Island Life: Rum Infusions
There’s not a liquor that’s more quintessentially Caribbean than rum. While we’re fine with our rum punches, ti punches and other rum-based cocktails, we decided to up the ante with homespun rum infusions over the weekend. After acquiring jeraboams (yes, plural) of rosé in December, we decided to repurpose the empties and put those stunning gigantic bottles to good use.
We have a growing bar in our home, part of which is made up of infused rums we’ve purchased in St. Martin and Saba. We’ve finished off a meal with banana rum on more than one occasion and decided to attempt our own delicious concoctions at home. I was shocked to find very few ‘recipes’ (read: good flavor profiles and pairings) for rum infusions online, so we started dreaming up our own blends. One important input for great infusions? Great fruit. We used other ingredients, too (vanilla beans from Madagascar, cinnamon sticks, cloves, etc.), but the rum we had dreamed up was full of bright, Caribbean flavors. We headed to our go-to for the best fruit on the island, a small stand in The Quarter selling fresh fruit, primarily from Dominica.
Rum Infusions: How To + Flavor Profiles
The basics of infusions can be found across the internet, so I’ll briefly outline what we did and then delve into our flavor pairings since those are the more interesting piece of this puzzle. You can infuse booze in any container really — we used old rose bottles and mason jars, but any canning containers would work, in theory. First, put in your fruits and aromatics (cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, mango, pineapple, etc.), and then fill with rum. We used bottom of the barrel, inexpensive rum we purchased at a liquor store on island (about $15 for a 1.75L bottle). Store the infusions in a cool, dry and darkish space for 3 – 5 days, shaking the containers 3 times a day. After the marinating period is over, strain the concoction and place it in its final resting place. We’ll end up straining it into a container and then putting it back in the pretty wine bottles to store.
We used our jeraboam bottles to create our two primary rum infusions, and then supplemented with five small mason jars to experiment with different flavor profiles entirely. The verdict is still out on whether these are drinkable at all but our preliminary tastes yesterday would have us believe we’re on the right track with some of our pairings.
We decided to keep the main infusions somewhat simple, with flavors that will ideally appeal to most of our house guests and friends. The first bottle was a blend of passionfruit + mango + vanilla beans. We found great vanilla beans at a local store and split them open to allow the vanilla flavors and aromas to permeate the rum. We loaded up the bottle with passionfruit, with its flesh and juices to let the flavors meld. We added in two mangos, cut into chunks. Scott tossed in a few cloves for good measure.
The other large infusion was pineapple + cinnamon, with nearly an entire pineapple cut into segments and placed in the bottle. A few cinnamon sticks and a bit of sugar helped balance out pineapple-heavy concoction.
Our mason jar experiments took us down the road less traveled with small amounts of unique blends. Scott put together things like our Mexican rum blend (chipotle peppers, cinnamon, vanilla), and a Thai blend (Thai chilis, lemongrass, fresh ginger, fruit). Either would make a great base for a unique cocktail.
One of the things we noted during the creation process is that different inputs will need to marinate for different periods of time. Coconut, for example, is extremely mild so may need to marinate for a week or more. Things like chilis and cloves have extremely concentrated flavors that can overpower the blend and can be removed early on. We took our chilis out after about 36 hours.
We have guests heading over for dinner on Friday night at which point we may debut the newest members of our bar layout and use them as our guinea pigs. That’s what friends are for, right?
Have you ever created your own infusions at home? What are your favorite pairings?
xoxo from the bar,