Tarragon is a perennial plant of the sunflower family, which is widespread across Central Asia, Eastern Europe, China, India and Northern America. This plant is used in culinary, particularly as a meat rub, but in post-Soviet countries, it is also the base ingredient in the Tarhun soft drink, which is very popular in the post-Soviet countries. Experienced winemakers know that this play can also be used to make a tarragon infusion with vodka or any other strong alcohol—a fragrant drink with a very characteristic flavor.
Tarragon infusion can only be made with fresh tarragon leaves since its stalk gives out a very strong bitterness. Dried tarragon leaves add a slight “grassy” flavor.
- Fresh tarragon leaves – 20-25 grams
- Vodka (40-45% ethanol or moonshine) – 0.5 liter
- Sugar – 1 tbsp and to taste
- Fresh mint– 15-20 grams (optional)
- 1 lemon (optional)
- Liquid honey – to taste
Vodka is the most optimal base alcohol, but a well filtered redistilled moonshine or ethanol diluted to 40-45% will also do fine. Lemon and mint go well with tarragon and add new shades of flavor. However, you can also make a classic tarragon infusion with only leaves—just simply ignore the second and the third steps. You can use fresh white or floral honey instead of sugar.
Tarhun Recipe (Tarragon Infusion)
1. Rinse tarragon leaves with tap water, let them dry. Then cut them into small pieces and put in a glass fermentation container. Add a tablespoon of sugar, shake a few times, seal, and leave for 2-3 hours in a dark place. Sugar promotes the extraction of substances from the plant.
2. Pour boiling water on the lemon, wash it with tap water and wipe dry, and then peel it by removing the yellow part of the peel without the white bitter pulp. Wash and dry mint leaves.
3.Put the cut mint and zest in the tarhun container. Squeeze half of the lemon.
4. Pour in the base alcohol, stir, and seal. Infuse the tarhun with vodka at room temperature in a dark place for 7 days. Shake once a day.
5. Strain the obtained infusion through cheesecloth, squeeze the herbal part. You can optionally sweeten it with sugar or liquid honey to taste.
To achieve full clarity, you can strain the drink through cotton wool or coffee filter.
6. Bottle the homemade tarragon infusion for storing (preferably in dark glass bottles) and seal it.
Depending on the properties of the herbs used, the infusion might have an apple green or cognac color which will become light straw eventually.
Store in a dark place. Shelf life is up to 2 years. 30-36% ABV. Sooner or later the color might change, but this won’t affect the taste.