Alright. Well, now that I’ve gotten that little rant out of my system, lets get back to the good stuff. I’ve got one more post about homemade hooch before I dig into some more conventional stuff. I’m taking a week off from booze, to cleanse the palate so to speak. In the meantime though, I’ve got another infusion for you. The last one was very clean and fresh, and this one is a great deal more earthy. I don’t think I’m stepping out on much of a limb when I say that it’s a bit of an acquired taste.

causabon and I went on a big yerba mate kick a while back. Actually, he went in for it a lot more than I did. It’s nice stuff, and you can’t complain about the price, but I have stuck largely with tea and coffee. Because it was so much on our minds though, we made the, seemingly, logical leap to infusing it in vodka.

Yerba Mate Infusion

Zest of half a lemon
Four tablespoons of mate
One liter of vodka

Put all the ingredients in a bottle and let sit for two to three weeks, then strain.

Ok, so I said this was an acquired taste, but it’s one I think is worth acquiring. Mate has an amazingly green and smoky flavor. It is a little like a smoked green tea, but it feels far more robust and hearty. The infusion is big and flavorful, with a long dry finish, but what is nice about it is that you can basically taste the gaps that other flavors could step into in a mixed drink. It also ages very interestingly. This is of course some of the flavors fading away, but others seem to pick up as that happens. The whole thing mellows out and gets smokier, without loosing that green taste.

So, something to mix with it? Let’s keep it simple to start.

Old Fashioned Gaucho Cocktail

2 oz. Mate Infusion
Dash of water
1 sugar cube
2-3 Heavy dashes of Angostura
1 wide strip of grapefruit peel

Muddle the sugar, water, and Angostura in the glass, then add the strip of grapefruit and press lightly with the muddling stick to express the oils in the skin. Fill glass with ice and pour in the infusion. Stir.

And there you have it. Old Fashions tend to get an orange wedge and a cherry. If you want, you can go with a grapefruit wedge, but that’s going to be a bit large. You might want to just stick with the cherry on this one.