"I blame the hooch," said my friend, Dave, who slept until 4:00 pm the day after my wedding. The hooch he was talking about was a special concoction I learned from my sister: infusing vodka with strawberries and rhubarb. It goes down fast and smooth (either shaken with ice or with a splash of club soda over ice), making it the perfect signature cocktail for our wedding. It's also seasonal.
Making hooch is not a task for the instant gratification crowd (i.e., me). It takes a minimum of two weeks, feeding the vodka oodles of strawberries and rhubarb, but it's worth it: you end up with a sweet, pink drink that tastes more like strawberry juice than strawberry vodka. That's an endorsement as much as a warning. Remember that this sweet nectar is actually vodka, so don't drink it all at once, or else you'll end up like my friend Dave: sleeping the day away.
Hooch* (Vodka Infused with Strawberries and Rhubarb)
It goes without saying, you should read the entire recipe before starting this infusion
Ingredients and Tools To Start Your Infusion:
1 large bottle (1.75 liter) of vodka (I like Ketel One)
1 pint of strawberries (Every few days. Ultimately, you will use about 5-6 pints)
4-6 large stalks of rhubarb (Every few days. Ultimately, you will use about 24 stalks)
1 large air tight jug
1 dish towel
a few rubber bands
1. Clean/hull strawberries and cut them in half. Cut the rhubarb into 1" cube size pieces.
2. Fill your air tight jug with the vodka and combine fruit, put the lid on.
3. Wrap a dish towel around your jug and secure with a rubber band, place in the refrigerator. (i.e. a cool, dark place).
4. Shake once a day for 2 weeks, changing fruit when needed (every few days).
Tip: Most likely after your first few days of infusing, your strawberries and rhubarb will lose their color and turn pale. This will definitely happen with your first batch of fruit. Keep an eye on them and when they look as if they've lost all of their good juices, toss them and repeat. I recommend changing fleshy fruits like strawberries every 3 days or so and replacing them with a new pint. The rhubarb can become bitter if it is left in too long. I recommend swapping the rhubarb out after 3 days or so and leaving it out for 3 days before adding it again. Also, I'm not sure how much difference in taste the rhubarb makes because I haven't tried the recipe without. My guess is that it would taste just as delicious without the rhubarb.
What you need to finish your infusion:
• fine mesh sieve
• mason jars or other pretty jugs to bottle up finished product
1. Strain all of the fruit from your infusion.
2. Create a simple syrup by bringing 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water to a boil.
3. Pour into your finished vodka, give it a good shake.
4. Funnel your finished vodka into your final jars or jugs.
5. Store in the freezer.
6. The longer you let it "rest" before serving, the smoother it will become.
Tip: There are many variables to the experiment, so keep an eye on your vodka throughout the two weeks. smell it, taste it, do what your instincts tell you. This is what makes it your hooch!
*Thanks to my sister Noel for developing and testing the recipe and to my friend Jen for inspiration on the name of the drink.