I am, unabashedly, a brown liquor lover. So this year, at New Orleans annual Tales of the Cocktail, I decided to take a seminar that was out of my comfort zone. H2O cocktails, led by Kathy Casey, author of Sips and Apps, focused on mixing different brands of vodka (we started with a tasting of the spirits alone so that we could discover the nuances of each) with waters that were infused with fruit, spices, and herbs. No sugar, no extra mixers, just vodka and water. Each cocktail contained 1 ounce of vodka, bringing it in at 80 calories. For the vodka lover, light drinker, or weight conscious it's a nice alternative to all of the sugary cocktails that abound.
Beyond that, I enjoyed the infused waters by themselves. I haven't starting experimenting yet (it generally takes me a day or two to recover from my annual 24 hours of Cocktail festivites), but I can't wait to get started. I learned how to infuse the slow way, as noted in the recipes below, and how to make rapid infusions by using an iSi whipper and two N2O cartridges. After creating an infusion (slow or rapid), you could take it a step further and carbonate it using a device like the Twist 'n Sparkle.
It's a different way to think about water and a different way to think about cocktails. Maybe I'll always be a bourbon lover, but now I have a something new in my bag of tricks.
Here are the recipes from Kathy's seminar (also found on her website). Click on the images below to get a full-size version: