Red Currant Gin
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Infuse your own gin with the distinctive sweet/tart taste of red currants. This simple process can be adapted to any quantities, and yields a wonderful finished product in about one month. It can also be easily adapted to black or white currants.
Infusing your own alcohol is possible the easiest and cheapest way to put a distinctive and personalized spin on your cocktail making. It’s so easy in fact, that I honestly wonder why it’s not a more common practice.
And yet, I should probably not get on too high a horse when it comes to avoiding ‘easy’ work. Despite the fact that this recipe is both easy to make and fairly easy to write up, I’ve let it sit on the back burner for way, way too long. I know that it’s been too long because I published the Clock Calm – a cocktail that actually uses this gin – nearly three years ago. Needless to say, I owe you all a followup.
Now, let’s talk about why you should make this infusion in particular. After all, you could put any number of fruits into any number of alcohols. I know I do – I’ve got multiple concoctions infusing and/or aging in glass jars. While many infusions start with a neutral base (e.g. vodka), I personally like working with gin because it’s not a neutral spirit. The herbal components – and especially the juniper berry flavour that largely defines gin – make the drink complex and interesting. You could mix plenty of different fruits with gin, but currants are probably my favourite because of the interesting versatility that they afford. Red currants have a tart, distinctive flavour, but they’re not very sweet. Because of this, they’re frequently served with lots of added sugar (e.g. in jams, jellies, and desserts). But if we forget about the sugar and just let the currants stand on their own, we find that the bright and acidic flavour works wonderfully with savoury dishes and herbs. This dichotomy carries over to infused red currant gin, which works beautifully in both sweet and dry cocktails. I tend to like my cocktails on the dryer side, but I’ve made my Clock Calm cocktail in both sweet and semi-sweet versions and the gin tends to steal the show no matter what.
I don’t think you’ll have a hard time finding ways to use this beautiful, ruby-red gin, but it’s worth mentioning that gin isn’t just for cocktails! Juniper berries and red currants are both wonderful accompaniments to a wide variety of sweet and savoury dishes, so there are plenty of options to explore. I recommend trying this gin in sauces or marinades for roasted meats, in preserves or fruit sauces, or in a wide variety of desserts (ice cream, cake, and soft mousses or curds would be my jumping off point). The sky’s the limit when it comes to cocktail creativity, but if you’re hunting around for ideas try starting with drinks that call for sloe gin, then swap this infusion in instead. Do note that sloe gin is generally a little sweeter than this infusion however, so you may need to adjust your cocktails with simple syrup, etc. Enjoy, and cheers!
There’s virtually nothing complicated about making this infused gin, but I will take a bit of time to discuss the ingredients (and variations), and a couple of tips to help you ensure that you get delicious and consistent results. If you’ve got a question that you don’t see addressed here or in the recipe itself, let me know in the comments below!
Type of GIn
I tend to take a middle-of-the-road approach when it comes to choosing alcohols for infusion. I recommend staying away from the really cheap stuff, as there can often be harsh, imbalanced, or otherwise off-putting flavours. It’s the same approach that I take to cooking with wine: if you can’t stand to drink it as-is, you probably shouldn’t bother with it. That being said, it seems a bit of a shame to use a carefully crafted (and expensive) high-end gin made with delicate and nuanced botanical ingredients, given that you’re going to substantially change the flavour profile by infusing fruit. Most of the big name brand gins should work fine, but it’s worth doing a bit of hunting to see if there are any good local gin makers in your area. Gin has gone through a craft renaissance in recent years, and there are plenty of interesting (and often relatively inexpensive) regional gins coming out of distilleries all over the world.
Young jenever (jonge jenever) can also be used to make this infusion. I would avoid using malty/woody/smoky old jenever (oude jenever) – unless, of course, that’s the flavour direction you want your infusion to be taking.
Red currants (aka redcurrants) aren’t the only currant out there, and they’re not the only currant you can use! Black currants, which are commonly used to make the French liqueur crème de cassis, are a great ingredient to infuse with gin. The dark purple finished gin will share some of the sweet/tart profile of the red currant version, but with a distinct cassis flavour of its own. White currants (which are actually a very pale cultivar of the red currant) are another lovely option. White currants will generally yield a pale pink finished gin. This gin may also be a little bit sweeter, as white currants tend to be a little sweeter than their red cousins.
While I haven’t tried it myself, I suspect that you’d be able to use gooseberries (a close relative of currants) to infuse gin as well. I’ve seen gooseberries used to make vodka infusions, so there’s no reason to suspect any problems with gin. Gooseberries do tend to have a bit more water in them, so you might get a slightly milder (lower alcohol) end product, but it should be a pretty minimal difference. Jostaberries, which are a hybrid between black currants and gooseberries, would also work nicely if you can find them.
Clarity & Consistency
I like to take a fairly lazy, laid-back, hands-off approach to making my infusions by leaving the infusion in a cool, dark spot for a month or more. The booze equivalent of set it and forget it, if you will. I do give it the occasional shake (especially in the first few days), but I’m not worried about a schedule or anything. You can speed the process up a bit by shaking the jar regularly, but I still recommend leaving it for at least 3 weeks to fully infuse.
Once your red currant gin is ready to finish off, you want to pour it through a strainer to get out the berries, followed by a very fine mesh or sieve. This fine mesh (like the one shown in the pictures above and below) will filter out all of the little bits and pieces, leaving a nice clear finished product. I tend to pour mine through twice in order to get a nicerr looking end product. Note that the solids tend to build up a bit in the strainer as you pour, so you may want to scoop them out as you work.
If you don’t have mesh strainers, you can pour your gin through a several layers of cheesecloth instead. I recommend soaking the cheesecloth in plain gin, then pouring the red currant gin through. This will help keep your infused gin from soaking into the cloth. You can also squeeze the cheesecloth to get the absorbed gin out, but this tends to make your gin cloudy thanks to the tiny solids that get squeezed through as well.
If you’re concerned that your gin still isn’t quite clear enough for your tastes, let it stand for a few days to allow any solids to settle in the jar, then carefully pour of the clear gin from the top.
It’s worth noting that this is a purely cosmetic issue; fine sediment shouldn’t impact the taste of your gin substantially.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that currants and gooseberries are quite high in pectin (the complex polysaccharide that helps to set jams and jellies). Because of this, you may notice that your gin might have a slightly ‘syrupy’ appearance (i.e. it’s a little thicker and less watery than plain gin). This is perfectly normal.
Note: Nutritional Information is given for a 30 ml (1 ounce) portion (1/8th of the total recipe).
No ingredient pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe. Like to see one? Let me know in the comments below or by email.
No pantry pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe. Like to see one? Let me know in the comments below or by email.
Red Currant Gin
- 1 cup gin
- 3.5 oz red currants (~1/2 cup, slightly mounded)
- Combine gin and red currants in a mason jar or other tightly sealing container.
- Use a spoon to gently mash the currants a little to help them release some juice, then set aside to infuse for 1 month, shaking every few days.
- When the gin is ready to use, strain out the solids. You may want to gently press against the leftover currants in order to extract all of the liquid. Pour the finished gin through a strainer. I like to use a coarse strainer, followed by a very fine strainer in order to get a clearer final product.Store the gin in a mason jar or sealed bottle and use as you would any other gin.