DIY Gin Recipe

Create a top-notch gin with a handful of botanicals and a pint of vodka.

A small bottle of homemade gin flanked by an olive-garnished martini.

Serious Eats / Marcia Simmons

Why This Recipe Works

  • A two-step, 48-hour infusion results in a flavorful gin with layered and nuanced flavor.
  • You can cherry-pick your favorite botanicals to make a gin with your ideal flavor profile.

The first time I tried gin, I thought it tasted like an evil Christmas tree. That piney flavor I've since fallen in love with comes from juniper berries. Even though those little blue berries give gin its signature flavor, pretty much anything that comes from a plant can find its way into this spirit. Citrus zest, coriander seeds, cinnamon, anise, and licorice, along with various flowers, are among the more common botanicals used in making gin.

At this point, if I had to do a pie chart of the spirits in all my homemade cocktails, gin would be the biggest slice of the pie. It's a cocktail chameleon, bold in one drink yet subtle in the next. Because of the respect—nay, reverence—I have for gin, it felt like sacrilege to try to make my own. But I was naughty and did it anyway. And you know what? I liked it.

What's Available to Buy

Of course, you can easily find gin in any shop that sells liquor. Some boutique brands may be harder to get a hold of, but even the sketchiest liquor store and blandest big-box outlet will have a variety of gins. I have a boatload of gin in my bar, and my favorites change from month to month. Right now I find myself reaching for Bluecoat when mixing gin and tonics. Bluecoat is a bit in-your-face, with juniper upfront along with bold herbal and lemon flavors. Nolet's is light and very floral, with fruity notes that come alive when you mix with citrus. I've been loving this one for creative cocktails made with fresh fruit or preserves. For my French 75 and other Champagne cocktails, I've also been on a Hendrick's kick, which has a gentle character and hint of rose petals.

Why DIY?

When it comes down to it, gin is basically a neutral spirit flavored with juniper berries and a bunch of other stuff. In fact, while most gins undergo a second distillation, some companies do a more elaborate, commercial version of what happens in this recipe. (Technically, this recipe makes what's called compound gin. For more about how commercial gin is made, check out our guide to gin.)

While it might seem like putting a bunch of berries and herbs in vodka couldn't possibly result in a drinkable gin, you definitely can make a gin just as complex and delicious as what you'll find at the liquor store. I like to call it I Can't Believe It's Not Gin, even though that's selling it short because it does not taste like a substitute or compromise.

The best part about DIY gin is cherry-picking your favorite botanicals to make a gin with your ideal flavor profile. It's a low-effort way to geek out on something you love with ingredients you can find in any grocery store. It's easy and fun to create a variety of gins. I like floral notes like lavender and chamomile, but if you wanted to forgo those for bolder flavors like rosemary or cinnamon, go for it.

For a more intense juniper flavor, add more berries or simply let them steep longer. The gin will be a light amber color, instead of clear, because you're not running it through a still after the flavoring. But the color isn't dark enough to make mixed drinks look muddy. (Bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler runs his homemade gin through a Brita-type pitcher several times to make it clear. Since his process and recipe are different, I'm not sure how that would affect my recipe.)

Use It!

Combine your gin with homemade tonic, for a G&T that you'd pay the big bucks for at a nice bar. Equally refreshing but with a little less bite, are the gin rickey and Tom Collins.

In addition to these essential gin cocktails, some other exciting ways to put your DIY gin to work include this fizzy gin and Lillet punch, an Aperol gin punch, a watermelon crawl, a Sergeant Pepper, or perhaps a frozen gin and tonic. Homemade gin really shines in drinks made with fresh ingredients.

June 2012

Recipe Details

DIY Gin Recipe

Active 5 mins
Total 48 hrs
Serves 16 servings

Create a top-notch gin with a handful of botanicals and a pint of vodka.


  • 2 cups vodka (see notes)

  • 2 tablespoons juniper berries

  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

  • 1 teaspoon chamomile

  • 1/2 teaspoon lavender

  • 3 cardamom pods, broken

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 4 allspice berries

  • Two 4-inch pieces of grapefruit peel, with no pith


  1. Combine vodka and juniper berries in a sealable glass jar and steep for 12 hours.

  2. Add coriander, chamomile, lavender, cardamom, bay leaf, allspice, and grapefruit peel. Seal jar and shake, then let steep for an additional 36 hours.

  3. Strain out solids through a strainer lined with cheesecloth, then strain through cheesecloth again into desired bottle. Store at room temperature for up to 1 year.

Special Equipment

Cheesecloth, fine mesh strainer


Choose the most neutral-tasting vodka you can find.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
68 Calories
0g Fat
1g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 68
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 1mg 5%
Calcium 6mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 15mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)