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Cocktail Hour: Custom-Craft Your Own Gin, It’s Easy

HomeMade Gin Kit

There are plenty of reasons to make cocktails at home: You can impress your friends and neighbors, save money on upscale bars and custom-blend the flavors you like.

Anyone can experiment with mixers and add-ons, but distilling alcohol is a tricky and dangerous undertaking. Luckily, one wet-bar mainstay can be created by an amateur.

Gin is essentially the first flavored vodka, a spirit distilled from corn, malted barley, rye or wheat to which are added juniper berries. The berries are too bitter to be eaten on their own but release a distinctive aroma when crushed.

A variety of other spices and botanicals round out the flavor, sometimes including cardamom, bergamot (a type of orange whose essence is used to flavor Earl Grey tea) and/or cinnamon.

So the budding  mixologist can easily make gin at home. One easy way to try it is with the HomeMade Gin Kit, which has everything you’d need to custom-craft your own gin.

“To me, it’s about caring what you’re drinking,” says Joe Maiellano, who came up with the business idea last year with friend Jack Hubbard, both 20-something Washington, D.C.-based entrepreneurs.

“When you use our kit, you’re not only involved in making what you’re about to drink, you’re also gaining a better understanding of what the finished product is, what to look for in commercial gins and what you can do better next time.”

Gin can be done 36 hours later

Released just before the holidays, the kit comes with a proprietary blend of spices, botanicals and flowers; a tin of juniper berries; two Italian glass bottles (one 500 ml, the other 250 ml); a fine double-mesh strainer; a funnel; and instructions. The first round of 300 kits, $40 each, sold out in two days.

Just add a bottle of vodka (not included) and 36 hours later homemade gin is ready to pour. It can be sipped with tonic water and lime or mixed into such classic cocktails as the Negroni, Martini, Aviation or Gimlet.

“I see the kit as a bridge between folks who already have discerning tastes when it comes to commercial gins and folks who are real cocktail snobs and are already making their own bitters and tonics at home, myself included,” adds Maiellano. “We’re sort of that steppingstone that teaches our customers about the process and gives them the tools to start exploring more on their own.”

209 Martini

Serves 1

Courtesy of Distillery No. 209


3 ounces gin, such as No. 209

⅛ ounce dry vermouth, preferably Vya

Lemon peel


1. Shake ingredients over ice for 10 seconds.

2. Pour into a martini glass and garnish with a lemon peel.

Top photo: Straining a batch of homemade gin. Credit: Zach Stamey of Focus Media

Zester Daily contributor Virginie Boone is a Sonoma Valley-based wine writer. She has reported on the Northern California wine scene for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and its affiliate food and wine magazine, Savor, and is a contributing reviewer of California wines for Wine Enthusiast.

  • Quercki 1·15·13

    What, no bathtub?

  • MIke 4·21·15

    So the article on making your own gin is nothing more than a link to a kit? Seriously?