Okay, so maaaaybe we're stretching it by calling gin a "fresh ingredient." This post lies somewhere between a craft and a cocktail...so we'll split the difference and call it a recipe. But the gin IS fresh, because you're making it from scratch, so to speak (who knew that playing bootlegger could be so fun and doable?!) It's a fitting project for this week, because Repeal Day, the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, is December 5th- tomorrow. Plus now is the perfect time to start on simple homemade projects to give as personal gifts this holiday season. Add a cute tag and you have yourself a unique, affordable, festive present for anyone who enjoys a gin and tonic now and again (and who doesn't enjoy a gin and tonic now and again?). It's great for last-minute gifting, too...if you start it now, your gin will be ready for sipping by tomorrow evening.
The nice thing about this gin, as opposed to the stuff you might have gotten for Christmas in 1932, say, is that you're not actually distilling the alcohol in your bathtub. This gin starts out as...wait for it...vodka! As it turns out, the thing that makes gin gin is the presence of juniper berries. It's a juniper-flavored spirit, made by adding flavors (which must be predominately juniper) to a neutral spirit- in this case, a cheap bottle of vodka, much more affordable than a decent bottle of gin. And according to Ian Knauer, who published this in Gourmet Magazine, the complexity of this recipe "rivals the finest gin on the market." That makes this a project worth trying- you can buy a $10 bottle of vodka and give someone a $40 bottle of gin!
Homemade Gin (from Gourmet)
- 1 (750-ml) bottle of inexpensive vodka
- 2 Tbsp juniper berries
- 3/4 tsp coriander seed
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp fennel seed
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 2 black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf, torn into pieces
- 1 (3-inch) sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 (2-inch-long) fresh lemon or lime peel
- 1 (1-inch-long) sprig fresh lavender*
Infuse juniper in the vodka overnight. Add remaining spices and herbs in the morning and let infuse all day. When you get home from work, strain out the botanicals. The gin is ready for imbibing right away...or you can package the bottle up as a delicious homemade gift.
Happy crafting / cheers!
(all photos, jamie grill photography)