Produce on its last legs can find new life in your liquor cabinet. It’s an idea Scott Baker employs from behind the bar at Bentonville, Arkansas’ Tusk & Trotter: Nearly every cocktail on the menu is anchored by an infused liquor of Baker’s creation—from mango-habanero tequila to bacon and black pepper vodka. We asked him to share some of his best tips and tricks for infusion newbies. Overripe produce will work best; it’s a great way to use up what’s just past its prime. For which bottle of booze to grab, Baker advocates for a middle-of-the-road approach (a bottom-shelf spirit can only get so much help, and there’s no sense in messing with the good stuff). After that, the alcohol does all the work for you. But don’t let your concoction sit more than a few days, as the booze will break down the proteins and enzymes in whatever’s being infused. “It’ll still taste the same, just less visually appealing,” Baker explains, so strain promptly for a prettier end product.
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