Golden Gin – make your own gin!
Some say there was once a dude who turned water into wine. Neat trick but I think we can do better. Let’s get miraculous and turn some boring old vodka into gin! In cocktailworld vodka doesn’t feature in many (any?) decent drinks – being all flavourless and such – but gin is almost infinitely useful. But why would we make gin when we could just buy some gin? Three good reasons: 1) Some well-meaning friend gifts you a bottle of vodka. 2) You spot some heavily discounted vodka at your local booze outlet. 3) The gin you make will be your gin. Well actually it’ll be my gin first but later on it can be your gin. You up for this? Great! Read on:
The method we’re going to use is the quick-and-dirty method of just soaking the botanicals in some neutral spirit (ie. vodka) whereas “proper” gin is redistilled with the botanicals, – often suspended in a basket in the still. While our method lacks sophistication I promise you that you can still wring some pretty impressive results out of it. The only downside is that the gin tends to end up less than clear but I just make a feature of that by calling it “golden gin”. Since vodka is an unflavoured spirit it matters naught which brand you use but do make sure it is at least 40% abv (80 US proof) as any less will be detrimental to the extraction of the flavours.
You can use any “botanicals” you like but this super-simple recipe makes a very “standard” gin to get us up and running. I suggest starting with the recipe below and then fine-tuning it to your taste in future batches, perhaps adding some other botanicals. Gin isn’t gin without some juniper so that’s a no-brainer for a start and our other ingredients, which we use here in smaller amounts, are also typically used in many commercial gins. I’ve also stuck with dried ingredients for our “base” gin because they are better suited to the infusion method and also make it easier to control the strength of our final product. All should be available from any decent spice merchant or online*. Other suggestions for further experimentation include, but are not limited to; cinnamon, elderflower, angelica, anise, lemongrass, orange peel, saffron, ginger, black pepper, kaffir lime leaves and just about anything else that takes your fancy. Just make sure that the predominant flavour is juniper and you won’t go too far wrong.
Golden Gin (500ml).
Add to a clean bottle or jar:
3 teaspoons of dried juniper berries
0.5 teaspoon of dried lemon peel
0.5 teaspoon of coriander seeds
2 green cardamom pods
Pour in 500ml of 40%+ abv vodka**.
Leave for about 48 hours shaking now and then.
Strain out the solids using an unbleached coffee filter.
Bottle and enjoy!
XXX UPDATE XXX
After a while of gin-making it has become clear to me that there is a strange effect that I should mention to you. Your gin likes to rest. Once filtered and bottled leave your home-made gin to sit and get to know itself for a couple of weeks before consuming. I’ve found a marked difference in its flavour; smoother, more integrated, a little mellower. Just nicer all round. Nope, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the same for all gin but by the time it’s gone all the way through the supply chain to our home bar it has had ample chill time. Anyway, you’ve been informed so the rest is up to you!
XXX UPDATE 2 XXX
I’ve come quite a bit further in the world of gin making and have now upward-edited the amount of juniper by a factor of three. So if you’re revisiting this article – no, you’re going mad – the proportions have changed.
*I use these guys (Netherlands, Belgium and possibly further afield).
** Feel free to boost the alcohol content as it helps with flavour extraction. I like to use a 60:40 mix of 40% and 50% vodkas giving me a final ABV of 44%.