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World Gin Day: Lemongrass-Ginger and Cucumber-Lime Gin Infusions

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Logo from World Gin Day (worldginday.com)
Logo from World Gin Day (worldginday.com)

Not to turn my back on bourbon, which many know is a favorite spirit of mine, but the Gin and Tonic is one of my absolute favorite drinks. For World Gin Day, I’m excited to share recipes for two gin infusions that are perfect choices to use in my favorite cocktail.

I tend to stick with other herbs and spices or citrus when I infuse gin because it’s already herbal to begin with; it’s not neutral and open to most ingredients, like its cousin vodka. In this case, cucumber-lime and lemongrass-ginger are two flavor pairings that really work well and I enjoy drinking in a Gin and Tonic.

First, you’ll need to find a good tonic water. As easy as they are to find in grocery and convenience stores, tonic made by big soda manufacturers are not what I’ve come to enjoy in my drinks. I like Q’s line of gourmet sodas  and Fever Tree about the best. You’ll find tonic water, ginger beer, and club soda among other varieties from these brands in 4-pack single-serving bottles. Both run about $4.99 each at Wegmans and other grocery stores. Q also makes larger bottles, although I prefer the smaller sizes, which are good for making one or two drinks at a time without going flat.

I’ve also been told by my bartender friend, Stefanie, that there’s yet another alternative out there: tonic concentrate. You just add it to club soda or seltzer water and proceed with making your drink. I’ve yet to try it, though, and haven’t seen it in any stores; she said she bought it on Amazon.

Next, you’ll need a quart-sized mason jar with a lid and some gin to put in it. Some gins are more herbal or uniquely-flavored than others. Use what you like that’s about middle-of-the-road (i.e., nothing super top-shelf that would cost you $40-50 a bottle) with a relatively neutral flavor. I wouldn’t recommend something like Tanqueray, which I love but has a good, pine-like flavor and can be on the more expensive side to justify using in this application. I generally go with New Amsterdam. It’s good quality and doesn’t have as distinctive of a flavor that would interfere with other ingredients. I find that it’s almost-always on sale at my local PA state liquor store for about $20 for a 1.5 liter bottle, too. Works for me.

After combining the ingredients, let sit a week and you should have a good infusion. At that point, strain the gin through a small, fine-mesh strainer or cheese cloth. Pour the gin back into the jar, cover, and label the jar. Store in the refrigerator and serve ice cold on the rocks or mixed in a cocktail, like a Gin and Tonic.

Lemongrass-Ginger Infused Gin

Makes 1 quart of gin

Ingredients

2 stalks lemon grass
A 1″ piece of ginger, peeled
32 oz from a bottle of good gin (recommended: New Amsterdam)

Method

Crush or coarsely chop the lemongrass and ginger and add to a 1 quart mason jar. Add gin to fill the jar, leaving about 1″ of room of space to put the lid on without spilling. Cover the jar and shake or swirl to mix ingredients. Set the jar in a cool, dry place for about a week, swirling or shaking the jar about once a day.

Cucumber-Lime Infused Gin

Makes 1 quart of gin

Ingredients

1 small cucumber, cut into rounds
1 lime
32 oz from a bottle of good gin (recommended: New Amsterdam)

Method

Using a vegetable peeler or Y-peeler, remove the green skin from the lime, being sure to leave the bitter white pith behind. Add to the jar with the cucumber slices. Add gin to fill the jar, leaving about 1″ of room of space to put the lid on without spilling. Cover the jar and shake or swirl to mix ingredients. Set the jar in a cool, dry place for about a week, swirling or shaking the jar about once a day.

Gin and Tonic

Really… it couldn’t be easier.

Fill a chilled Collins glass with ice and add 2 oz infused gin and the juice of 1-2 lime wedges. Top with 4 oz good-quality tonic water. Stir to combine. Add some orange bitters, if desired (I like the taste it adds.) Serve garnished with an additional lime wedge and a stick of cucumber or lemongrass (depending on which gin you used.)