Soaking Toothpicks in Bourbon for an Elevated Dining Experience

Bourbon recipes extend beyond cocktails, and toothpicks serve more purposes than just skewering different types of martini olives. Soaking porous wooden toothpicks in bourbon imbues them with a robust, mature flavor. Licker Pickers offers all-white birch toothpicks soaked in liquor; Daneson’s liquor-infused toothpicks are made from A-grade, American-milled northern white birch wood, and steeped in six-year-old cask-strength Kentucky straight bourbon. Although it sounds like a luxury, you can create your own version at home using a cigarette lighter, a bottle of mid-range bourbon, a glass jar with a lid, and some regular round wooden toothpicks from the dollar store.

To start, pour about one inch of bourbon into the bottom of your glass jar, and add the toothpicks. There are different methods for this; some suggest inserting the toothpicks so only one end is submerged in the bourbon. To differentiate the flavored end from the other, lightly burn the non-soaked end with the lighter, indicating that you shouldn’t put the charred end in your mouth.

Alternatively, you can place the toothpicks flat in the bourbon, where they’ll float due to the wood’s buoyancy. This way, the bourbon permeates the entire toothpick, though the submerged part will absorb more flavor. If you prefer even saturation, you can weigh them down with a sterilized glass paperweight before sealing the jar.

A fittingly woody spirit for a woody tool

Wooden toothpicks in a shot glass

Let those bad boys steep for at least 24 hours, though 48 hours is optimal. The longer your toothpicks steep, the more intense their flavor will be. After steeping, transfer them to a paper towel to reduce stickiness, and wait until they are completely dry to the touch before storing. This drying process can also take up to 48 hours.

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Initially, these liquor-infused toothpicks may taste like regular wood, but give them a few minutes to warm up in your mouth, and the natural bourbon flavors will begin to emerge. Depending on the liquor brand, the toothpicks can release delicate tasting notes commonly found in bourbon, such as vanilla, smoky oak, and apple, adding a sophisticated touch to the end of a meal. Present them at your dinner party in a shot glass, or store them in a unique container for portable enjoyment. An empty Altoids tin, a Tic-Tac box, a vintage lipstick case, or an antique cigarette compact can all serve as stylish toothpick holders.

For home bartenders and bourbon enthusiasts looking to infuse toothpicks with a rich, smoky flavor, there’s no need to overspend. However, choose a bourbon of sufficient quality to impart distinct flavors to the toothpicks, such as Bulleit Bourbon ($32.99 via Drizly) or Maker’s Mark 46 ($39.99). To further customize the infusion, consider adding whole vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, or citrus peels to the bourbon as the toothpicks steep.

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