Cinnamon-spiced bourbon Old Fashioned cocktail

Elevate Your Bourbon with a Cinnamon Stick Infusion

Infusions are a quick way to impart bold dimensional flavor into “blah” spirits. Old reliable Beefeater gin, for instance, is hugely elevated when infused with a pint of fresh blackberries (not to mention the lovely lavender hue). To rescue cheap bourbon, look no further than a one-step infusion. You probably already have the ingredients you need waiting in your spice cabinet — a few whole cinnamon sticks and some patience.

Cinnamon complements bourbon’s dominant tasting notes of vanilla, wood, nuts, honey, and smoke. Steeping cinnamon in cheaper bourbon can be a good way to use up the dregs of a bottle that failed to wow you. To make the upgrade, simply toss a few cinnamon sticks directly into the bourbon and allow it to infuse for about a week. A glass flip-top bottle or lidded Mason jar is the best tool for the job. Stash that bad boy in a cool, dry place away from direct light, and give it a good shake every couple days. After seven days have passed, begin taste-testing your bourbon to determine whether your desired sweet-spiced potency has been achieved. 

Feel free to infuse for more or less time depending on your taste preference. To expedite the process, use more cinnamon sticks. For example, eight whole sticks will expel their magic upon a 750ml bottle of bourbon in just five days.

Cinnamon-infused bourbon makes a fiery sipper on its own and takes cocktails to new intense levels

Cinnamon-infused cocktail with dried orange wheel

This upgrade will elevate any budget bourbon, but if possible, opt for a low-proof bourbon that’ll go down smoother and allow the cinnamon-spice flavor to shine. It packs all the cinnamon-spiced flavor of Fireball whisky without the hyper-sweet syrupy aftertaste. However, if you dig that characteristic, you could mix a few ounces of simple syrup into your infusion mix. For a more complex, layered flavor, you could also toss in a few whole cloves, star anise, a chunk of fresh nutmeg, apple slices, orange peels, cinnamon hard candies, or dried spicy red chile peppers to infuse alongside your cinnamon sticks. 

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Once it’s thoroughly infused, just strain through a mesh strainer or coffee filter and enjoy your customized spirit. You could sip this flavorful cinnamon-infused bourbon neat or on the rocks for a warming digestif with a lingering burn. Or, use your homemade cinnamon bourbon as the spirit in a bold cocktail recipe like an autumnal hot toddy, spiced Boulevardier, cobbler-esque Peach Bourbon Smash, or a smoky French 95.

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