Your House Gin

While vodka and gin drinkers can be as contentious as Democrats and Republicans, the two spirits themselves aren’t all that different. In fact, one could argue that gin was really the first flavored vodka.

There’s no shame in that: Infusing alcohol with herbs, spices and other botanicals creates a wonderfully complex liquor that’s at home in cocktails as diverse as the Martini and the Singapore Sling.

It also means that you can brew a batch yourself very easily (and legally) in your kitchen. Juniper berries (which you can find in many supermarkets) are a must, as their sweet and piney taste defines gin, but beyond that, the choices—from citrus peels and cucumber to black pepper and ginger root—are pretty much endless.

Inspired by the possibilities, we turned to three gin-making mixologists around the country and got three unique formulas for you to try.

At the Swann Lounge in Philadelphia’s Four Seasons Hotel, you can sample Michael Haggerty’s gin, which is bold and assertive, with grapefruit and clove holding center stage. He even uses it to replace whiskey in Old Fashioneds.

Keri Levens, wine director at New York’s famed Aquavit restaurant, is no stranger to infusions: Her menu offers a seasonally rotating assortment of 10 to 12 different house-made elixirs. And her three-ingredient Juniper and Lemon Aquavit is like gin reduced to its barest essence. She suggests featuring the concoction in a Negroni.

Fresh lemon verbena leaves from his establishment’s own herb garden are the secret to the G-Funk Gin (pictured above) dreamed up by Paul Sanguinetti at Ray’s and Stark Bar, the stylish restaurant at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The verbena gives the finished product a gentle vegetal note that’s best highlighted in a simple Gin & Tonic.

No matter which gin recipe you make, you just might never buy a regular old bottle again.

Swann Lounge Gin

Contributed by Michael Haggerty
INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 (1.75-L) bottle 100-proof vodka (such as Smirnoff Blue Label)
  • 2 tbsp juniper berries
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • Peels of 2 grapefruits
  • Peel of 1 lemon
  • Peel of 1 orange
  • 4 cloves
  • .5 tsp angelica root
  • .25 tsp cassia bark
  • .25 tsp fennel seeds

PREPARATION:
Pour the vodka into a large jar or bowl. Place the remaining ingredients into a muslin bag (or tie them up in a piece of cheesecloth). Submerge in the vodka and let stand for 3 days. Remove the bag and rebottle the liquid.

Juniper and Lemon Aquavit

Contributed by Keri Levens
INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 (750-mL) bottle Vodka
  • Peel of 1 lemon
  • .5 cup Juniper berries

PREPARATION:
Add all the ingredients to a large jar or bowl and let stand at room temperature for 2 to 3 weeks. Strain, and store in the refrigerator.

G-Funk Gin

Contributed by Paul Sanguinetti
INGREDIENTS:

  • .5 L Lukusowa Vodka
  • .5 L Akvinta Vodka
  • 5 large or 10 small Lemon verbena leaves
  • Peels of 2 lemons
  • Peels of 2 oranges
  • Peels of 2 grapefruits
  • 2 Star anise pods
  • 1 tbsp Caraway seeds
  • .5 cup Juniper berries

PREPARATION:
Add all the ingredients to a large jar or other glass container. Cover, and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Pour through a coarse strainer and a funnel lined with cheesecloth into a one-liter bottle.

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Comments

  1. Except these aren’t gins, which are typically distilled three times, with the third distillation incorporating botanicals into the still, where they flavor the vapor that comes off as the still concentrates alcohol.

  2. Bret Campos says

    My wife drinks Gin anI drink Vodka , maybe this could be something fun to do

  3. Actually, this is gin, it’s just not “distilled gin”. It’s a tincture or compounded gin. That being said, one doesn’t have to use vodka. One could also use everclear to bring out less-soluble compounds and then dilute with distilled water to an appropriate proof.

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