DRINK } Spiced Cocktail Infusion

Stop reading if you're a friend or family member because you'll ruin your holiday gift surprise. ... For the rest of you, this spiced vodka infusion is a perfect DIY gift.

I fell for this during Salt & Sundry's most recent Drink Lab class, hosted with our Union Market neighbors Cordial Fine Wine & Spirits. Barman Dan Searing, who's graciously hosting the series, provided the recipe. Make a few batches and divide into small bottles. Or create a spice kit for your friends and give it with instructions and a bottle of good vodka. The infusion is delicious in cocktails or to spike hot cider.  

Warm Spiced Cocktail Infusion
makes 1 750 ml bottle
adapted from Boyd & Blair Vodka

375 ml high-proof vodka, such as Boyd & Blair 151 from PA
1 whole nutmeg, crushed into several pieces
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 whole cloves
2 whole cardamom pods
4 black peppercorns
1 star anise
3 allspice berries
peel of 1 orange

Place the spices in a heavy sauce pan and toast over medium heat for several minutes. Put the orange peel and toasted spices into a mason jar, add the vodka, and seal tightly.

Store the jar in a cool, dark location, and shake daily for 7-10 days.

Once the spices have infused the vodka, strain contents with a mesh strainer and coffee filter into a clean bottle or jar. Mix with equal parts simple syrup in a bottle that will hold about 30 ounces or more.