Tasty crops for a gin garden?
March 30, 2009 5:11 PM   Subscribe

Seeking appropriate and flavorful crop suggestions for my gin garden.

I want to infuse my own gin with herbs and other things grown in a garden. What are some suggestions of exciting and tasty things I can plant in the herbs and vegetation department? Bonus points for being able to grow them in a pot (not much bed next to my patio), and for being relatively easy to maintain. Cheers!
posted by potch to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
It depends on where you live, as in your zone, which should give you a better of idea what and when to plant. Also, since you don't have a lot of space and want less maintenance, I would also recommend using the Square Foot Gardening method.

Besides that, I'm at a loss. The only thing that sounded good to infuse into gin was lemons and other citrus, so perhaps someone else has some better ideas on that.
posted by anniek at 5:29 PM on March 30, 2009

Best answer: If you can grow them: lemongrass, Meyer lemons, Satsuma oranges, spearmint...
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:32 PM on March 30, 2009

You're in luck...herbs do very very well in pots. The best book I've found for container gardening is Bountiful Container. I found it ridiculously inspiring.

As for gin-specific, the first thing I thought of is lemon thyme -- super-easy to grow and it creeps like ground cover.
posted by desuetude at 5:35 PM on March 30, 2009

Best answer: I had a very good gin not long back with cucumber in it, but I suppose it depends whether you can grow those where you live.
posted by AnnaRat at 5:45 PM on March 30, 2009

My husband enjoyed stealing the mint from my garden to infuse his gin and make a gin julep type drink.
posted by waterlily at 6:10 PM on March 30, 2009

I have no idea how it would taste (it's all in the proportions I would imagine), but my mind finds the idea of a Scarborough Fair gin (parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme) oddly exciting.
posted by zachlipton at 6:10 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

The first thing I thought of was pineapple sage. It's much more delicate than what I would consider "proper" sage, and it has a lovely pineapple scent and flavor - we use it in a sweet dressing for fruit salads. It grows very small-shrubby and does nicely in pots, and will have pretty scarlet flowers if you let it. I have also tasted a very nice gin cocktail with cucumber and thyme, and thyme is bad ass in pots.
posted by ersatzkat at 6:25 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Dwarf citrus! Bergamot, Meyer Lemon, Kaffir Lime!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:41 PM on March 30, 2009

There are "chocolate mint" and "apple mint" varieties that are forgiving. The lemon varigated thyme is nice. Think about the older culinary herbs; hoarhound, pennyroyal, sweet woodruff all work. In your area, bergamot perhaps (my favorite).
posted by answergrape at 7:10 PM on March 30, 2009

Many of the older varieties are perennial; you could plan a big wood planter and they'll come back year after year for your enjoyment.
posted by answergrape at 7:13 PM on March 30, 2009

Experimenting is super fun, but who wants to waste perfectly good gin seeing if loganberry and sage infused gin is even palatable?

Making flavored simple syrups is super easy and they store almost indefinitely. Just last night I made kumquat flavored simple syrup and it is delicious.
posted by munchingzombie at 7:22 PM on March 30, 2009

Lemon Basil would be choice.
posted by piedmont at 7:37 PM on March 30, 2009

Response by poster: Well, I'm going to be committing a bit of a crime, in that I'm not technically infusing gin, but making a mock-gin by infusing vodka. I'll leave my Hendricks pure.
posted by potch at 7:47 PM on March 30, 2009

Damson plums would be wonderful. We make Damson gin liqueur every year and people tell us it's the best liqueur they've ever experienced! (In this case, you do need to use gin and not vodka, as the juniper berries of the gin combine magically well with the tart Damson plums.

Damson gin
posted by ragtimepiano at 9:24 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

First, thanks for poking me into researching this topic, potch!

Obviously, a juniper bush is a strong first, although they're common enough ornamentals that you might be able to find fresh berries elsewhere (since bushes may not fruit the first year). They are also available in well-stocked spice stores.

From this link:
Other herbs typically used in making gin include anise, coriander seeds, orange or lemon peels, nutmeg, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon, etc.

Of these, only anise, coriander, fennel, and cardamom are herbs (and good luck finding viable cardamom seeds).

I'd also consider experimenting with traditional gruit flavorings: mugwort, yarrow, sweet gale, and sage. Mugwort is also hard to find, but can be ordered from brewing supply houses. Yarrow freaking grows in your yard, or you can order the seeds.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:38 PM on March 30, 2009

Oops, sorry: didn't read it right. You're starting with gin, not making gin.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:39 PM on March 30, 2009

We make (a version of) Centerbe using a recipe we have from a book, but I've found a very similar recipe here (Google-translated page)

All the herbs - sage, mint, lemon balm, thyme and so on come from our garden. In the picture I've linked to there's another liqueur made from just lemon balm and vodka - this is great too but needs ages - months - to settle down. As it's spring I think I'm also going to try a beech leaf noyau - thought I'd mention it in case you happen to have a beech tree.
posted by calico at 12:39 AM on March 31, 2009

Response by poster: IAmBroom: "Oops, sorry: didn't read it right. You're starting with gin, not making gin."

Nope, you had it right- I want to make gin (from vodka or another neutral spirit)
posted by potch at 12:57 AM on March 31, 2009

Best answer: Mixologist Jeremy Morgenthaler blogged about his attempt at making gin from vodka. At the end of the post, he provides a list of potential herbs and spices for infusing into vodka.

Thai basil
Cherry bark
Whole nutmeg
Cilantro leaf
Arbol chile
Star anise
Whole cloves
Indian sarsaparilla bark

And there's more in the blog comments.
posted by junesix at 11:35 AM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: There are some totally kickass suggestions in here, and I look forward to trying them out. Thanks!
posted by potch at 1:49 PM on April 30, 2009

I know you are looking to make a gin, but as some others have mentioned, some old-fashioned herbs are great when making infusions. Hyssop is an interesting one, and makes a nice ornamental plant.
posted by annsunny at 10:16 AM on May 12, 2009

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