Soaking tasty things in strong liquor is easy and effective.
A vegan heavy metal bar set above Broadway’s skuzzy street parade (and a sex shop), the Highline feels like your alt cousin’s college clubhouse, only friendlier. But take a look at their infusion cocktails. Spiked with habañero tequila, pineapple rum and cucumber mint gin, these guys know what they’re doing.
Brunch gets extra kicky with Lola’s Bloody Mary, made with jalapeño-infused vodka and jammed full of golden pepperoncini and big Greek olives. This place takes its Bloody Mary seriously—aside from mimosas, it’s the only adult beverage on the menu, and infused bottles are displayed proudly in the entryway bar. Even the sea salt rim has something unidentifiably special going on. Fun fact: Fresh beignets act as a liquor sponge in the belly.
Seattle’s most elegant infusions are set against a quintessential Lake Union view at Cicchetti. The infused cocktails at Serafina’s Mediterranean-themed sister bistro are light and delicate, infused after-dinner liqueurs are robust and satisfying. Bartender MacGregor Boswell is generous with his wisdom and hosts occasional classes in the art of infusion. By the time you read this, he’ll have launched Cicchetti’s autumn cocktail menu.
South Lake Union
The dark, dank months call for a Russian-style hot soak at Banya 5, followed by an infused cocktail next door at Venik. Every season, the bar invents a new series of steeped concoctions in sweet, savory and spicy varieties—think honey, chilies, fennel and beets. As committed to craft cocktails as it is to infusions, Venik’s bar staff also makes its own bitters and liqueurs, which add to the complexity of their unusual drinks.
The recipe for a winning infusion: Soak a handful of tasty stuff in a bottle of clear liquor for up to two weeks. Open, pour and enjoy. At a friend’s annual “Vodka & Latke” holiday party, we’ve tried infusions made with pine needles, Thai chilies, lavender, horseradish, Earl Grey tea, mint, vanilla bean and more. Some are more successful than others; mix and match with sodas and juices to create your own cocktails. And remember, if it’s hard to drink, just shoot it.
Illustration by Tom Dougherty.