Save a bad gin
April 22, 2016 3:33 PM   Subscribe

We bought a bottle of gin. It is...not good. Can we turn it into something palatable?

We bought a bottle of Uncle Val's Peppered gin, mostly because we hadn't had it before and it sounded interesting. It basically tastes like rubbing alcohol with some peppery-ness; there's not much in the way of botanicals. Could we infuse it with some herbs or something to improve it? Is making cocktails the only way to disguise or improve it? I think the cocktails would suffer because of the bad base gin.
posted by Bunny Boneyology to Food & Drink (21 answers total)
Is this stuff so bad that it makes a bad G&T? If so, don't make cocktails with it. Tonic water can handle more dodgy flavours than anything worth getting a cocktail shaker out for. So if you can't stand it with tonic, you might want to consider slinging it.

That said, if you're determined to try to salvage it, I'd suggest following a limoncello recipe (like this, but they're all the same, just stick peel without pith into vodka), but substitute your bad gin for vodka and lime peel for the lemon peel. I've never tried this, but I reckon you could get something decent going in that direction.

Other idea, Pimm's #1 is gin based, so you could use this as a base for an imitation Pimm's. This recipe could be your starting point.

I'd go for fruit infusions like the ones suggested above, rather than herbs. Fruit is going to better balance whatever shit is going on in that bottle, while herbs risk making the whole thing worse.
posted by howfar at 3:49 PM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Drown it in vermouth and olive brine. Dirty Martinis.
posted by cmiller at 4:01 PM on April 22, 2016 [4 favorites]

i'd make the equivalent of pisco sour or caipirinha - basically add sugar and lemon juice to taste.

here's a fancy recipe and all we do at home.

really, all you get is something that tastes lemony with a kick. but pretty nice, cold. my parents add orange juice too, for some odd reason.
posted by andrewcooke at 4:07 PM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Take your brita. Put in a new filter. Pour the gin through it.

This works for vodka, so maybe it will work with gin.

Hint: don't use the existing filter.
posted by janey47 at 4:09 PM on April 22, 2016 [15 favorites]

I once was able to use up a bad gin making French 75s, but I get the feeling the pepperiness isn't going to make that possible.
posted by ejs at 4:11 PM on April 22, 2016

Tangentially related, don't let the Peppered turn you off Uncle Val's. The Botanical is right up there with The Botanist for flavourful gins in my book.
posted by a halcyon day at 4:14 PM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Try adding some angostura bitters to it to make a pink gin or to a G&T of it.
posted by Flitcraft at 4:14 PM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seargent Pepper Cocktail? Leave out the peppercorns from the recipe and just use the other ingredients.
posted by permiechickie at 4:20 PM on April 22, 2016

Gin Bloody Mary
posted by bradbane at 4:46 PM on April 22, 2016 [4 favorites]

You most definitely can infuse it with botanicals (and many other things)!

Jeffrey Morgenthaler can tell you how.

Serious Eats also has an article on DIY gin.
posted by jenquat at 5:04 PM on April 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

janey47: "Take your brita. Put in a new filter. Pour the gin through it.

This works for vodka, so maybe it will work with gin.

Hint: don't use the existing filter.

Depending upon the quality of the filter and the number of times you run it through, eventually you will make vodka out of gin. If you go this way soak your filter in the gin to get it started.
posted by Splunge at 5:13 PM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Infuse it with fruit and sugar. Works great with cheap whiskey.
posted by gnutron at 6:07 PM on April 22, 2016

Perfect for Bloody Marys!
posted by littlewater at 6:39 PM on April 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Don't know if you saw this blog post but it also recommends using it for a Bloody Mary variant. You could also try it in a Negroni maybe; the sweetness of the other ingredients might balance the pepperiness a little. Maybe it'd work in a hot toddy?
posted by en forme de poire at 6:48 PM on April 22, 2016

I had the same feeling about the Uncle Val's botanical gin, but found that on the rocks and left for a minute to dilute a bit, it evened out nicely.
posted by TheCoug at 7:05 PM on April 22, 2016

Watermelon juice, pepper gin, and a mint sprig.
Lemonade, pepper gin, and a rosemary sprig.
Muddled strawberries in pepper gin over crushed ice with a lime wedge.
Dry cucumber soda, pepper gin, and fresh basil.
Ginger ale, pepper gin, basil, and a lemon wedge.
posted by erst at 7:06 PM on April 22, 2016 [4 favorites]

Seconding the Brita pitcher. I read an article once about people who had turned total shit vodka into something that tasted like high end vodka, just by running it through a Brita 3-4 times.
posted by MexicanYenta at 5:18 AM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would not bother filtering it. The reason filtering works for cheap vodka is that it mimics the process that produces expensive vodka and in doing so potentially removes congeners and/or impurities that could contribute to the nasty side effects of cheap vodka. What you have is a premium spirit you don't like, so you're less concerned with quality control (it was almost assuredly multiply-distilled and filtered already) and more concerned with taste.

You can infuse gin. Certain infusions work well under pressure (i.e. in an ISI siphon) and others just require time. So you could try to "rectify" it with compatible flavors, but off the top of my head I can't think what you might want for that.

But my primary suggestion has already been made above: make a Bloody Mary with it (the gin variant is sometimes, but not consistently, known as a Red Snapper) and cut back on the added pepper. I'd also try to find other gin cocktail recipes that might benefit from the pepper. Maybe a Collins or a Southside? A Gin-Gin Mule or a Suffering Bastard?
posted by fedward at 12:47 PM on April 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

How bad is bad? In my college years, we had a "bad bottle" of vodka from Mexico that made everyone who drank from it violently ill. Naturally, instead of pouring it out, the fun gag was to surreptitiously slip it into someone else's party so they could enjoy the fun. In spite of a bunch of chemistry nerds handy, nobody ever analyzed it - was it methanol? Coumadin? Who knows. Good times.

In any case, if it's 'bad' as in might actually be hazardous or poisonous I give you permission to pour it down the sink.
posted by soylent00FF00 at 6:44 PM on April 23, 2016

Thanks for all the suggestions! howfar's limoncello idea sounds like fun, so we'll give that a try, also we don't have a Brita so filtering is out. Fortunately, the gin isn't as bad as soylent00FF00's devil vodka, so hopefully in a few weeks we'll have something tasty!
posted by Bunny Boneyology at 8:31 AM on April 25, 2016

You guys are the best! We did the DIY limoncello, just tasted it today, and it's fantastic! Y'all saved my gin! Thanks!
posted by Bunny Boneyology at 11:36 AM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

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