When Kevin Denton, the Nationalist Mixologist for Pernod Ricard (and previously of Wylie Dufrense‘s wd~50), came to Food52, he brought with him a bevy of cocktail ingredients and tools—and among them, unexpectedly, was the French press.
Standing over fifty lowball glasses, he mixed a bubbling pot of cloves and fortified wine, prepared rim garnishes, and readied an army of French presses. At the bottom of each French press sat not coffee grounds, but fresh strawberries, lemon peels, and rose hips. While pouring a mixture of tea, cognac, and hot water over his potpourri, he explained that the French press is an ideal tool for steeping and extracting flavors to infuse into alcohol.
“You’re essentially creating a rapid infusion of ingredients,” he said, “so it doesn’t only give you wonderful aromas, but also extracts the bitters.”
While the most obvious benefit of using a French press to extract flavors may be that it’s much faster than a traditional infusion—one where ingredients are added to alcohol at room temperature and then strained out after several hours or days—Kevin said that there are other greater, benefits to a rapid infusion:
Rapid infusion uses, as Kevin put it, the “double whammy” of heat and alcohol, both great solvents for infusing things—so this technique works best with warm drinks. Here's how to do it:
Kevin gets philosophical when he talks about rapid infusions: “I like to think about creating them symphonically. The bass notes come from your spirit; the honey and sweet notes, like berries and stone fruits, are the middle notes like the trumpets; and your high notes—the piccolos and flutes—those are your florals.” Here are several drinks to inspire your combinations (and compose your own symphony):
Have you ever used a French press to make a cocktail? What drinks will you be trying this with? Tell us in the comments below!