Fuse Box

Infused Scotch and tequila at Poste, Ripple and Estadio

Anyone can throw some fruit into vodka and call it an infusion.

But adding flavors to stronger spirits like whiskey and tequila requires skill, and a bit of British sensibility. Bartenders across town are using teas and herbal components to complement stronger liquors.

Ripple At Cleveland Park's newly expanded Ripple, bar manager Theo Rutherford takes a culinary approach to his infusions. The resulting menu blends liquor with celery shrubs, bison grass and mellow, aromatic saffron. To flavor Scotch, Rutherford uses Earl Grey tea, which has slight bitter notes from bergamot and lemon to balance the smoky, peaty Scotch.

Estadio Bar manager Adam Bernbach uses mild, floral chamomile to draw out the rich sweetness of bourbon. Bernbach adds that flavored bourbon into his sharp, tangy Grapefruit Slushito ($9).

Poste Bartenders at this Penn Quarter restaurant have the assistance of the restaurant's giant, just-blooming garden when they work on infusions. The herbs work particularly well against the caramel and mild sugar flavors of tequila. To moderate the underlying sweetness of the agave-based Milagro Silver, the staff infuses it with anise hyssop ($10), the key ingredient in licorice tea.