Take Leftover Mulled Wine Spices And Make A Festive Liquor Infusion

Nothing goes with a chilly, gray evening like a cup of warmed mulled wine. Mulled wine is made by lightly heating and steeping sweet spices like cinnamon, star anise, and cloves in red wine. But you rarely need to use all of these spices to make a perfect batch, and that doesn't mean you should just keep them in the cupboard until you make your red wine infusion. No, you can make a myriad of boozy spiced concoctions with these same spices that will keep you delightfully toasty through cold nights. 

This concept isn't at all new. Look at Swedish aquavit or even just classic gin. These are both grain alcohol spirits that have been infused with spices, citrus, or herbs to pull out new flavors in the liquor. Modern distilleries even produce their fair share of apple-spiced bourbons and winter holiday-flavored brandies and vodkas. So, why not try it yourself? Take those leftover spices and infuse them in your spirit of choice to make some truly phenomenal spiced cocktail creations. 

Customize your infusion blend

First, gather your dried spices. You can use a premixed mulled wine spice blend, but some of the most popular ingredients in them are spices you probably already have: cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and star anise. You'll want to use whole, dried spices to help with the straining process. Also, add fruits to your liquor infusion such as apples, oranges, or cranberries. Then, pick a base spirit — vodka typically has a less distinctive flavor on its own, so it's a good choice if you don't want anything competing with the other flavors. Bourbon has rich caramelly notes that will complement the warm, sweet spices. Brandy and scotch whisky could also work but have more distinct flavor notes. 

After you have your ingredients, grab a wide-mouth, air-tight container. You can't beat a standard Mason jar because it seals easily, and larger items can fit in such as apple slices. Add spices and fruits, then splash in your spirit of choice — add enough that it covers the spices and reaches the top of the jar. Now secure the lid, and give the infusion a good shake. Let the spices marinate in the spirit for 3 to 5 days in a dark cool place, shaking once a day or so to help with the infusion process. When it's complete, strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove all of the solids, and you now have your own homemade spiced liquor infusion