It’s World Gin Day today (13th June), but in my house, it’s Gin Day every day. I’ve been making my own flavoured gins for some years now, long before flavoured ones became the “in” drink with everyone and the many specialist and small/micro-gin companies proliferated. It wasn’t that long ago when the only flavoured gin one could find was sloe gin. Now the flavours and concoctions know no bounds. But they frequently come with a high price tag. All the more reason to make your own. I don’t distil my own gin – I cheat. I buy plain gin, one I enjoy drinking of course, and then add my own fruit.
At this time of year, strawberries are in their prime and perfect for making strawberry gin. If the fruit is ripe and tasty there isn’t even need to add sugar as many recipes dictate. Later in the year, wild brambles make the most delicious gin. In truth, anything works, all one needs is a little imagination and patience to let it mature. Ideally, for as long as possible. Gin I make in September is meant to be for Christmas but, well, it doesn’t normally last that long. Frozen fruits and berries are ideal too for using. There isn’t even need to thaw the fruit first. So what could be simpler?
So, what to do. There are several methods and, like most of my recipes, there are no precise quantities. Use what you have.
This method is ideal if you do not have a lot of fruit, or are experimenting with flavours. Choose your gin. If experimenting, I would suggest using a 70ml bottle of gin to start with. Pour yourself out a good measure to enjoy now whilst adding as much fruit as you can into the bottle. Or pour out all the gin from the bottle, put your fruit into the empty bottle (you may have cut/slice fruit to fit in. Pour gin back in, screw the cap back on. Shake the bottle then leave it in a cool, preferably dark place (ie the drinks cabinet) for as long as you can but a minimum of 3 weeks. No straining or decanting necessary – pour straight from the bottle and add mixer and trimmings of your choice.
I have a small black elderflower tree in my garden which is currently full of flower. Once the berries are ripe I shall be trying them in a recipe but understand the berries from my tree (Blace Lace) need to be cooked first so will be making a syrup to add to the gin.
An Even Easier Method
Take one bottle of plain gin, any size, and add Ribena to taste, or any of the fruit syrup available nowadays. Instant pleasure guaranteed.
Less Easy Method
This way is a little more involved but certainly not hard.
Put your fruit of choice into a clean kilner type jar (or a jam jar with screw top lid). Depending on quantity of gin you have, you’ll need at least 3-4 good handfuls to each litre of gin; 2-3 for 70ml.
Fill jar with your base gin of choice. I use Aldi’s Napolean gin, or Lidl’s Frinton – both are excellent. Note: Don’t throw the gin bottle/s away – you will need it for later! Seal jar and leave for a minimum 3 weeks then it’s ready to drink but improves the longer it is left. Shake the jar daily for the first week.
When ready to decant, pour gin through a fine sieve to remove the steeped fruit. This fruit can be eaten if you so wish, or added to ice cream – but I find it is too sharp. Mine goes into the garden compost bin. Pour strained gin back into the bottle. If you find the flavour is too intense for drinking, you can add more neat plain gin. Then serve with the mixer of your choice.
I keep my gin in the refrigerator purely because I don’t use ice cubes in drinks. I also keep sliced lemon and limes in the freezer and add these to my glass.
So experiment, try new flavours, new mixes, different plain gins. It’s fun, and it’s certainly a lot less expensive than most of the premade flavours you find on the supermarket shelves.
Try rhubarb and ginger. Mint and apple. Toffee. Toffee Apple. Lemon. Mixed berries (frozen fruit perfect for this). Cherry. Elderflower. The combinations are endless. There are plenty of recipes out there on the web, most fiddley and too complicated. My mantra is make is simple. And enjoy.
Happy Gin Day!