I’m dubbing 2014 the year of infusions.
Adding flavors or spice to oils, honey, and booze is an impressive but almost ridiculously easy project. I’m somewhat embarrassed to confess that it’s been a few years since I’ve ventured into DIY infusions, but that’s going to change.
It is the perfect season for sweet and aromatic spices. Pumpkin spiced everything heralds the end of fall and the start of winter. Spiced cookies, cider, and mulled wine fill the holiday season. Then, January hits and everyone starts to get sick of winter (or just get sick) and all of the sudden things start looking, well, bland. But there are still months of cold and snow ahead and I have one word for you.
I must admit, I am absolutely not a fan of chai tea. I don’t know whether it’s the sweetness or the milkiness, but I’d much rather have a cup of plain old tea. However, I have found that my distaste for chai doesn’t extend to infusions. I’ve had (and loved) Chai Infused Sweet Potato Bisque and even created a recipe for Chai Caramel Sauce. When I found myself in possession of a hefty bag of chai spices I wondered what I could create for this blog. Then, with a flash of holiday inspiration, it hit me! Chai spiced rum.
I used a pre-made blend of spices for my chai spiced rum. The blend includes cloves, black peppercorns, bay leaves, candied ginger, cardamom pods, cinnamon, and star anise. If you’d rather create your own, you can find a variety of good recipes. The suggestions I have, if making your own blend, is to make sure to go easy on the cloves, as they can overpower the other flavors if steeped for too long. Make sure to use candied or crystallized ginger, as the sugar will add a bit of sweetness to the chai spiced rum.
As with any project the quality of your ingredients will impact the final product. I used rum from a Colorado craft distillery, Downslope Distilling. In doing some basic rum research (because I was a total rum rookie) I decided on gold rum. Downslope’s Special Gold is aged in white oak barrels, and the slight woodiness was a great canvas for the spices. I was afraid that a dark rum (aged in charred oak barrels) would be just a bit too strongly flavored and would compete with the chai spices.
While I created this recipe for chai spiced rum, you could certainly use a different type of alcohol. Just know that the flavor will change depending on the type of alcohol.
Also, check back in the next few days as I will be posting two different drink recipes using this chai spiced rum. One is a refreshing, iced drink and the other is a spiced twist on a winter classic.
Chai Spiced Rum
1 750ml bottle gold rum
1 cup chai spice blend
Notes: You’ll need a funnel, wide enough for your spices to fit through. Alternately, make a funnel using heavy paper or cardstock.
This takes a week to infuse.
Directions: Remove about 3/4 cup of rum from the bottle. (I’m sure you can find some good use for a bit of rum.) Using a funnel, pour in the chai spices. You may need to remove a bit more rum, or add some back in, depending on the bottle or other container you’re using. When you’re finished there should be about an inch of space at the top of the bottle. Cap the bottle and put it in a cool dark place. After three days, gently shake the bottle and re-shelve. Wait four more days. Use a fine mesh strainer to drain the chai spiced rum. There may be a bit of ground spice grit in the bottom of your rum, it won’t hurt to leave it but if it bothers you strain again through cheesecloth to remove. Store in a sealed container. (You can rinse the spices out of the bottle and use it.)
Cheers and Happy New Year!