I made gin! Well, sort of. I infused vodka in the hopes of making gin. I used the recipe I found at Newcity Restro by way of Cinnamon. I think this recipe was originally from the book The Modern Mixologist by Tony Abou-Ganim. I made a few changes based on what I suspected would be orange zest heavy and, well, it still turned out orange zest heavy. (One should note, however, that I seem to be unusually sensitive to the presence of orange zest. I don’t know why, but I find it utterly overwhelms everything it comes in contact with, ruing many a nice pastry, cranberry relish, or chocolate for me.)
The infused recipe calls for running some vodka through a Brita filter a few times. I just happened to have an unused Brita pitcher around (courtesy of last year’s BlogHer Food swag bag) so I did that, though I suspect the step could be skipped.
I took a quick side trip to World Spice down by Pike Place Market where you can buy by the ounce and procured the list of spices (listed below). World Spice, by the way, is awfully fun. They have samples of one ounce examples (surprisingly helpful!) of each offering that you can sniff and examine as you shop, and you write you order on a little clipboard. They also offer a breathtaking number of mixes and rubs and salts.
The recipe has you put juniper berries in first for a 12-hour soak. We were curious and each ate a dried juniper berry. I found it to be very much like men’s cologne, which Scott summed up nicely by declaring it was like chewing on Grey Flannel. Most people declare Christmas tree, we are here to say cologne.
After 12 hours you add more botanicals and let soak for another 12 hours. Here is a before and after:
- Run a 1.75 L bottle of Smirnoff vodka through a water filter like a Brita about three times if you happen to have one. Or skip this step, it likely won’t make a difference.
- Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of juniper berries. Let sit for 12 hours.
- 1/8 tsp fennel seed
- four black peppercorns
- 1/4 tsp allspice berries
- 3/4 tsp coriander seeds
- 1/8 tsp grains of paradise (I added these, you might want to skip)
- 3/4 tsp fresh orange zest (original calls for 1 tsp)
- 3/4 tsp lemon zest (original calls for 1/2 tsp)
- one sprig rosemary
- Let sit for another 12 hours.
- Strain through a a fine mesh, and if you can manage, back into it’s bottle.
It came out smelling vegetal, and while Scott reports that it tastes nice I still find it the orange zest a bit strong, adding a too-sweet note. I don’t dislike it, but I prefer my gin clean and crisp and, yes, pine-y. I realize that this might not be possible to create by infusing spirits. Still, the experiment fun and I might try it again. But first we’ll have to have a cocktail party or two to use this up. Punch anybody?
First let me just say that due to arcane liquor laws in the state of Washington a 1.75 liter bottle of Smirnoff is closer to $30 than $17. I wish I’d halved the recipe as this turned out to be an expensive experiment, and should you live in an area with similar conditions I encourage you to do so.
The final mixture was colored a ginger ale yellow. Not ugly, but not the crystal clear-to-blueish gin I’m used to. I’m sure this had an effect on my perception.
Of all the dried botanicals added the grains of paradise were the only ones that didn’t float. Perhaps it was a bad addition on my part but it is listed as one of the things that goes into Bombay Sapphire. This Wikipedia article on gin doesn’t mention it. Should I try this again I’ll leave those out.
So far my diligent research tells me that this gin in better served with a slice of cucumber than an olive. I will perform more diligent research in subsequent evenings where I don’t require sobriety.
Should I try it again I’ll leave out orange zest altogether, and probably only use half a sprig or rosemary. I will leave out the grains of paradise as well, for the sake of research.
There are, of course, a lot of recipes for infusing your own gin that you can find with a simple Google search. It’ll take a while to test them all but we’re up for it. I think next will be this one from Gourmet magazine.
update: I did indeed try the Gourmet recipe and liked it a lot better, go see try #2 here.