Gin is one of the most flexible categories of spirits. Essentially any neutral spirit infused with botanicals – herbs, spices, citrus, and so forth – counts as gin, as long as the mix of botanicals includes a predominant juniper flavor. That means that it’s surprisingly easy to transform a bottle of plain old vodka into delicious homemade gin.
My spice cupboard – while very well stocked in general – did not as yet include juniper berries. This meant that my efforts to infuse my own gin (I skipped the distilling part due to a strong desire not to go blind or die of methanol poisoning) began with a Metro ride out to Maplewood in search of juniper. After a quick trip to Penzey’s Spices for a bottle of berries (and a prolonged detour to nearby Vom Fass to sample absinthe & floral liqueurs), I hopped over to Shop & Save to pick up my neutral spirit. I chose a bottle of semi-local Pearl vodka.
Armed with my vodka (or, as I liked to think of it, my pre-gin) and my berries, it was time to begin the infusion process.
While there are a wealth of gin recipes available on the Internet, I chose to start with this one from The Hungry Mouse.
I adapted the recipe after tasting my first infusion, so the ingredients you see below are from my ever-so-slightly different blend (I reduced the amounts of the coriander and allspice to mellow the spice and let the other flavors come through more).
I highly recommend trying out the recipe for yourself!
1 (750ml) bottle of vodka (or other neutral spirit)
3 Tablespoons dried juniper berries
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
3 green cardamom pods
3 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 piece fresh lemon peel
1 sprig fresh lavender
- Sanitize a glass bottle with hot, soapy water.
- Add the botanicals to the bottle.
- Pour over the vodka.
- Shake the bottle vigourously.
- Let sit overnight in a cool, dark place. I infused mine for close to 24 hours total.
- Shake the bottle again.
- Strain out the solids, and then run the gin through a coffee filter a few times. The result will still have a slight golden color.
I tested out my infusion with some gin & tonics (don’t look at me like that – I made one for me and one for Joe!). They were DELICIOUS! Well worth the (24 hour) wait. I’m saving the rest of the bottle to divide up and give out as prizes at the murder mystery party for Best Dressed and Best Performance.
Guess I’ll just have to make more soon.