The ginaissance shows no sign of running out of fizz. For those of us who cannot get enough of the hooch, there is, mystifyingly in my view, a whole range of products on the supermarket shelves that are trying to cadge a lift on the gin bandwagon. How about having a gin-flavoured yoghurt, containing 0.25% alcohol, for your breakfast or, perhaps, gin-infused salmon for lunch or gin-flavoured popcorn and sweets whilst slumped in front of the telly? Is there no end to this madness?
That said, there is something vaguely appealing about taking a perfectly acceptable product and making it into something somewhat inferior. With this in mind I decided to have a go at making my own rhubarb gin. It all started with TOWT buying a few sticks of rhubarb which I found lurking in the back of the fridge. As she was showing no intention of making good on her original promise of a tasty rhubarb crumble, I negotiated the deployment of said sticks for my gin making.
Recipes are easy to find on the internet and boil down to three components – gin, caster sugar and rhubarb. The secret, of course, is in the ratios. The two constraining factors are the amount of rhubarb you have at your disposal and the amount of gin – I used cheap supermarket gin – you are prepared to sacrifice. Chop your rhubarb, after washing it and getting rid of the harsh exterior string – into segments of around 2 to 3 centimetres long. Weigh them and put them in a jar, adding 62.5 grams of caster sugar for every 100 gram of the vegetable. Seal the jar, shake vigorously and leave for 24 to 48 hours, stirring the mix from time to time.
What you should find is that the sugar gets to work on the rhubarb and extracts the juice. By the end of 48 hours you will be surprised by how much juice you have in your jar. Then you add the gin – the ratio I used was 175 millilitres of gin for every 100 grams of rhubarb. Seal the jar, shake vigorously and leave for 4 to 5 weeks, agitating the liquid occasionally. The resultant liquid has a distinctive rhubarb smell. You then need to remove the pieces of rhubarb, strain the hooch a few times to get rid of those bits of the rhubarb that have broken off and pour the remaining liquid into a bottle. My gin was distinctly cloudy but absolutely delicious.
There are two types of bar staff in my experience. There are those whose grasp of the basics of addition and subtraction are so tenuous that the time taken to complete any transaction defeats what urge to engage in conversation you may have had and those who are the fount of all local knowledge. Fortunately, Emily at the Trengilly Wartha in Cornwall, a fellow gin enthusiast, was definitely in the latter camp. On learning that I was on the hunt for Cornish gin she recommended that I went to the Constantine Stores in the rural hamlet that is Constantine, near Falmouth.
Never judge a book by its cover. I parked up at an unprepossessing village shop, the type you might be lucky to get your papers, fags and a bottle of chateau grog in. But I was astonished to find upon entering the establishment that it had a stack of shelves groaning under the weight of upwards of seventy or so different gins. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. The boot of my car was laden with a wide range of gins which will give me enough material to review for the foreseeable. It is also the headquarters of drinkfinder.co.uk, an online wholesaler that ships around the world. It is well worth a look.
Until the next time, cheers.