I love gin!! Most people I talk to say that it is gross and tastes like a pine tree but I enjoy the flavor a lot. It is my favorite liquor by far. With so many different vendors and small batch gins coming on the market I have found that many people are tinkering with making their own homemade gin.
Gin is basically the first flavored vodka! You thought that lemon, cotton candy, and marshmallow fluff flavored vodka were first? Nope. Well technically the Dutch Genever was first but the English couldn't really mimic it and it's a long (but interesting) history you can check out yourself if you want to geek out on it.
Reading into it, most distilleries take a neutral spirit (i.e. Vodka) and infuse it with botanicals. I cannot, since it is against the law, distill my own alcohol and even if I could, the still would be crazy expensive and a very arduous process. The process I will share here takes minimal effort but yields very satisfying and tasty results!
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Step 1: Gather Goodies
As far as supplies go, you will need:
funnel, digital scale preferably that reads to the hundredth scale, knife, measuring spoons, peeler, and also a strainer and perhaps even some cheese cloth and/or a chemex filter
For the ingredients:
375 mL vodka
Note - don't get top shelf and definitely don't get bottom shelf. Something like an everyday vodka is fine. I like Luksusowa
1/2 an English cucumber, peeled and finely blitzed
1 tps juniper berries, slightly crushed
1 Tbsp rose petal
1/8 tsp rosemary
1/8 spearmint or a couple sprigs if fresh
1 large bay leaf, preferably fresh
1 cardamom pod, seeds only
1/4 tsp pink peppercorns
3 whole black peppercorns
0.15 g lavender flowers
1 lemon zest, or 2 good strips, no white pith, diced
1 orange zest, or 2 good strips, no white pith, diced
Step 2: Combine Your Botanicals and Herbs
You may have noticed in the last step that what I have pictured and what I listed are different.
I wanted a slightly more floral-ness to the DIY gin and so I added the chamomile, dandelion, and red clover
I also wanted more botanical-ness from the elder, hawthorne.
Lastly, I wanted the Chinese five flavor berry - schisandra
This last one I read about from Liquid Intelligence by Dave Arnold (great cocktail book for those who geek out about this kind of stuff! I highly Highly recommend it). It is bitter, sweet, salty, sour and aromatic. The Chinese love it for making teas and tonics to help rejuvenate the skin to provide a more youthful appearance, a sexual tonic and to cleanse the blood. You can find it online or health food stores. People are now deeming it a "super food" so it may be easier to find then you think.
Anyhoo, blitz your peeled cucumber and combine in a bottle all the other ingredients and the vodka.
Step 3: Mix and Wait
You want to leave your concoction in the basement or a closet where it is cool and dark for at least 12 hours. I went with 14. You're looking mainly for color. It will likely be a yellowish orange and that is as far as you want it to go. You do not want it to go brown. That means the cucumber solids are getting too overworked and need to be strained.
Step 4: Filter and Bottle
I went in succession to strain my gin: wire mesh strainer, strainer with a wet piece of cheese cloth, coffee/chemex filter.
The idea here is to get finer and finer with each strain, esp. if you use a fine coffee filter. Get the big stuff out first and then go finer to minimize clogging (because that is annoying and takes more time). Also, the reason you want to wet the cheesecloth if you use it, is it saturates the cloth, therefore, you will lower the chance of losing sweet sweet booze by being absorbed in the dry cloth.
You can see from the first two pics that the amount of solids strained can be visibly seen. Also, it helps the mouth feel of the finished product.
I enjoyed making this and tinkering with the ingredients. I hope you try it out and tinker with the botanicals yourself. Plus, it saves a little bit of money and with the amount of gin I go through, it helps the wallet :D
Step 5: What to Do, What to Do?
Finally, I thought I'd share a quick recipe to get you started. I like to make this especially in the summer since it is light and refreshing:
2 oz homemade gin
3/4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
0.5 oz elderflower liquor, like St. Germain
club soda to top
Mix first three ingredients in a shaker with ice. Pour into a glass and top with club soda. Garnish with a lemon wheel