two homemade refreshing gin cocktails for summer

World Gin Day 2021: 6 impressive gin cocktail recipes to make at home

Posted by for Food and Drink

Expand your horizons by going further than a gin and tonic this World Gin Day and try one of these impressive gin cocktails. Plus, expert mixologist, Maria Vieira, shares her tips on the best ways to incorporate gin into your cocktails.

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A gin and tonic is a classic for a reason. It’s a crowd-pleasing drink that’s easy to make and works all year round. But as this year’s World Gin Day falls right at the start of summer, perhaps it’s time to develop a taste for something new and experiment with gin as a cocktail ingredient?

With countless flavours of gin available, the spirit makes for a versatile addition to a number of classic cocktails and it may be just the thing to refresh your drinks repertoire this season.

Maria Vieira, master mixologist at Craft Gin Club, the UK’s largest gin subscription service, has the perfect recipes for some unique gin cocktails, perfect for entertaining at home and the perfect introduction to the spirit for people who usually don’t enjoy gin. “They might even convert them into gin lovers,” Maria says. She has also shared some tips on how to choose the best gin, as well as her advice for making cocktails at home.

Orange Bee’s Knees

This classic prohibition-era cocktail encapsulates the scent of spring, as orange juice adds a layer of sweet citrus that pairs well with the floral notes of honey

What you’ll need:

  • 50ml gin
  • 2tsp honey
  • 20ml lemon juice
  • 10ml orange juice
  • Orange peel twist to garnish

Method:

Add the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a coupette or a martini glass and garnish with a twist of orange peel.

Maria’s expert tip:

Play around with different styles of honey to capture different floral flavours. You can even infuse the honey with your favourite garden herb for a Mediterranean twist.

Negroni Bianco

The Negroni Bianco is a delicate version of the Negroni cocktail, using white vermouth instead of sweet vermouth, adding a floral and fruity taste.

What you’ll need:

  • 30ml gin
  • 30ml white vermouth
  • 30ml Suze liqueur
  • Grapefruit peel to garnish

Method:

Add all the ingredients in a mixing glass full of ice and stir until chilled down. Stir into a rocks glass over ice and garnish with a large grapefruit peel.

Maria’s expert tip:

The Negroni Bianco is the perfect aperitif to sip – pair it with savoury tapas for the perfect springtime setup.

French 75

This classic, sophisticated cocktail is the ideal way to start the spring season after a long winter spent indoors. A celebration cocktail, the French 75 is perfect for special occasions, with citrus notes and a slight tart fruitiness.

What you’ll need:

  • 35ml gin
  • 15ml simple syrup
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • Top champagne

Method:

Add the gin, simple syrup and lemon juice to a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a flute or champagne saucer, topping it with a little champagne. Garnish with a lemon peel.

Maria’s expert tip:

The reason this cocktail works so well with gin is because its aromatic and the pine aromas bond the refreshing citrus notes and the tartness of the cocktail together.

English Garden

This cocktail brings together delicate floral and crispy notes for a refreshing and easy-to-drink cocktail.

What you’ll need:

  • 50ml gin
  • 20ml elderflower syrup
  • 10ml lime juice
  • 75ml apple juice
  • Cucumber and lime top garnish

Method:

Add all the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a highball glass over ice and garnish with a cucumber slice and a lime wheel.

Maria’s expert tip:

This is the perfect cocktail for a spring brunch outdoor with friends on a sunny day - did someone say garden party?

Milk Punch

This cocktail is a classic Milk Punch but the added rose flower water provides a fresh floral aroma that transforms the drink from a winter cocktail to a smooth and delicate spring milk punch.

What you’ll need:

50ml gin

15mil vanilla syrup

1 drop of rose flower water

Edible flower to garnish

Method:

Add all the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a small goblet glass and garnish with an edible flower.

Maria’s expert tip:

Try this cocktail with a dairy-free alternative. Almond milk pairs very well with rose.

Spring Vesper

Spring is the start of rhubarb season and this cocktail adds fruity and earthy notes to the classic martini with a touch of bitterness.

What you’ll need:

  • 45ml rhubarb gin
  • 15ml vodka
  • 15ml Lillet Blanc
  • 2 dashes rhubarb bitters
  • Lemon peel to garnish

Method:

Add all the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake for a few seconds. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a twist of lemon peel.

Maria’s expert tip:

There are plenty of rhubarb gins around but why not try making your own? Infuse 200 grams of fresh chopped rhubarb stalks in a glass jar with 250ml gin and leave to infuse for three days in a cool dry place, shaking it once a day. Strain the liquid out and add 10ml of simple syrup. You can then store it in a cool dry place for up to a month.

Maria’s expert tips for making cocktails at home

Choosing the right gin is essential

You might assume that you can use any old gin in these cocktails, as the other ingredients add so much flavour but Maria explains that choosing the right gin is crucial. “A good gin has a good neutral spirit as a base, good quality botanicals that are used in a well-balanced recipe and a high expertise from the craft distiller on putting it all together,” she explains.

She says you need to take four elements into account when considering the quality of a gin: appearance, smell, taste, finish and story and ethos, asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Appearance: is the liquid free from floating matter? Is it the colour that the distiller intended, according to the style? If tinted or coloured, is the shade appealing?
  2. Smell: is the scent appealing? Does it burn? Are there any clearly identifiable botanical scents, or does it just smell of booze? Are there many botanical layers or is the scent one-note?
  3. Taste: does it taste ‘ginny’ (i.e. is juniper clearly identifiable)? Is the liquid smooth or does it burn? Are the botanical flavours pleasant and well-balanced? How does the gin open up and evolve as you try it for a second time? How does it taste with tonic?
  4. Finish: how long do the pleasant flavours of the gin linger? Does the liquid burn as you swallow or is it pleasantly warming? Do the flavours and texture vanish completely?

Figure out the right way to mix your cocktail

“There are three main reasons for shaking or stirring a cocktail,” Maria explains, “To combine the ingredients thoroughly and create a harmonious, consistent flavour; to chill the drink, as you usually want the cocktail to be much cooler than the room-temperature ingredients going into it or, to dilute the liquid to create a well-integrated, smooth and flavourful drink.”

You should shake a cocktail when:

  • You simply want to cool, mix and dilute the drink quickly
  • You’re combining opaque ingredients such as citrus juice, egg white, cream liqueurs, dairy products or similar ingredients because shaking them will create a cloudy and foamy texture
  • You’re making cocktails for lots of people (especially cocktails with lots of ingredients) because this is less time-consuming

(If you don’t have a shaker, you can use a mason jar, a jam jar or a protein shaker).

You should stir a cocktail when:

  • You’re using distilled spirits in order to keep the cocktail clear (shaking causes air bubbles to form and aerate the liquid)
  • You’re making cocktails with a small amount of alcohol. Look at the ABV % of the cocktail - if it’s low, stir it because shaking it would make it over diluted

Be careful when it comes to adding too many ingredients

You might be tempted to throw everything at your cocktail in order to get the best taste but Maria notes that some of the most beloved cocktails are the ones that use fewer ingredients, like Negronis or Aperol Spritz. “The perfect combination of flavours is what matters,” she says.

“Sometimes when a cocktail isn’t balanced, it’s easy to make the mistake of adding more ingredients in an attempt to fix it,” Maria continues, which won’t work if you’re just using ingredients to fill gaps of missing flavours. But some cocktails do work with more ingredients, if they pair well together, like Tiki-style cocktails.

Prioritise quality 

“Try to always use fresh ingredients and good quality gin and mixers,” Maria says. “They will make such a big difference!”

Maria advises taking care with your cocktails, as you would with cooking a homemade meal, adding that,”the more love you add the better it will taste!”

For more ideas on how you can experiment with gin this spring and summer, head to Craft Gin Club’s website and you can find more cocktail recipes for whatever your spirit of choice might be at Stylist.co.uk.

  • Maria Vieira, mixologist

    Maria Vieira making a cocktail in a bar
    6 gin cocktails to make this spring with Maria Vieira

    Maria Vieira is Craft Gin Club’s master mixologist and she has been working with drinks and cocktails for over 13 years. Craft Gin Club is the UK’s largest gin subscription service and Maria is responsible for developing the unique cocktails they feature online and in their monthly magazine.

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Images: Craft Gin Club

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