No, that’s not an HP-Lovecraft-esque beast; it’s a Buddha’s hand—Citrus medica, a fragrant citrus fruit native to northeastern India + China. The fruit’s used traditionally to perfume rooms in its native land and is also given as gifts in Buddhist religious ceremonies—”According to tradition, Buddha prefers the “fingers” of the fruit to be in a position where they resemble a closed rather than open hand, as closed hands symbolize to Buddha the act of prayer.”
But, with a thick peel + pith that are sweet rather than bitter as with most citrus, it also makes for a great infuser. Just cut the segments, or fingers, from the fruit and then divide down their middles to increase the exposed surface area. Place the resulting peel + pith (not fruit) into a sealable bottle and fill with vodka or another fairly neutral liquor. Allow to sit at room temperature for a few days to a week, shaking every now and then then to circulate the fruit in the liquid. Then use in any citrusy drink recipes, like the one pictured below—a great match for the heat we’re feeling in Los Angeles right now.
One amendment to said recipe straight from our ex-bartender friend, Hayden—it’s actually best to place the mint leaves in the palm of one hand and then slap them with your other a couple times rather than muddling them as the latter causes them to take on a bitter flavor.
And, for anyone who’s never made a syrup at home, you essentially add some water to some sugar stovetop and cook it down until the sugar’s dissolved and the liquid thickens a bit, becoming a little thinner than your run-of-the-mill maple syrup. To flavor a syrup, simple place your flavoring ingredient in while cooking down the syrup. We wrote up syrup-making in more detail in 2010. Note for this particular syrup—the jalapeño syrup—that you really do need to be careful around it. Cook it on low in a well-ventilated space and expect the fumes to burn the eyes, nose, and throat nonetheless while you’re making it.
We also wrote up a ton of other infusing ideas back in 2011 too for anyone interested.