The Tipsy Diaries – Frank Bruni investigates infused spirits

If you aren’t up on all the mischief that transpires behind the bar these days, the scene I’m about to describe — and the experiment to which it belonged — will sound pointless at best and repulsive at worst, and it will peg me as someone with too much time on his hands. Too much candy as well.

I’m in my kitchen. Spread before me on the counter are seven large glass jars filled with vodka. In one I have already submerged chunks of ginger. Into another I have deposited meaty pucks of sopressata. And into this third jar, which now absorbs my close attention and runaway invention, I am dropping those hot, cinnamon-flavored bombs known as Atomic Fireballs.

As each sinks to the bottom, it releases a plume of what looks like red smoke. The depths of the vodka turn faintly pink; the color slowly rises. I wonder: masterpiece or mess? It will be a while until the verdict, because I am letting the fireballs — along with the ginger, the sopressata, chunks of carrot, peeled cloves of garlic, picholine olives and, in the final jar, butterscotch candies — infuse into once crystalline pools of Ketel One. But I know this much already: I’m a man of my cocktail times. It’s an infuse-a-palooza out there, and in my own clumsy, deliberately comical way, I’ve just joined the fun.

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