Beverage Series – Tom Yum Vodka Shots

I’m not a big cocktail drinker, but if I do have one, I definitely like the more fruity or zesty cocktails as opposed to the creamy ones. Despite my intense chocolate love, I’d have a caprioska over a mudslide any day.

In the supermarkets here you can buy these little packs of goodies to make Tom Yum. They include chillies, galangal, lemongrass and kaffir lime. I don’t know what came over me, but I looked at a pack one day and thought ‘that would make a great cocktail.’

Despite the fact that each of these ‘shots’ don’t even have half a shot of vodka in them, I’m not exactly sitting at home having shots every night of the week. In fact I actually turned down a social event last night because I’m feeling decidedly like a nanna (not my nanna’s though – they’re cool). The sugar syrup will last for ages in the fridge though and I daresay now that I’ve had a taste of the vodka shots, it will sit there until another picnic-like event where I can share it around.


Tom Yum packs. Lemongrass, a lime, galangal, HOT chillies and kaffir lime leaves. All for just over $2.00SGD (around $1.70AUD)


kalamansi limes

I’m always confused about counting kaffir lime leaves because they look like two individual leaves that are joined. For the sake of this recipe, when I refer to 1 kaffir lime leaf, I’m talking about 1 whole piece which includes 2 joined leaves. So that piece you see under the chillies, is 1 leaf in this recipe. Argh, does that even make sense?



You can use add this spiced sugar syrup to a shot of vodka for a sweet and spicy vodka shot or you can use it as a base for a larger glass (and a less potent) vodka and soda cocktail. The syrup ends up with a great kaffir lime scent and flavour. Don’t worry, it’s not spicy hot from the other ingredients, it just has a kind of warm spice to it.



Once strained, the syrup will keep well in a sealed container in the fridge for at least a week. If you want to keep this for any longer, add a shot of vodka directly into it. The alcohol will make it last longer.



You don’t have to use the soda water. It just cuts through the sweetness of the syrup a little. You also don’t have to use a cocktail shaker, just stir it together really well instead.



Kalamansi limes are tiny little limes with a great lime flavour that is slightly less tart and a bit sweeter than a normal lime. I squeezed a little of their juice into the syrup and vodka mix and garnished each glass with half of one too. If you can’t find them, just use a normal lime, cut into wedges.


tom yum vodka shots

I’ve called these ‘shots’ but they aren’t too strong and can easily be sipped.

I took these photos around lunch time and then had 3 shot glasses with a little vodka in each one just sitting there…you can work out the rest of that story.



Beverage Series – Tom Yum Vodka Shots


Ingredients for the Tom Yum Syrup – Makes about 1½ cups of flavoured sugar syrup

  • 1½ cups of fine white sugar
  • 1 small red chilli cut into rough pieces
  • 5 whole kaffir lime leaves
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1cm piece of galangal. Alternatively use ginger
  • 2 smashed lemongrass stalks
  • pinch of sea salt



  1. Place all of the ingredients into a medium saucepan with 1½ cups of water.
  2. Place over a low heat and stir constantly until the sugar dissolves then increase the heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Once the syrup has reached a simmer, continue simmering for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Once the 5 minutes has elapsed, remove from the heat and let cool for at least 30 minutes before covering and placing in the fridge to chill.
  4. At this point, you can infuse the syrup overnight for a more intense flavour or just wait until the syrup has chilled.
  5. Strain the syrup well before using. Keeps well in the fridge for at least a week. If you want to keep this for any longer than that, add a shot of vodka directly into it. The alcohol will make it last longer.


To Make the Shots – Enough for around 6 tall shot glasses

  • 4 shot measures of the strained syrup
  • 2 shots of vodka
  • around 6 ice cubes
  • small amount of chilled soda water
  • 5 kalamansi limes, halved. Alternatively use 1 lime cut into wedges (seeds removed)
  • 3 lemongrass stalks, cut in half lengthways and then trimmed into a length that is just a few centimetres taller than the shot glass



  1. In a cocktail shaker, place the vodka, syrup and ice cubes. Squeeze the juice from 4 of the kalamansi lime halves (or from a wedge of the normal lime) into the shaker as well, then place the lid on and shake to combine the ingredients.
  2. In each shot glass, place a kalamansi lime half (or wedge of normal lime) and the lemongrass garnish. Using the shaker to strain off the ice cubes, pour the vodka and syrup mix into each glass. Top up with a little soda water if you like.


vodka shots



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Hi! I’m Taryn. The Wooden Spoons is a food blog and collection of wooden spoons, recipes and stories. I’m a Canberra fan-girl with a passion for all things food. I love South East Asian food, fusion food done well and slow cooked anything. I don’t get quinoa, have a mild phobia of milk touching my skin and custard from a package freaks me out. Thanks for joining me on my cooking and food adventures.

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