It’s happened to us all: A beloved bottle of alcohol that you’ve been savoring for weeks, months or even years, finally gets to the last pour. There’s not enough of the spirit to make a proper cocktail or pour on the rocks. The last thing you want to do is waste that last ounce (that’s crazy talk) or, in your indecisiveness, leave the almost empty bottle to clutter up your bar and simply evaporate over time. While most of us usually just choose to slug it straight out of the bottle, I recently discovered a new way to use these bottom of the bottle liquor scraps: infinity bottles.
A new trend among liquor enthusiasts, infinity bottles are a way to take the last drops of your favorite booze brands and combine them together to form a unique, custom home blend that never ends. It’s like a choose-your-own-adventure book for spirits, with flavors changing over time as you add to the bottle. While I don’t advocate you blend a random hodgepodge of every type of spirit in the liquor rainbow—that would yield a Long Ice Tea-esque monstrosity—you can blend multiple types of the same spirit successfully.
Combining different gins creates an herbaceous kaleidoscope of flavors, especially if you throw aged, Old Tom gins like Ransom or Barr Hill into your bottle. With whiskey, you can choose to obey strict categories with your infinity bottle, like a bourbon mix or a blend of single malts, or opt for something more chaotic and unpredictable, like a blend of scotches, ryes, bourbons and Irish whiskies—an everything-but-the-kitchen sink whiskey infinity bottle. But I’ve found that the spirit best suited for infinity bottles is rum.
I first found out about infinity bottles from bartender Tyler Caffall and his wife Alexandra Caffall, whose personal infinity bottle was, at the time, a blend of El Dorado 5 Year rum, Denizen white and Merchant’s Reserve, with Old English Harbour 5 Year Antigua and a few splashes of random bottles they had lying around—agricole rum, dark rum, even spiced rum. The Caffalls’ infinity bottle was a delicious waste bucket of booze. Though at first I was hesitant, even skeptical, as Tyler poured me a full shot of the brown, heady smelling spirit, I was immediately convinced the second it hit my lips. Their mix was astonishingly complex, smooth and sophisticated. I could taste each rum that they used and the flavors synced together to create a harmonious flavor. It was like an Everlasting Gobstopper of rum: first the banana-custard flavors of El Dorado, then the dark molasses and burnt sugars from the darker rums like English Harbour, cinnamon and spice, and finally the raw funk of agricole.
After recovering from just how incredibly drinkable this slop bucket of a bottle was, I asked Tyler how the infinity rum came to be in the first place. He told me that he’d gotten the idea from a fellow bartender’s secret stash of infinity rum, which was cleverly labeled “All the Rums.” Upon tasting it, he asked himself, "Why the f*ck have I not been doing this?" Soon after, he started collecting dregs in an infinity bottle of his own.
Blending rums—or any spirits for that matter—is not a new concept. Most commercially available rums are blended to achieve depth, balance and consistency of flavor. Blends are created by the master blender, a rockstar genius in a white lab coat whose sole job is to drink, sniff and concoct perfection in a glass. The recipes for each blend often remain secret, hidden on coded manuscripts locked in vaults. While you may not have the training of a master blender, rums are fairly forgiving. “Blending rums is like going to the best family reunion,” Tyler says. “They always get along.”