I love gin.
If vodka is the backbone to any mixologist’s wet bar, then gin (in my opinion) is the heart. After all, the spirit that the Dutch innovated and the English popularized, is the foundation for a host of classic cocktails (beyond the ubiquitous Gin & Tonic) including: the Tom Collins, Negroni, Gimlet, (a personal fave) the Pimm’s Cup, and of course the classic Martini.
But did you know that you can make this spirit at home? Without a still?
By definition, gin is merely a juniper-flavoured spirit, made by way of adding natural flavouring substances to a neutral alcohol of agricultural origin. The only catch is that juniper must be the dominant flavour. For those of you who have heard that gin is basically just juniper-infused vodka, this is where that comes from. Now of course, this doesn’t mean that you’re going to get the same, smooth, easy-drinking gin that distilleries provide—there’s a reason why the distilled variety is the one liquor stores stock on their shelves. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun creating your own infusions and fun takes on the popular beverage. If you’re not sure where to start, there are several kits available online, that can steer you in the right direction. That’s where I began and where this series, titled The Bathtub Gin Club, will start with: The Homemade Gin Kit.
The idea to make my own gin had been bubbling in my head for awhile, when H gifted me the kit for Xmas. Now, I had no excuse. The kit comes with two 375ml glass bottles, a fine stainless steel strainer, a stainless steel funnel, one tin of juniper berries, and a tin of the company’s “secret” botanical blend. The ingredients to the blend are listed on the tin, just not their exact amounts. The only other thing that’s needed to make the gin, is a bottle of vodka. The kit mentions that it isn’t important what brand you acquire, meaning bottom shelf vodka will do just fine. For my first run, I went with Banff Ice Vodka.
I logged the “recipe” in a notebook, along with tasting notes. Below is a recap of how this gin faired and will be the standard format for future Bathtub Gin Club posts.
GIN #001: STANDARD
- 750ml Banff Ice Vodka
- Juniper Berries from kit
- Botanical Blend from kit:
-Tellicherry Black Pepper
Add juniper berries to vodka and store for 24 hours. After 24 hours, add botanicals and store for an additional 12 hours. After, strain contents of bottle, serve as desired.
Appearance: Golden brown, prominent sediment.
Nose: allspice, citrus, heavy ethanol.
Neat: very hot, aggressive allspice and pepper; vodka is still very present.
Chilled: more pleasant to consume, but noteworthy changes.
Gin & Tonic: heat is drastically cut, citrus is more prominent and the spice and pepper is a welcome addition to the classic cocktail.
Gin & Juice: spice is too aggressive and does not pair well with juice. Heat is very prominent; tastes more like a Screwdriver.
Martini (with Odd Society’s Bittersweet Vermouth): Not an ideal pairing. The vermouth is too complex for the onenote gin. This cocktails ends up being all heat and no refinement.
This was a fun first experiment, but future batches will require some major tweaks. First, the quality of vodka. While it won’t be necessary to purchase a top shelf spirit, I will definitely need to find a better quality vodka, with less heat to it. The botanicals will also need some adjusting. The kit featured some very heavy handed spices that overwhelmed the other components of the blend. The next batch will be a personal blend and will feature fewer ingredients. Overall, this gin works okay for a Gin & Tonic, but it lacks versatility and is unpalatable otherwise.
Stay tuned for the next Bathtub Gin Club adventure and please feel free to share your own creations!
À Votre Santé!