Sweet blueberries hit their prime as summer nears its end, and what better way to savor their tart flavor then in a cordial you can enjoy all through the fall? Making infused liquors is quite easy, and a great way to use up over-ripe fruit and scraps. Just soak berries, or any leftover fruit, in a quick simple syrup, then mix into vodka and let sit for a few weeks. And packed full of citrus and fresh mint, the smash has quickly become a favorite cocktail of mine. Chicago’s French-inspired Maude’s Liquor Bar creates this tipple with a variety of liquors, including the delightful smokey violet combination, but using a house-made blueberry vodka is just as sweet. —La Vita Cucinare
lemon, zest removed using peeler or paring knife
1. Place the water and sugar in a small, heavy-duty pot and bring to boil. Add the blueberries and lemon zest and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour into a large jar and allow to cool completely.
2. Pour the vodka over the blueberry syrup once it has cooled. Place in the refrigerator and let sit for three weeks. Strain through cheesecloth and a fine mesh strainer and store in a sealable container, in the freezer.
1. Muddle the mint and zest in a cocktail shaker. Add the vodka and shake vigorously over ice.
2. Strain over ice into a rocks glass. Top off with soda water and garnish with mint and blueberries.