Extreme Cocktail Infusions

Extreme infusions make for thrilling drinking

Infusions are the cupcakes of the cocktail world: Admittedly, we delighted in them at one point, but the ubiquity of jalapeño-infused tequila and its mediocre sisters has stripped infusions of their luster.

But just when we think we've seen it all, a new surprise emerges from behind the stick. Lately, those seeking a jolt to their jaded drinking need only look to a bolder crop of infused creations.

In San Francisco, Smuggler's Cove proprietor Martin Cate uses his comprehensive knowledge of classic tiki drinks to inform zany contemporary creations like the Zombie Apocalypse. Cate fat-washes Lemon Hart rum with cinnamon-spiced calf's brains to form the base of the drink, then completes the effect with a skewered hunk of seared brain–drizzled in grenadine–as a garnish (click here to download the recipe).

At Brooklyn's new Maison Premiere oyster bar, cocktail consultant Don Lee is experimenting with an infusion that matches the menu, using a nitrogen-charged iSi cream whipper to impart the flavor of raw oysters into diluted absinthe.

And in Washington, D.C., bartender Owen Thomson makes a cowboy-worthy cocktail at Café Atlántico. For the "Daisy If You Do," he soaks strips of saddle leather (specially tanned to make it food-safe) with tequila, and combines it with rye-berry-infused St-Germain for a drink that befits a John Wayne film.

Editor's Note: Café Atlántico has closed.