I love it when I find a way to use a part of a food that I thought was unusable, except maybe for compost. This week, I learned how to use pistachio shells to infuse vodka. Pistachio-flavored cocktails have been popping up in my research lately, so I wanted to check out the trend. I discovered that one way to add pistachio flavor in a cocktail is to use the shells to infuse vodka, and I knew I needed to give it a try.
How to infuse vodka with pistachio shells

There’s a recipe on Liquor.com that I used as the basis for the cocktail I made, including the site's method for infusing vodka with pistachio shells. Their recommendation is to infuse the vodka for a minimum of 24 hours. I wanted to get a strong pistachio flavor in my vodka, so I let the shells and vodka steep together for a week.

Making pistachio shell-infused vodka is simple. For every one cup of vodka, use two ounces of raw, unsalted pistachio shells. Put the shells in a clean bottle that can be fitted with a tight lid. Add the vodka. Put the lid on tightly and store in a dark place. After five to seven days, strain the vodka using a fine mesh sieve into a new clean jar. Cover with a tight lid until ready to use.
The type of vodka you use for this will depend on what you plan to do with the infused vodka. If you’re going to make a drink like this Pistachio Ginger Mule, a lesser quality vodka can be used because ginger is such a powerful flavor. If you wanted to try to make a Pistachio Vodka Martini, you might want to use a better quality vodka. (And if you do try to make one of those, let me know how turns out.)
Liquor.com used fresh ginger beer and simple syrup in their version. I had Powell & Mahoney Ginger Mixer on hand, so I used that instead. The pistachio flavor from the vodka gave the drink a nutty quality that worked well with the kick provided by the ginger.

Prep time: 30 minutes  

Total time: 1 week, 30 minutes  

Yield: 1 cocktail

Pistachio Ginger Mule

Ingredients

  • 2-ounce pistachio shell-infused vodka
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 ounce P&M Ginger Syrup, or similar
  • Splash Ginger beer
  • 1 lime wedge for garnish
Cooking directions
  1. Fill a shaker with ice. Add vodka, lime juice and ginger syrup. Shake vigorously.
  2. Pour the vodka mixture into a rocks glass filled with ice.
  3. Top with ginger beer.
  4. Garnish with a lime wedge.

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.