What better way to warm up the hard-working gardener on a cold day than a drop of something rather special: a delicious flavored gin!
Flavored gins make excellent gifts for the festive season, or any occasion for that matter. So let’s take a look at what goes into a great flavored gin before trying our hand at making two decadent treats: a sweet and juicy strawberry gin, and a warming, spicy cinnamon bun gin.
Flavored Gin Ingredients
Choose your favorite flavors from the garden to infuse into your gin. Try fruits such as strawberries or blueberries, herbs like lavender, mint or rosemary, and even vegetables such as celery, rhubarb or, for a bit of a kick, chili peppers. Seasonal hedgerow fruits are always a winner – nothing beats the rich depth of a sensational sloe gin, made with blackthorn berries.
Any gin that isn’t already flavored will do, but a classic, strong gin - something with a simple, clean flavor like a London dry gin - works best.
How to Make Your Flavored Gin
Start with thoroughly clean and sterile mason or Kilner jars, or large, sealable bottles. Cleanliness is essential – you don’t want your spirit going bad.
The more of your flavoring ingredients you add, the stronger the final taste. Generally, about a half to one pound of fruit (200-400g) is recommended for every liter of spirit.
How long you leave the ingredients to infuse for depends on how strongly flavored they are. Chili peppers and citrus, for example, may be left for just 24 hours – or even less - while spices might be kept in there for up to a week or two. Most berries need a month, while the mildest flavors, including the classic sloe gin, is at its very best after several months of steeping.
What better gin to start with than a sweet, aromatic strawberry gin. It’s got just three ingredients: a standard 700ml bottle of gin, 14 ounces (400g) of strawberries, plus three-and-a-half ounces (100g) of caster sugar.
Start by removing the ends from the strawberries before cutting them all in half. Pop them into a large, sterilized mason jar then add your sugar. Give the whole lot a good shake about then place the jar into the refrigerator overnight so all those strawberry juices start to ooze out.
The next day, top up with your gin, give it all a stir and then place back into the refrigerator. Stir or shake once a day for three weeks. The gin will take on a beautiful pink color at which point it can be strained through coffee filter paper, cheesecloth or muslin and decanted into bottles. Your gin should keep for up to a year.
A simple variation is a raspberry gin made the same way using 12 ounces (350g) of raspberries and five ounces (150g) of sugar.
Cinnamon Bun Gin
This simple spiced gin conjures up all the moreish deliciousness of that classic Scandi treat, the cinnamon bun. It’s ready to enjoy in as little as a week, making this super-quick gin the perfect solution for last-minute Christmas gifts.
Into a large mason jar or other sterilized, lidded container go two cinnamon sticks, broken up, and 10 cardamon pods, which have been gently crushed to release their flavor. Now add one teaspoon of vanilla essence and five ounces (150g) of caster sugar. Finally, in goes a 700ml bottle of gin.
Give it all a thorough stir or swirl to help along all those flavors along then store in a cool, dark place. Swirl every day for at least a week, but preferably two, then strain and bottle. This gin should keep for around six months.
Serve it neat, on the rocks or, if you’re pacing yourself, perhaps with a little sparkling water, tonic water or a lovely sparkling apple juice. And, do you know what, a slice of moist apple cake – made with apples from the garden of course! – is the perfect accompaniment. Cheers all!
Flavored gins certainly make for imaginative gifts. But hey, just be sure to put a bottle or two aside for yourself too – you deserve it!
Have you made flavored spirits? And, if you have, what are your favorite ingredients? Please share the love down below and let’s get the party started!