Turn your favourite gin into something extra special

Creating your own botanical blend is fun and tasty.

Turn your favourite gin into something extra special

While it’s easy to count down to Gin O’clock, pour your favourite G & T and savour the refreshing burst of botanicals – how about creating your own gin fusion and bringing other flavours to the fore?

While it may be best to leave the ins and outs of gin making itself to the experts, there’s no reason why you can’t tinker around with the floral notes of lavender and baskets of fresh, seasonal fruit to gussy up your gin.

To begin our gin journey, you’ll need a bottle of gin. Get the best gin you can afford for your homemade infused liqueurs. Cheap gin will give you cheap-tasting infused gin. That doesn’t mean you have to pay top dollar, do a little research to see what’s good in your price range. Like wine you plan to cook with, get something that you will enjoy drinking on its own and doesn’t taste like rubbish.

Go for something like a bottle of quality, London-dry style gin that’s not too complicated, so you can be the master distiller and shape the flavour profile – think citrus, herbal, spicy and floral.

And the great news is, apart from slicing, dicing and steeping in caster sugar (depending on the recipe), the only other item you need for your gin kit is a large jar or sealable bottle that’s washed, sterilised and dried.

Rhubarb and ginger gin
What you'll need:

  • 800g rhubarb stalks
  • 1 litre (4 cups) good quality gin
  • 300g white sugar
  • 200g fresh ginger (optional)

Method

  1. Chop up the rhubarb stalks into 5cm pieces.
  2. Place the rhubarb, gin, sugar (and ginger if using) in a large, sterilised jar and give it a good stir.
  3. Cover and place the jar in a dark place (such as a kitchen cupboard). Stir every other day for four weeks.
  4. Strain through a fine sieve, or with muslin cloth if you want the smoothest mix possible.

The longer the steeping, the stronger the flavour and colour – three to four weeks is ideal. But if you know you won't be able to wait that long, you can speed up the process by roasting the rhubarb on a baking tray for 30 minutes to draw out its sweet flavours. Follow steps two and three above and the gin will be ready in five days.

If fresh rhubarb isn't available, frozen can be used. And don't throw it away after straining, it's delicious on ice cream, or why not whip up a boozy rhubarb crumble?

2. Raspberry gin
This is very similar to the rhubarb gin with a few extra flavours thrown in.

Ingredients

  • 1 litre (4 cups) good quality gin
  • 400g fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 300g white sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, split in half
  • 1/2 a lemon, sliced in rings

Method

  1. Place everything into a large, sterilised jar, and give it a good stir.
  2. Cover and place the jar in a dark place (such as a kitchen cupboard). Stir every other day for four weeks.
  3. Strain through a fine sieve, or with muslin cloth if you want the smoothest mix possible.

White sugar works well in fruity infused liqueurs. If you are making a spiced liqueur, then brown sugar may be best to bring out those toffee and caramel notes. If you like your alcohol a little sweeter, feel free to add more sugar, just taste as you go along. You can add more sugar right up until the end of proofing, just be sure to stir to dissolve it, and strain when you want to drink.

3. Orange and cardamom gin
There’s more to oranges than marmalade.

Ingredients

  • 1 litre (4 cups) good quality gin
  • 5 oranges
  • 8 green cardamom pods

Method

  1. Cut each orange in half, and then slice each half into half-moons about 4mm thick. Place them in a large, sterilised jar and add the cardamom pods.
  2. Pour the gin into the jar – you may end up with enough of a tot left in the bottle to reward you for your slicing labours. Leave for four weeks in a kitchen cupboard, stirring occasionally.
  3. Strain through a fine sieve, or with muslin cloth if you want the smoothest mix possible.
  4. Enjoy with tonic, or ginger ale, and plenty of ice.

Homemade citrus gin makes pretty much any gin drink more special. Mix it up into a fancy cocktail or serve it over ice with a splash of soda. Star anise would also work well in place of the cardamom, if you prefer.

4. Lavender gin
Thanks to the availability of dried lavender flowers, armchair travellers don’t need to stroll among lavender hills to drink in a Provençal lifestyle – simply infuse your gin with scented lavender and it can be yours within two to four days.

Ingredients

  • 500ml (2 cups) good quality gin
  • 3 sprigs lavender, washed

Method

  1. Pour gin into a sterilised, sealable jar or bottle and add the fresh lavender. Seal and leave at room temperature for 2–4 days depending on how strong you would like the lavender flavour.
  2. Strain the bottle contents, discarding the lavender. Enjoy the infused gin with the pairings of your choice.

This infused gin will definitely take your standard G & T up a notch. If you want to infuse a larger batch of gin, add a few more sprigs of lavender.

5. Cucumber gin
Deliciously refreshing. Take five minutes to infuse your gin with cucumbers (peeled, sliced, diced and deseeded), and within a week you’ll be rewarded with the cool, fresh scent and taste of cucumber-infused gin.

Ingredients

  • 1 litre (4 cups) good quality gin
  • 3 English cucumbers (the long, thinner ones), peeled, washed and thinly sliced

Method

  1. Combine gin and cucumbers in a glass jar. Cover, and let steep at room temperature for at least two days (or up to one week). Strain, discarding cucumbers.

It's better to peel your cucumbers to avoid the gin becoming too bitter.

6. Kiwi gin
Kiwi gin is citrusy and refreshing. Maybe one for those summer barbecues.

Ingredients

  • 500ml (2 cups) good quality gin
  • 3 kiwi fruits, peeled and cut into chunks

Method

  1. Combine the kiwi fruit and gin in a sterilised jar and give it a good shake. Place in the fridge for 3–5 days, shaking daily.
  2. Strain through a fine sieve, or with muslin cloth if you want the smoothest mix possible.
  3. Store in the fridge.

When the kiwi fruit is noticeably less vibrant, it's a good indication that your gin is ready!

Have you ever made your own infused alcohol? Which recipe are you going to try first?

– With PA

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