Gin drinkers are a finicky bunch: The range of flavors and styles on the market is mind-bogglingly complex, and each one, it seems, has a very specific use for each individual imbiber. My home bar (which is to say, the makeshift wood shelves in my basement) could double as a public-service announcement warning against the rabbit-hole you can fall into when your love of gin grows too heated. I have bottles for gibsons, others for martinis, examples that take well to Fever-Tree Tonic and others more suited for Q Tonic—and, lord help me and my poor liver, there are more that I just sip straight.
So I was skeptical when I first got wind of the HomeMade Gin Kit, a DIY setup created by a couple originally from Philadelphia (and who have since relocated to DC). How good could it really be? I wondered.
Turns out: Really, really good.
The kit comes with two tins of juniper berries and two of mixed botanicals, including cardamom pods, rose hips, fennel seeds, and more—enough for two batches. It also includes two glass flasks, a large one to keep for yourself and a smaller one to gift, as well as a strainer and a funnel. The process is simple: Buy a bottle of vodka—I went with Smirnoff; no need to spend a fortune here—add the dried juniper berries, and 24 hours later add the botanicals. Twelve hours after that, strain it all into the flasks, and voila: you have gin. Lovely, perfumed, complex gin, too; since that first tentative sip, it’s taken pride of place in my basement-turned-bar. It’s delicious, a lot of fun to make, and a great gift option for the holidays.
HomeMade Gin Kit, $49.95. homemadegin.com. You can also purchase refill spice tins and a special Christmas-spice blend for $10.
Year of Beer: Great Lakes Eliot Ness
Year of Beer: Weißenoher Monk’s Fest