With all that grows in your garden. For real
Happy World Gin Day 2016, lovely people.
We know what you're thinking. Every Friday is devoted to the love of everyone's favourite juniper-laced, crystal clear spirit, no? Well, yes. But today is an actually organised celebration of all things botanical. Which we're very much in favour of.
But rather than raising a glass filled with tonic, ice and maybe a slice of grapefruit alongside your G, why not try something a little more fancy? A little more adventurous? A little more homespun? We're talking infusions. And not just any old infusion. Infusions created using ingredients picked from your very own back garden.
Here’s how to create your very own gin garden.
The plants to try
The first question: what to grow? Let's start with the obvious choices first. Gin is a great partner with citrus, so lemon or lime trees are a great shout. Then, of course, there’s juniper, the traditional botanical used in gin. But why play it safe?
For Gin Week earlier this year, Rabbit launched a wild-gin-based cocktail list. The stand-out sippings? Gin infused with lavender and tayberry. Christopher Hudson, a student of horticulture at Kew Gardens, also recommends jasmine as a great choice to start with, as it grows fantastically well in British conditions and even has some species that'll grow all year round.
Hudson also says borage – a herb with a "nice cucumber taste” – is another great plant to use to infuse your gin with. “It grows in abundance and is very commonly found in an English garden,” he says. “You don’t need to care for it, it’s tough and the nice blue flowers floating in the drink will make it look pretty.” Bonus.
But there's plenty more garden-friendly plants to try. Nettle can easily be found in the UK and adds a refreshing flavour to your gin; the root of yarrow (also known as angelique) imparts a bitter sweet flavour; pineapple sage or pineapple weed will add a strong aromatic – you guessed it – pineapple flavour; and nasturtiums, with their bright orange flowers, give a peppery kick.
How to mix your drink
Once you’ve picked your flowers and herbs, it’s time to infuse that gin! Gas canisters, dehydration and home-distilling kits are all possible – if a little scary and off-putting – but the Gladwin brothers suggest keeping it simple with the easy-to-grasp syrup recipe:
- Measure out an equal volume of sugar to water.
- Cook this with a large handful of the plant and stir it constantly.
- The syrup is ready when the solution is elastic and does not break away from the end of the spoon for more than an inch.
- Add to your G&T for a garden-based homemade cocktail.
Alternatively, you can infuse your gin, as long as you’re willing to fork out a few quid. All you need to make your own flavoured gin is an infuser or professional cream whipper (including gas canisters, it will set you back about £50). They’re easy to use as well. Just make sure you read the manual beforehand because this does involve handling nitrous oxide gas.
When it comes to serving, remember your garden can add something a little extra in the garnish department as well. There’s also one last trick you can deploy: get your leaves and clap them between your hands as this releases their oils and fragrance.
Now all that’s left to do is sit back and enjoy. Chin chin.