3.0 flasks out of 5
Wayland's score: 2.5 flasks out of 5
Overall score:

Challenge Drink #3

At this point in the evening, I was beginning to find myself very tired. I reached for one of my favorite caffeine fixes when inspiration struck on what to do with the final drink.

0.5 oz. Cinnamon Infused Vodka
1.5 oz. Orange Infused Vodka
6.0 oz. Red Bull
Pour the vodkae over rocks into a collins glass, top off with Red Bull and shake once, gently.

Brendan wrote that "the cinnamon pops up and almost overwhelms it at first, but then backs down and lets the orange and Red Bull join forces in the lead." (Apparently, my colleague is a fan of the split ticket concept.) "I've never been able to quite pinpoint the flavor of Red Bull, but the citrus complements it quite well," he continued.

"I think the cinnamon gives a nice contrast to the overall citrus of the drink," I wrote. "I should probably stop here. I'm not saying it's perfect, but it is a good drink."

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

And at this point, I went and passed out from exhaustion. Stay tuned for post number 101, and expect to see more cocktail challenges in the future.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A taste of the holidays

The holiday season is fast approaching, and now it's time to start the experiment we've been leading up to for a while: spiced cider vodka. We have done several multi-ingredient vodka infusions before, but never with more than two ingredients; this one, on the other hand, will include a whopping five. The goal is to make apple the strongest flavor, but to include notes of cinnamon, orange, cloves, and nutmeg. We recently created clove infused vodka and nutmeg vodka to fine-tune our processes and determine the timing, whereas we have created each of apple, orange, and cinnamon vodkae numerous times before.

We began with a gratuitous photo of all the ingredients together, but we only used two of them initially.

To begin, we are starting with apple and cinnamon. Traditionally, we have infused each of them solo for two weeks, so we used that as a basis for our timeline. Cinnamon vodka tends to be very strongly flavored, so we only used a single stick (rather than the usual three), and will evaluate over time whether it needs to be removed early (or if more should be added, for that matter).

As for the apple, we are going with the methodology we decided was optimal in the Big Experiment, replacing the apples every few days throughout the experiment's run. We began by slicing an apple into eighths. We are still using Granny Smiths, as we always have; one day, we hope to do a Big Experiment-style comparison of various apple types.

Once the apple was sliced and cored, we placed the cinnamon stick and apple wedges into a science jar, added vodka and topped it off with a spoonful of sugar to aid the infusion.

The other ingredients will be added along the way based on their individual infusion times. We are planning the following schedule for the experiment:

Day 1: Add cinnamon and apple
Day 2: ---
Day 3: ---
Day 4: ---
Day 5: Replace apple
Day 6: ---
Day 7: ---
Day 8: ---
Day 9: ---
Day 10: Add orange slices, replace apple
Day 11: Add nutmeg
Day 12: ---
Day 13: ---
Day 14: Add cloves
Day 15: Complete!

This is, of course, tentative, and could change depending on experimental conditions. We'll let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Results of the vote

Wayland was going to announce the vote tally for his first Cocktail Challenge tonight, but he has prematurely taken leave of his consciousness for the night, so I am filling in for him. The vote would determine which two infused vodkae Wayland would have to create new cocktails with; the first vote determined that one of them would be cinnamon vodka, and narrowed the second down to black tea/lemon, orange, or watermelon vodka. A runoff vote was held to complete this choice.

The final tally is as follows:

  • 6 votes for Orange vodka
  • 3 votes for Black Tea/Lemon vodka
  • 1 vote for Watermelon vodka
  • 1 vote for Pat Buchanan

So, orange infused vodka is the clear winner. Stay tuned: in the remainder of this week, we will be posting our latest experiment, as well as Wayland's Cocktail Challenge: Cinnamon and Orange Battle.