I made brief reference to it before, but in my downtime of not being able to write and slap you in your chuckle-butt*, I wasn’t just doing nothing. I had a Secret Booze Project. It was secret because it was a Christmas gift for someone, so I couldn’t just reveal it and spoil the surprise. I know that if nothing else, the people I know read this silly blog, so there was no way I could chance it. But Christmas has now passed, and I can reveal my boozy secret.
The gift was for my mom, and it was to make our own gin. She likes gin, specifically in martinis, so that would naturally be something she would like. I first purchased a bottle of Junipero online, because she’d mentioned interest in it after looking through my copy of Scott Beattie’s stunning book Artisanal Cocktails**, but then I found a recipe on how to make homemade gin by infusing vodka with some relatively common herbs and spices, so it seemed like a great gift. I was going to make it myself ahead of time and just give it to her, but my dad brilliantly reminded me that my mom actually likes making things, and making it together would be fun. So we did.
I found the recipe here on gourmet.com, I don’t remember who linked me to it, but it seemed easy enough and only took about 24 hours. It’s not a true distilled gin, but rather an infusion starting with vodka, but whatever, it’s basically gin. If you didn’t know that gin was just flavored vodka, sorry I just blew your mind but it’s the truth. Anyway, being that holiday time is chock-full of spare time, it was the perfect opportunity to make this happen. I’d already gathered all the ingredients, most were relatively easy to find, several I had to head over to Fresh Market to find. If you decide to do this yourself and have trouble finding everything except one or two things, don’t sweat it. The one you HAVE to have is juniper berries, the other bits and how much of them you use is something you can tinker with if you like to make it however you want it. Oh, and you have to have vodka. Duh.
So the first step is to let the juniper berries soak overnight. Done. Easy. In the morning, we put all the other garbage in there with the juniper berries and let it rest for 8-9 hours.
If it looks a little yellowish-brownish to you, that’s because it is. The recipe calls for allspice, which is ground up and tints the vodka. Also, I now hate it. If I had to do it again, I’d definitely omit the allspice, because it is a son-of-a-bitch to strain out. It took numerous passes through a wine strainer, cheese cloth, and finally coffee filters to get it all out of there. I will also pass along this recommendation: don’t forget that what goes into the bottle has to somehow be able to get out…like lemon peels. I was a dummy who used full-sized peels and didn’t think to maybe trim them down so they’d be easier to get out, so I got to spend 15 minutes fishing a stupid piece of lemon peel out of the bottles like an total a-hole. My suffering is your gain.
The gin, still full of damn allspice, the straining tools and strained ingredients
So how’d it turn out? I’m no Gin Professor but…not bad, I’d say. Because the allspice stayed in there so much longer than the rest of the stuff (we had to let it settle overnight to help the straining process) it definitely sticks out in the flavor profile. As I said, if I did this again, I would not use it at all, I really don’t think it would be missed. I haven’t really spent enough time with it yet, but it bore some faint resemblance to the bottle of Citadelle Reserve gin I received recently. Only way more rustic and allspice-y.
If you’re a gin drinker, I recommend you give something like this a shot. The ability to tweak the infusion to make a gin to be pretty much whatever you want it to be is pretty cool, and compared to some other DIY booze projects, this one has a fairly short turn-around time.
And wouldn’t ya know it, one of the gifts my mom gave me was some home-made Kahlua coffee liqueur (I got 99 problems but copyright issues ain’t one) she made from my grandmother’s recipe. How great is that!?! The family that makes homemade booze together stays together!
If this seems a little familiar, you may have read SeanMike’s adventures of making his own for fellow scofflaw Marshall (using the same recipe) over at the Scofflaw’s Den. He beat me to it. So what.
*Other versions of this I considered were “tweak your funny-nipple”, “poke your laughter eye”, and “rub you down with giggle oil”…all of which make me Guffaw Out Loud
**Seriously, PRETTIEST DRINKS ALIVE
It’s funny – reading your lamentation about allspice made me laugh out loud because I ran into a similar problem earlier this year with a recipe. Turns out, you can get non-ground allspice…looks like little peppercorns or cloves without the tails. Who knew? Guess it pays to watch those food channels. Good luck with your next batch.
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