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

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. 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. What do I mean by this? Some gins are more herbal or uniquely-flavored than others. I wouldn’t recommend something like Tanqueray, which already has a good 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 but doesn’t have as distinctive of a flavor that would interfere or clash with other ingredients, and it’s almost-always on sale at my local PA state liquor store for about $20 for a 1.5 liter bottle. Works for me.

Lemongrass-Ginger Infused Gin

Makes 1 quart of gin and 16 drinks (for a 2oz pour of gin in each drink.)

Ingredients

2 stalks lemon grass
A 1″ piece of ginger, peeled
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.

After a week, you should have a good infusion. Strain the gin through a small, fine-mesh strainer or a piece of cheese cloth. Put the gin back into the jar, and 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.

Cucumber-Lime Infused Gin

Makes 1 quart of gin and 16 drinks (for a 2oz pour of gin in each drink.)

Ingredients

1 small cucumber, cut into rounds
1 lime
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.

After a week, you should have a good infusion. Strain the gin through a small, fine-mesh strainer or a piece of cheese cloth. Put the gin back into the jar, and 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.

How To Make a Gin and Tonic

Answer: it couldn’t be easier.

Fill a chilled Collins glass with ice and add 2oz infused gin and the juice of 1-2 lime wedges. Top with 4oz good-quality tonic water. Stir to combine.

Serve garnished with an additional lime wedge and a cucumber wheel or a stock of lemongrass (depending on which gin you used.)