By Clair Robins / clair@candystore.com

After a busy Christmas, let’s be honest, we could all use a drink. Yesterday, Dec. 26 was National Candy Cane Day. I can think of no better way of honoring that iconic (if not actually well liked) treat than making candy cane-infused vodka martinis.

Christmas is amazing, but it’s also exhausting. All that prep work, decorating, wrapping presents. Heck, just deciding what presents to buy people gives me a migraine. Then your obnoxious aunt was complaining about your drunk uncle and all the kids, God bless them, are running around like banshees tearing open the next present and throwing the last one they opened over their shoulder like it didn’t take me two hours of surfing the web to finally find that thing anyway!

Phew. I do love Christmas. But when it’s over, I’m glad it’s over. And sometimes, Momma needs a drink.

And since the day after Christmas is National Candy Cane day, and there are all these candy canes around, let’s ring in the new year with some candy-flavored vodka cocktails. Instead of pouring martinis and snacking on all that leftover bulk candy, why not combine the two for a fun, sweet get together?

Candy-infused vodka is growing in popularity, and it’s an indulgence that we partake in every once in a while. If you’ve never infused vodka, you’re really missing out. It’s relatively easy, and super delicious. Here we go.

The Basics

Making candy infused vodka is a lot like making rock candy. There is one basic recipe, but many variations of it. There are even more variations for infused vodka, because of the different candy types you can use.

The basic steps:

1. Pour candy into a glass container with a lid, such as a mason jar.

2. Pour vodka on top of candy, at least covering it and usually to fill three-quarters of the container.

3. Seal container and let sit for some amount of time — usually at least 24 hours and up to a week.

That’s about it. The last step, of course, means that there is plenty of variation. Which is why we’ve also come up with some guidelines.

Guidelines

After looking at the wonderful candy infused vodka recipes we’ve gathered, you’ll probably want to try your own concoctions. Even better, you might be inspired to try some candies that aren’t in this list.

After reading about and experimenting with candy infused vodka, we’ve come up with a set of guidelines for creating your own. Some of them are tough to follow (you won’t really know how long to infuse the vodka until you try), but if you keep them in mind you’ll probably create something at least drinkable.

1. Go for a mid-range Vodka. You can infuse any kind of vodka, but we don’t see why you’d spend good money on a bottle of Grey Goose only to adulterate it. Avoid the plastic-jug vodka, but get something in the middle tier — something you wouldn’t be too upset if you ruined.

2. Stick with a single flavor/color per infusion. Throughout this list you’ll find many multi-flavor candies. While you can toss them all into a jar and pour vodka on top, what you’ll get is an oddly flavored, brown-looking mess. If you’re using Jolly Ranchers, for instance, use just the watermelon — or, if you’re feeling adventurous, combine all the flavors that are colored red. But mixing and matching usually produces dreary looking results.

3. Use mason jars or other glass containers. We saw some people using plastic containers to infuse vodka. While there are certainly plastics that can withstand alcohol, we really don’t recommend it. You’ll do just fine with a mason jar.

4. Some candies absorb alcohol well. This isn’t so much a guideline as a reminder. If you infuse gummy candy like gummy bears, they’re going to absorb a good amount of that alcohol. Find a way to serve them.

5. No sugar coating. Most people don’t want to infuse something like sour candy or gumdrops, because the sugar coating will render the vodka far too sweet.

Got it? OK. Let’s move on to some of our favorite candy infused vodka recipes.

Fruity Candies

There are two separate joys in infusing vodka: the flavor and the color. Fruity candies lend themselves to both. You’ll probably want to play with infusion times. Some of these candies can break down quickly, while others will hold together for a week. You can also play with combinations, although single-color infusions look significantly prettier.

Candy Cane Vodka

There was no way we were getting out of this one without mentioning candy canes. This is no amateur infusion attempt. This is putting your candy canes in the food processor to make sure you get maximum infusion. Seriously, pros only.

Starburst Infused Vodka

If you like your vodka sweet, then you are going to love this Starburst infused vodka recipe. Jen from Mix That Drink approached this infusion with gusto, creating bottles for every flavor in the pack — even combining the strawberry and lemon ones for an experimental flavor. The Starburst completely broke down within a day, so you’ll have to carefully filter these or else it’ll be all thick and syrupy.

Skittles Infused Vodka

We’re dipping right back into MTD, because they did a phenomenal job on not only Starburst, but also Skittles candy infused vodka. As with the Starbust, the Skittles dissolve overnight. You’ll need a very good strainer, such as cheesecloth, to make sure none of the goop makes it into your vodka. But once you get that stuff filtered out, it’s some fruity tasting vodka indeed.

Jolly Rancher Vodka

Again, we could have put this one with the fruity candies, but Jolly Ranchers have really become the quintessential hard candy of our times. Most of all, Jolly Ranchers are perfect for combining, since they have many different flavors of each color. So go nuts, and find something that really suits your palate.

Jolly Rancher vodka

Starburst-flavored vodka