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The Idiot’s Guide for How to Infuse Bourbon – Especially With Cookies

5 from 1 vote

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Shortbread Cookie-infused bourbon on a tray with two cookies
Shortbread Cookie-Infused Bourbon

Cookie-infused bourbon is your next favorite cocktail ingredient. Bourbon is a beautiful thing. With nothing added to it you can get rich vanilla, caramel, and spice notes. Often fruits and nuts come out if you nose it and sip it slowly. Why mess with perfection?

Here’s why: infusing whiskey with cookies is one of the easiest ways to make an out of this world cocktail. It is a revelation.

These cookie infusions are like homemade moonshines. You take a base spirit – in this case bourbon – add cookies, wait a few days, strain out the cookie and you’re left with a bourbon you can pour over the rocks as a cocktail.

Put it in an actual cocktail and the flavor explosions can be mind-blowing. Let’s get started. I’m covering two I’ve done recently – oatmeal cookies and shortbread.

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What Is a Bourbon Infusion?

oatmeal cookie old fashioned with cookie and cinnamon stick garnish
Oatmeal Cookie Old Fashioned

Bourbon infusions start with bourbon and add flavor components to it via other food or spice elements. You could add cinnamon, vanilla, or nutmeg. You might want to add apples, peaches, or blackberries. Or you might want to add cookies, candies, or sweet treats. We’re going to stick with that last example for this article. It’s so much fun!

The most common infusions for bourbon I’ve seen or tried:

  • Fruits: apples, peaches, berries
  • Dried fruits: plums, apricots, figs, raisins, dates
  • Spices: vanilla, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, cardamom, peppercorn, cacao
  • Flowers: rose, hibiscus, honeysuckle, lavender
  • Candy/Food: red hots, hard candies, caramels, chocolate, cookies

Because bourbon contains alcohol it’s able to strip the flavor and aroma compounds from the elements added to the infusion, and those compounds interact with and enhance the flavors of the bourbon. Just as the bourbon moves into and out of the barrel, picking up flavor molecules from the wood, it does the same with the elements of your infusion.

How Do You Infuse Bourbon?

Bottle of bourbon, oatmeal cookie and oatmeal cookie-infused bourbon
Oatmeal Cookie-Infused Bourbon

The process for infusing bourbon is simple.

  1. Pour the amount of bourbon you want to infuse into a clean jar.
  2. Add in the elements you want to infuse. In our case, we’re adding cookies. Seal and put in a dark place.
  3. Let it sit for a day or two, swirling around the liquids each day.
  4. Taste it after a day, then every 12 hours until you love it.
  5. Strain it through a metal sieve.
  6. Strain it through a metal sieve lined with a coffee filter overnight if the bourbon is still cloudy or has lots of particulates in it. This is only an issue when you’re infusing with fresh fruits, cookies or other foods that dissolve into the bourbon leaving particulates.
  7. Store in a clean jar in the fridge.

Tips and Tricks for Bourbon Infusions

Not every infusion turns out as planned, and you might create some that are best forgotten, but as long as you make small batches and take notes of what you need to change for next time, you can chalk it all up to a learning experience. Here are some tips I’ll share:

Use whole spices unless you’re working with nutmeg or cardamom. For both of those I would crack them.

For fruits, cut them into smaller pieces; the more surface area the faster it will infuse.

For dried fruit, remember that some of the alcohol will be left in the fruit when you finish. Your total volume will drop far more than if you’re using fresh fruit. However, you won’t need to add as much fruit to the infusion.

Taste the infusion every day. Once it tastes great, strain it, and bottle it.

For baked goods, like cookies or donuts, you’ll need the patience to let it sit overnight in a coffee-lined metal sieve or your bourbon will look very cloudy.

Low-proof bourbons may appear cloudy after infusions. For lower-proofed bourbons, those under 92 proof, the molecules added to the infusion may be visible when chilled. Just be aware that there’s nothing wrong with your infusion if you look in on it in the fridge and it has a slight cloudy haze. That’s just those tasty molecules you’ve added showing up because the spirit is lower proofed and kept at a low temperature.

When you taste food infusions, DO NOT agitate directly before taking a sip, and use a straw to get down to the clearer part of the infusion. Don’t take a sip directly from the container of the solids are floating on top.

So, those are tips and tricks for any infusion. Now, let’s talk cookie infusions.

Cookie-Infused Bourbon

Bottle of bourbon, oatmeal cookie and oatmeal cookie-infused bourbon
Oatmeal Cookie-Infused Bourbon

The process for a cookie-infused bourbon is very similar to the process with any element, but because they cookies are high in sugar and fat, they need extra filtering/straining to get them close to their original clarity.

In the process of infusing whole foods and candies, the infusion can look disgusting. It can look like a jar you don’t want to open. But you open it and take a sip, and you know you’re going in the right direction.

Please note that when you taste test these, use a straw to dip down to the clearer part of the infusion, not the floating solids on the top. Those are parts of the cookies that will be filtered away in the final steps. Aim the bottom of your straw for the whiskey-colored sections of the infusion. DON’T AGITATE RIGHT BEFORE YOU TASTE. If you do that, you’re drinking a room-temperature chunky whiskey smoothie. Do not recommend.

Cookies and food don’t generally take a week to infuse. Generally, my cookie infusions are ready between 1 to 3 days. After the first day, taste every 8 to 12 hours until you love the infusion.

Once you’re ready to strain, you’ll need patience. First, strain the mixture through a fine metal sieve. You’ll likely still have lots of particulates in the bourbon.

Next, line the metal sieve with a coffee filter and place over a large mixing cup or bowl. Pour in the infusion and let sit until strained through. Generally, with cookies, this takes overnight. I usually place a plate over the top of the infusion while it’s going to reduce evaporation of the alcohol during the process.

When done, bottle it up and store in the refrigerator. I’ve had infusions keep for a couple of months, but to be honest, they’re consumed far before then.

Oatmeal Cookie Infusion

oatmeal cookie old fashioned with cookie and cinnamon stick garnish
Oatmeal Cookie Old Fashioned

I’ve got more on the process of the oatmeal cookie infusion here in this article on the Oatmeal Cookie Old Fashioned. But it follows the same process outlined above.

What’s it taste like? It is rich, cinnamon-filled, buttery, full of vanilla notes and brown sugar tastes. It tastes as if your bourbon had a one-night stand with an oatmeal cookie. And it kinda did.

The specific recipe for the Oatmeal Cookie infusion is at the bottom of the article, but you’ll need around 4 large oatmeal cookies and a bourbon you love to make this infusion.

We’ll put the cookies in a clean mason jar and add about a half bottle of bourbon. Make sure the bourbon covers the cookies. Now we wait.

Agitate the jar every few hours. Taste at 24 hours, then every 8 to 12 hours until you love it. It will look awful. Really, really revolting. It will smell wonderful and look awful.

When finished infusing, strain the mixture through a metal sieve. Then, line a large metal sieve with a coffee filter and strain again. You may have to let the mixture sit out for several hours or overnight.

Once strained, store in the fridge in a clean jar or bottle.

Shortbread Cookie-Infused Bourbon

Shortbread Cookie-Infused Bourbon on a tray with cookies
Shortbread Cookie-Infused Bourbon

Just like the oatmeal cookie infusion above, we’re putting whole cookies in a mason jar with bourbon and letting it sit for a day or two. In this case, the shortbread cookies have a much higher fat content and dissolve even faster.

You’ll lose a larger portion of the bourbon in the infusion because it’s a more delicate cookie and less of it will be able to go through the filter once it melds with the fat in the butter. However, I still ended up with a good 16 oz of the infusion.

The full recipe is at the end of this article, but for this infusion, I used 12 shortbread cookies and 3 cups of bourbon. Again, I put them in a mason jar and kept them in a dark place. For this infusion, I kept it for closer to 2 days, tasting every few hours after day 1.

When finished infusing, strain the mixture through a metal sieve. Then, line a large metal sieve with a coffee filter and strain again. You may have to let the mixture sit out for several hours or overnight.

Once strained, store in the fridge in a clean jar or bottle.

How to Use Infused Bourbon

Afternoon Tea Toddy with Shortbread Cookies and lemon clove garnish
Afternoon Tea Toddy with Shortbread-infused Bourbon

Once the bourbon has been filtered, labeled, and stored in the fridge, you’re ready to get creative.

First taste the bourbon to see how much of the cookie comes through in the alcohol. If it’s just a hint of the cookie, you might want to use it in cocktails that build on that softer base of flavor. But if it’s a strong, easily apparent flavor, you can add it as a liqueur to a cocktail that needs a boost of the flavor it’s presenting.

I always love testing a whiskey infusion three ways, an old fashioned, a Manhattan and a whiskey sour.

For the oatmeal cookie-infused bourbon I created an oatmeal cookie old fashioned that added some cinnamon bitters and maple syrup to the mix to make a cocktail that tastes just like an oatmeal cookie. It was perfect for a dessert cocktail.

The shortbread bourbon was not as strong as the oatmeal, but had a much creamier, buttery taste. It was heavenly in both a toddy and an old fashioned. It’s going in a sour with some salted caramel soon, too.

What Bourbon to Use for Your Cookie Infusion

backlit shelves of bourbon
Wall of bourbon at Frazier Museum

The bourbon you’ll use depends on what you’re infusing. I generally like to use a 90-95 proof bourbon when working on infusions. That proof pulls more from the elements you’re infusing than a lower proof bourbon because of the increased alcohol content.

I generally use bourbons with some of the matching flavor components of what I’m adding. In this case, for the shortbread cookie infusion I used Elijah Craig Small Batch. For the Oatmeal Cookie-infused bourbon I used Old Bardstown Bottled in Bond – 100 proof. Because of the stronger flavors in the oatmeal cookies it worked, even at that higher proof.

While some people advocate using a higher proof spirit to extract more of the flavors and aromas from the infusion, it can make the final product too hot and harsh.

However, as in all things, I recommend taking the time to test and find the proof sweet spot for you when creating bourbon infusions.

Now Go Make a Cookie-Infused Bourbon

Enough talk! Go grab a jar and some of your favorite cookies to make a cookie-infused bourbon. And let me know what you did and how it worked!

I’ve got the Oatmeal Cookie-Infused Bourbon and the Shortbread Cookie-Infused Bourbon recipes below. Enjoy!

Did you try it? I love getting unsolicited DRINK pics from you when you try out a cocktail. Send them along to me on social media. Join me on my social channels at @cocktail_contessa on Instagram and Cocktail Contessa on Facebook and use the hashtags #cocktailcontessa and #bourbonismycomfortfood.

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Shortbread Cookie-infused bourbon on a tray with two cookies

Shortbread Cookie-Infused Bourbon

Picture of Heather Wibbels, Cocktail Contessa, pouring a cocktailHeather Wibbels
Enjoy this creamy, buttery infused bourbon perfect to add to a bit of afternoon tea, or to an Earl Grey-inspired Manhattan. Even an old fashioned tastes better with a little buttery cookie taste in it.  If you’re a fan of shortbread, this is a must-try.
5 from 1 vote
Course Drinks
Cuisine Bourbon Cocktail
Servings 1

Ingredients
  

  • 3 cups bourbon
  • 12 shortbread cookies

Instructions
 

  • Place the cookies in the bottom of a mason jar and add bourbon. Make sure the bourbon covers the cookies.
  • Let the jar sit, agitating the mixture about every 8-10 hours for about 36 to 48 hours. It will look a mess in the jar, but it means the flavors are melded.
  • When finished infusing, strain the mixture through a metal sieve.
  • Then, line a large metal sieve with a coffee filter and strain again. You may have to let the mixture sit out for several hours or overnight.
  • Once strained, store in the fridge in a clean jar or bottle. Yield is 16-20 oz of infused bourbon.
Keyword bourbon, bourbon infusion, cookie, infusion, shortbread
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Bottle of bourbon, oatmeal cookie and oatmeal cookie-infused bourbon

Oatmeal Cookie-Infused Bourbon

Picture of Heather Wibbels, Cocktail Contessa, pouring a cocktailHeather Wibbels
The bourbon captures the taste and smells of the oatmeal, from the cinnamon and nutmeg to the vanilla and toasted oats. It really does taste like you’re drinking an oatmeal cookie. Magic!
5 from 1 vote
Course Drinks
Cuisine Bourbon Cocktail
Servings 12

Ingredients
  

  • 4 soft homemade style oatmeal raisin cookies, broken into large pieces
  • 375 mL (1/2 bottle of) bourbon

Instructions
 

  • Place the cookies in the bottom of a mason jar and add 375 mL of bourbon. Make sure the bourbon covers the cookies.
  • Let the jar sit, agitating the mixture about every 8-10 hours for about 30 hours. It will look a mess in the jar, but that means the flavors are melded.
  • When finished infusing, strain the mixture through a metal sieve.
  • Then, line a large metal sieve with a coffee filter and strain again. You may have to let the mixture sit out for several hours or overnight.
  • Once strained, store in the fridge in a clean jar or bottle. Yield is a little less than 12 ounces.
Keyword bourbon, bourbon infusion, oatmeal cookie, whiskey infusion
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
By on October 15th, 2020
Picture of Heather Wibbels, Cocktail Contessa, pouring a cocktail

About Heather Wibbels

Heather Wibbels is a whiskey enthusiast (Executive Bourbon Steward, no less) with a passion for cocktails. She loves researching and designing cocktails, drinking cocktails, and teaching cocktails. Mostly whiskey cocktails, given her Kentucky location

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2 thoughts on “The Idiot’s Guide for How to Infuse Bourbon – Especially With Cookies”

  1. 5 stars
    This is a great take on a bourbon. Never imagined a cookie could be infused into a bourbon and add a whole new layer of depth to it. I tried it out yesterday and absolutely loved it. Thank you for sharing this.

    Reply
    • You are so welcome, Tommy. It’s so interesting to me how the mouthfeel completely changes on a whiskey when that much butter and fat is added to a whiskey by way of infusion. And I love the creaminess it imparts.

      Reply

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