Handmade gin is as simple as choosing botanicals to steep in a neutral spirit! Let your creativity with flavor flow and trust in a bit of alchemy to transform vodka to a personalized elixir.
For much of my adult life, gin & tonics were my cocktail of choice, something I inherited from my father. My wedding even had a mead gin & tonic signature drink! When I saw Colleen of Grow Forage Cook Ferment post her version of Emily Han's recipe, I was intrigued to make my own. Turns out I own Emily's book Wild Drinks and Cocktails. Does that happen to you? You collect so many books you forget ones you've bought? Me too!
Medicinally speaking, I have worked very little with Juniper. However, it is a special plant to me. Prior to becoming pregnant, I had a dream telling me to name my baby Juniper. I woke up contemplating why that voice was so pointed and specific. Where had it come from? As I mentioned, I didn't use the plant in my home apothecary. At that time, I wasn't even sure if I would have a child!
Fast forward 9 months and I found myself on a Wisconsin ridge top hike while four months pregnant. A Juniper bush greeted us at our lookout destination. I hadn't yet climbed these ridges near our new, adoptive home so it was a beautiful experience with a group of friends that felt like family.
Preparing for becoming a mother, I read into the plant and name correspondences of this potential baby name. Youth, evergreen, integrity, protection and love. What a sweet feeling this shrub imbues. The Hopi tribe believes the spirit caretaker of the Earth travels in Juniper. I ended up choosing a different name for my baby but Juniper still holds a place in my spiritual heart and perhaps the significance of my dream hasn't played out just yet.
I was excited to work with Juniper as an Evergreen contribution to Plant Wonder Collective's December plant of the month. I slipped down the rabbit hole of learning to create gin at home and I came across an article stating every gin has Juniper (and likely coriander and citrus), but the rest of the botanical flavor profile offers an opportunity to showcase a sense of place. This is where my inspiration took hold...
This summer I came across Juniper for the first time since that sky high encounter. Finding it on the first night of our beach vacation - my first time to the ocean in a few years and at a time when I was trying to reacclimate to living back to New England - felt like a homecoming. Another pivotal moment in my life where Juniper has shown up.
My gin recipe is an ode to the shores of Rhode Island, where a piece of my soul always resides. I spent the week chasing spots to forage Rosa Rugosa, with St. John's Wort, Yarrow and Elderflower presenting themselves as well.
All are summer solstice plants that give us a glimpse of the sun, whose return we will soon celebrate at the winter solstice. If you yearn for those high summer days, this recipe is for you.
Gin is traditionally distilled with botanicals providing a clear beverage. Here we are steeping vodka to extract the flavor much like a tincture. Unlike purchased gin, you will experience varying degrees of color based on the herbs you choose and the medicinal qualities will be light as this isn't a long steep.
M A K E
1-2 tsp Juniper
1-2 tsp Rose
2 tsp Elderflower
1 tsp St. John's Wort
1/2 tsp Yarrow
1/2 tsp Coriander
1/4 tsp Orange Zest
1/4 tsp Lemon Zest
4 oz Vodka
4 oz Canning Jar
Add all herbs to the jar and cover with vodka.
Steep for two days.
Strain and rebottle.
N O T E S
-I gave ranges for Juniper and Rose as it depends on which flavor you would like to be most prevalent.
-In one batch I added 1 strawberry and 1/4 tsp fennel seeds for a stronger summer feel. I loved he addition of the fruit flavor though it does dominate.
-Length of steeping can be shorter or longer based on your taste preference.
-Cardamom is another herb I was tempted to experiment with.
R E S O U R C E S