DIY Gin

Today, we’re talking about making your own gin! Although it sounds kind of intimidating, it’s super simple and requires a handful of specialized ingredients and very little time. Of course, you could get complicated and use a still pot or mini-distillery, but… It’s actually illegal to distill your own liquor without a license, even just for personal use. So we’re just going to skip that process so we don’t have to call our lawyers, OK?

Instead, we’re focusing on bathtub gin; honestly, it’s basically just infused vodka. Making gin requires a neutral spirit (in this case, vodka) and juniper– the rest is up to you! I’m pretty sure I watched all the YouTube videos and read every article on this process so you don’t have to, so I’ll walk you through what I did to DIY my own gin.

But wait, why would you bother to do all this and not just buy a bottle of gin? I mean, why do we make anything instead of buying it? Well, for one, it’s fun. And right now, it’s something creative to do while safely hanging out at home.

Although I wanted to do a pretty straightforward version, which I modified from Craft Gin Club’s recipe, I also got creative with the flavor profiles for a second gin. (To give credit where credit’s due, thanks to my husband for brainstorming with me and reminding me we had Szechuan peppercorns hiding in the pantry.)

I really enjoyed putting together my own gin based on all the information floating around on the interwebs– and hopefully you will, too. You have the freedom to make something that suits your own taste, and the best way to learn is to experiment!

DIY Gin

DIY GIN RECIPE #1:

This recipe seemed like a safe bet for a straightforward, traditional gin. I saw many similar recipes during all my research, but you can throw in a variety of botanicals to make your gin, just as long as you include juniper berries.

  • 375 ml of good-quality vodka (about 12.5 oz or 1.5 cups)*
  • 2 tbsp of juniper berries*
  • 1 cardamom seed
  • 1 peppercorn
  • ½ tsp of coriander seeds
  • ¼ of a cinnamon stick
  • 1 small, dried lemon peel*
  • 1 small, dried orange peel*

Couple of notes about this gin recipe:

  • I used a higher-quality vodka (which I’m not going to name because I feel a little bad that I took a nice vodka and turned it into gin); you don’t want to use the bottom shelf stuff, but it doesn’t have to be top-shelf, either.
  • I added an extra tablespoon of juniper berries to this gin recipe because I wanted a juniper-forward gin. As you’ll see in my observations at the end of this article, it may not have been quite enough…
  • To dry your citrus peels, you can leave them out in the sun for a couple days before you make your gin. If you haven’t done this step beforehand, you can bake them in the oven on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 20-30 minutes at 200˚ F.
  • Make sure to remove all the pith (white part) from your citrus peels. It’s very bitter, so you don’t want that!
DIY Gin

HOME GIN RECIPE #2:

  • 1 tbsp of juniper berries
  • ½ tbsp of loose chamomile
  • 1 tbsp of rosehips
  • ½ Persian cucumber, cut into slices*
  • 1 tsp of lavender
  • 1 small, dried orange peel
  • 2 Szechuan peppercorns

Notes on this gin recipe:

  • I used the cucumber I had in my fridge already; feel free to use a different kind (English cucumbers are popular in gin recipes), but don’t go too heavy-handed on it! More on that below. 
  • With everything else going on, I would up the Szechuan peppercorns to showcase them a bit more, based on your spice desire. 
DIY Gin

DIRECTIONS FOR HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN GIN AT HOME:

Step 1:

Sterilize your jar(s) in boiling water. If you haven’t pre-dried your citrus peels, do so now in the oven.

Step 2:

Add juniper and cardamom pods first and crush lightly with a muddler

Step 3:

Add all other ingredients, except citrus peels. Top with vodka.

Step 4:

Seal, give it a good shake, and let the jar sit in a dark place for 24 hours.

Step 5:

Taste the infusion to check flavor. Add your citrus peels and any botanicals that need a little extra kick of flavor.

Step 6:

Let your gin infusion sit for another 12-24 hours, giving it a shake at some point in this sitting.

Step 7:

Fine-strain your gin to separate the liquid from the ingredients. I used a coffee filter and then placed a fine strainer underneath to make sure everything was really well-strained.

Note on steeping gin:

I’ve seen some recipes that say to wait 24-48 hours for this second sitting, but be careful not to let your concoction steep too long. I ended up letting it sit for an additional 16 hours (mostly because I didn’t want to wake up at 4 am to make it an even 12, which would have been just fine); the gin was already pretty strong after 24 hours, and I didn’t think it should go another full 24 hours. Next time, I may just let it sit with all ingredients for 24 hours, making sure to add the citrus from the very beginning.

DIY Gin

FLAVOR TIPS FOR MAKING YOUR OWN GIN

  • In the first gin recipe, the cinnamon ended up being so overpowering! My husband called it “the Christmas gin” after tasting it. I would definitely ramp up the juniper and other flavors and add a smaller piece of cinnamon next time. In fact, I ended up re-steeping this gin with more juniper, peppercorn, and orange peel to even out the flavors. For us, this recipe wasn’t a winner the first time around.
  • Shockingly, we loved the second gin– which I completely winged based on 4 or 5 different recipes and my own instinct. I actually made a delicious martini with it last night!
  • In the second gin, the cucumber was definitely the dominant element but was not too overwhelming; still, you could ramp up the other ingredients or go less heavy-handed on the cucumber, depending on your taste. 
  • In the second gin, the flavors were pretty balanced, even though the cucumber was prominent. I could distinctly pick out chamomile and rosehips. 
  • Oddly, the Szechuan peppercorns didn’t stand out the way I thought they would– the regular peppercorns in the first infusion were actually more obvious. I will definitely add more the next time I make my own gin. 
DIY Gin

FINAL THOUGHTS ON DIY GIN

Overall, both attempts tasted like gin and were complex and tasty. I’d like to try rose petals instead of rosehips next time; but we had rosehips on hand already, so it was easy to throw them in. 

While researching, I saw recipe instructions ranging from 12 hours steep to 36 hours for the infusion. As I mentioned, both gins were already pretty strong after 24 hours– which makes sense since I used half the amount of liquor than the Craft Gin Club recipe called for. So justbe willing to taste and adjust your time accordingly. If you use 375 ml of liquor, it’s likely your gin will only need to sit for 24 hours.

Anddon’t be afraid to play with flavors and ingredients! There were a lot of elements I could have added, but I worked with what we had in our pantry and didn’t want to order too many new ingredients. Remember, as long as you include juniper, you can use throw in whatever other botanicals you want. 

Let me know in the comments what you think of these gin recipes, how you modified them, or what gin recipes you’ve come up with yourself. You can also share your techniques and recipes in our Craft Cocktail Club— we’d love to see what you’ve created! And if you need any equipment for making your own gin (or cocktails), head over to our shop. I used the A Bar Above muddler and fine strainer to DIY my own gin, so make sure to grab those if you don’t already have them!

Melanie Tornroth

Melanie Tornroth

A former English teacher, Melanie optimistically embraces the struggle that is work-from-home parenthood as the in-house writer for A Bar Above. When not responding to “Mom” and writing articles for ABA, she also runs Goodnickels Photography, loves to cuddle her cats, and is perfecting the art of keeping her pandemic “fermentation babies” alive.