Ginuary 30th: Pink Lady Sugar Cookies.

Today’s a busy one! No time to muck about! Squeeze that gin in where you can! Ah, a bit of prepared baking. Perfect. Nailed it.

Pink Lady Sugar Cookies

  • 225g unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1.5 cups caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp gin (I used Monkey 47 + The Retiring)
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 2.5 cups flour

Cream the butter and sugar for a few minutes, until fluffy. Add egg and beat until well mixed. On low speed, mix in the remaining ingredients.

Chill the dough for a couple of hours. Preheat the oven to 175°C. Prepare the icing in the meantime, because the biscuits cool bake quickly.

  • 60g butter, softened
  • 1.5 cups icing sugar
  • 1 Tbsp gin (I used Bombay Sapphire)
  • 1 Tbsp Grenadine
  • 1-2 drops food colouring for fanciness

Cream the butter in a mixer. Add the rest and mix slowly to combine, then beat on high for a couple of minutes until fluffy.

Back to the biscuits! Line a tray with baking paper and place tablespoon-sized balls roughly 5cm apart. Bake for only 10-15mins—until the biscuit is raised, barely browned at all. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before icing.

must… photograph… before… eating

Ooh lawd I love biscuits! As an Australian, ‘biscuit’ is a more common term for me than ‘cookie’ (while meaning the same thing) so apart from the official title I gotta stick with my roots, as well as converting some of the measures from the original American recipe.

I haven’t made a batch of biscuits for ages, so this was a real treat, even if I did finish at around 3am because time management isn’t my strongest forte. The original recipe called for an American gin, Jack Rabbit by Beehive Distilling. I don’t own any Jack Rabbit (not even sure if it’s available in Australia) but now I’ve looked it up, I would love to. Its more notable botanicals are sage and rose petals, and while I was baking and subbing I was thinking sweet thoughts of honey, thanks to the name of the distillery. I had to pick my own subs, so I went with a mix. Because I’m crazy like that. I used Tasmania’s The Retiring, Germany’s Monkey 47 and threw Bombay Sapphire through the icing.

I think the flavour of the gin gets mostly lost in the biscuit itself but has a bit more chance to make an impact in the icing, so I kind of wish I’d done my gins the other way around. Still! Biscuits are delicious! Or cookies! Whatever you want to call them! And I’m going to make lots of friends with my leftovers tomorrow.

Ginuary 29th: Monkey Gland.

I have so many things to say about today’s choice that I don’t quite know where to begin, so let’s wait until I’m drunk to write it all out. Here’s the drink!

Monkey Gland

  • 50ml gin (I used Bombay Sapphire)
  • 30ml fresh orange juice
  • 2 drops absinthe
  • 5ml grenadine

Shake well over ice, double strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupe.

Nice placemat, tell me more!

That was easy. Now let’s talk about how I got here.

Back late last year I was recapping the first four Ginuarys on instagram, in both an effort to flesh out the new account and a way to hype myself up for the new month and try to maybe sorta kinda be a little bit planned, as opposed to previous years. Both ideas worked, much to my delight. But in recapping and reliving the past months, I discovered a few glaring holes in my history of Ginuary. I’ve done a few drinks inspired by or expanded on classic drinks, without blogging those classic drinks themselves. The Southside was one, and I hit that up earlier this month.

Monkey Gland was another. Way back during the first Ginuary, I had a Monkey Taxonomy at the now-defunct Salon bar in Brisbane. It was an “improved” version, a riff of the classic, with blood orange juice, a grenadine glaze, a big fat frozen plum, a very large and impressive block of ice. The drink came served inside a latex glove, and you snipped a finger off to pour it into its glass. If you know the origin of the Monkey Gland cocktail, this all makes more sense: the drink is named after a surgical technique of grafting monkey testicle tissue into humans. Yes, you read correctly. The procedure was vogue in the 1920s, and the drink came from that same decade.

But to this day I’d never given its predecessor a day of Ginuary. It almost fell by the wayside this year, too… until the fabulous Gin Monkey sent me a copy of her beautiful new book, the Periodic Table of Cocktails. I’ve been slowly amassing a collection of cocktail books, and those written by fellow bloggers are personal favourites before I’ve even read them, to be honest. Monkey’s combines cocktails and science in a wonderful way of reflecting two facets of her life. Straight from the Monkey’s mouth: The idea behind the book is to take the concept and principles behind the periodic table (that orders all of the known elements that make up the world by atomic number and therefore chemical properties and behaviour), and apply them to the topic of cocktails. The book is therefore structured around the table that sits at the front of the book (and at the back in a fold out colour poster), and the cocktail recipes within are ordered as such.

Speaking as someone fairly geeky, I’m tickled by the way each of the drinks was meticulously chosen for this book and sits so well in its element. Naturally I thumbed through in search of gin drinks, but with over a hundred recipes, this book covers all bases—no matter what your preferred spirit (and individual spirit preferences are very easy to navigate to using the index at the back). Each included drink has a short spiel, and most are classics. It’s a beautiful introduction to cocktails for a new home bartender, and a classy addition for the rest of us.

For Ginuary, though, it was straight to the index for gin. I worked my way down the list, ticking off each one I’d done. I started to worry. But wait. Of course. Monkey Gland from the Gin Monkey. It was almost too perfect.

Ginuary 27th: Baked Martini Olives.

This one’s up a bit late because I spent the day entertaining a couple of gal pals at my place! I could have served them up a cocktail or two each but instead I went with finger food. Not the best choice for card games but we polished them off pretty darn quickly, nonetheless…

Baked Martini Olives

  • 250g mixed olives (or your favourites), drained
  • 1-2 cloves smashed garlic
  • several stems of thyme/oregano/rosemary
  • 1 small lemon, sliced thinly
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup gin
  • 1 Tbsp dry vermouth (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Mix everything together in a small mixing bowl before transferring to a small oven-proof dish deep/wide enough to hold the olives. (This mixture will bubble in the oven and you don’t want a mess.) Add more gin and olive oil if needed (the olives don’t need to be fully submerged).

Bake for about thirty minutes. Let the olives cool a little before shoving them in your gob.

   

I’d even be inclined to call these martini olives. Maybe baked martini olives. Ok, yes, I’m officially changing the name (they were originally called gin-marinated olives; the start of this paragraph is going to seem confusing now). I threw in a dash of dry vermouth because I have some beautiful Maidenii in the fridge at the moment and it almost seemed necessary, what with olives and lemons and gin. Give me a dirty martini in a bowl, right? I felt wrong not putting dry vermouth in there. 

These ginny olives feel like finality for me. Here’s the thing—way back during the first Ginuary in 2012, I actually made up a batch of gin olives from another recipe (I should mention, this one’s from Lydia’s Flexitarian Kitchen) and had them waiting in the fridge… and promptly forgot about them. When it was time to move house (and state) I rediscovered them, and ended up gifting them to my hetero lifemate (I think I did, anyway…). So I never tried them! But the reason I found the recipe in the first place was because I used to go to this wonderful restaurant and bar in Woolloongabba in Brisbane called the Crosstown Eating House and gin-marinated olives were one of their cocktail bar snacks. My life would never be the same after trying those.

Today’s weren’t those olives, but they were pretty darn delicious. Warm from the oven (what an excellent step) and definitely alcoholic (“Do they taste boozy?” “I absolutely wouldn’t serve them to children”), like I said—we made them disappear very quickly. 

I’m actually marinating a second batch overnight (or longer; who knows with me) to see if I can get a stronger flavour seeped into them. I imagine the baking helps to cook that flavour in but I’m stubborn. And curious. It’s a lifestyle. 

Ginuary 26th: Sloe Pimm Fizz.

Today was a national public holiday in Australia, so like all good Australians I… worked a full day for public holiday penalty rates. My drink choice was based around a couple of Aussie (Tasmanian, to be exact) favourites I could throw in! Originally found on instagram, thanks to @haywardgary.

Sloe Pimm Fizz

  • 22.5ml gin (I used Bombay Sapphire)
  • 15ml sloe gin (I used McHenry Distillery)
  • 30ml Pimm’s No.1
  • 15ml fresh lemon juice
  • 1 egg white

Shake well with ice for a minute or so (dry shake first to emulsify the egg if you like—I did like).

Strain into a highball glass, leave to settle and then top (VERY) carefully with ginger beer.

Garnish with expressed lemon peel and discard.

 

Henry’s and McHenry!

Watch out folks, this one is SUPER fizzy! Lots of fun. No extra sweetening in here, just the sugar from the sloe gin and the Pimms, so it’s definitely a sassy drink full of flavour. I really enjoyed sipping this down and continuing to top up with ginger beer as I went.

Now to finish the leftover ginger beer (my favourite!) with a meat pie for dinner, cos Straya.

Ginuary 25th: Perfect Martini.

No, I’m not going to tell you how to make the perfect combination. Everyone has their own perfect combination, and that’s absolutely fine. Experiment to find what YOUR perfect martini is, ok? Having said that, this is how to make a Perfect Martini, where “perfect” means equal parts of sweet and dry vermouth.

Perfect Martini

  • 45ml gin (I used the Retiring)
  • 45ml dry vermouth (I used Maidenii)
  • 45ml sweet vermouth (I used Dolin)

Stir over ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish as you like.

Ok, look. I don’t really know what what I’m doing. Today’s drink was inspired by Alamagoozlum’s tweet a couple of days ago, recommending equal thirds of all three drinks. That’s what was stuck in my head. I tried to search the web to confirm the recipe but YOU try searching “perfect cocktail”, ok!? You’ll primarily get a bunch of websites recommending their opinion of the perfect balance.

Of course, it was only after I made (and photographed) my drink that I drilled my search down a little further and found that “perfect” really only means an equal split of vermouths, not necessarily an equal amount of gin too! So I drank my original (and photographed) drink, enjoyed it very much, then made another with 10ml of each vermouth and around maybe 60ml of gin, I don’t know. Not an actual comparison post because I didn’t have them side by side but I… yes. The gin-forward version is also very delicious. They’re both delicious. I think I like the gin-forward one better but I can’t lock that in because I didn’t try them side by side and the first one was also very delicious.

Yes, I am a bit tiddly.

Ginuary 22nd: lemon rice pudding with gin syrup.

You wanna know something I love? Yes, ok, gin. But also rice pudding. My nanan used to make the best rice pudding ever when I was little, and now I live in a beautiful cold climate (well, in winter, anyway) I find curling up on the couch with a blanket and a bowl of rice pudding a real treat. Finding a recipe that gave me an excuse to curl up on the couch (sans blanket, it is the middle of summer) with a bowl of rice pudding for Ginuary? Consider me sold.

Lemon Rice Pudding with Gin Syrup

  • 700ml full cream milk
  • 3/4 cup risotto or short grain rice
  • 2 lemons
  • 6 Tbsp caster sugar
  • 4 Tbsp floral gin (I used Hendrick’s)
  • 3 Tbsp toasted almond slivers

Put the milk and rice (and a sprinkle of salt) in a saucepan and bring to the boil gently. Simmer for 15-20mins, stirring occasionally, until the rice is cooked (you may need to add a little more milk).

While the rice is cooking, zest the lemons and set aside. Cut off the peel and segment the flesh in a small bowl, saving any juice.

In a small saucepan, make a 2:1 sugar syrup with the caster sugar and 2 Tbsp water. When the sugar has dissolved, turn off the heat and stir in the gin.

When the rice is cooked, add the remaining 2 Tbsp sugar to the pudding, along with the lemon zest, any juice, and half the gin syrup. Stir well. Put the segmented lemon in the remaining gin syrup.

Spoon the rice into warmed bowls, add a drizzle of lemon syrup and a sprinkle of almonds. Scoff with great abandon.

Dessert… or breakfast.

I’m very good at not reading ahead with recipes. As the pudding was near the end of its bubbling, I realised that I had a bit more work to do regarding the syrup and lemons. Luckily I had some 2:1 sugar syrup already made up, so I just heated that and added the gin, then frantically segmented the lemons as mid-cook my boss texted to ask where I was because I totally got my start time at work wrong. FRANTIC.

I threw the pudding and syrup into a container and took them to work for a very luxurious work lunch, but this did mean I had to sacrifice toasting my almond slivers. Scandalous. What even are almonds if they’re not toasted, I ask you? Look, it doesn’t really matter in the end because I had a delicious rice pudding with a smack of sour lemon and a drizzle of beautiful gin, so really, I won in the end anyway.

 

Ginuary 21st: the Southside.

Southside? South Side? Lemon? Lime? Here’s the problem with classic cocktails… who knows? Or maybe we know, but the improved version is actually better, which is why it’s better known? All I know is when there’s such a clear divide of opinions in recipes, I’ve got no choice.

I have to do a comparison post, and probably get a bit drunk in doing so.

The things I do for Ginuary.

The Southside

  • 60ml gin (I used Sipsmith)
  • 15ml lime juice
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • 15ml simple syrup
  • 6-8 mint leaves

Shake ingredients over ice and double strain into a cocktail or coupe glass. Garnish with another mint leaf or two.

Here’s what I did. One with lemon. One with lime. One with half/half. I will fight you. Half/half won. I know, I was surprised too! I actually expected lime to be the winner, and it was winning for me until I thought to try the half/half blend. Maybe it was also the glass choice—the first two I did in cocktail glasses and they don’t come anywhere near to filling the glass, but in a coupe it’s kind of perfect.

Look, I’m still really tired and I have now had six shots of alcohol and it’s bedtime and I don’t have to be anywhere tomorrow morning. BYE.

Ginuary 20th: Piccadilly Circus.

I started my day at 4:45am in Melbourne when my alarm went off for me to get to the airport, and I ended my day at 10pm when I got home from work in Hobart. Suffice it to say, I am exhausted. I’m very grateful to my past self for hoarding away a delicious limited edition mixer. 

Piccadilly Circus

  • 30ml gin (I used Tanqueray)
  • Schweppes Orange Grapefruit & Bitters
  • squeeze of lime
  • slice of grapefruit
  • sprig of mint

Pour gin over ice. Top with Schweppes, finish with the lime squeeze and garnish with grapefruit and mint. 

  

This one’s a little confusing to me, if only because a fairly simple mixer recipe is set out like a cocktail. It really is just the gin and the mixer; the other things mostly make it pretty? It doesn’t matter, I’m too tired to argue and this mixer basically exists to be put with gin so I’m more than happy to do that. 

Ginuary 16th: the Ophelia.

My brother got married today. Hooray! There were no spirits on offer at the wedding so I got the chance to do my own signature cocktail for their nuptials. It had to be simple enough for me to throw together on the night but still be interesting and delicious.

My brother lives in Perth, WA, and one thing I’ve noticed here is that rosemary hedges are a thing. I’ve never seen a rosemary hedge just hanging out like I’ve seen in Perth! I like to run my hands along hedges as I’m walking (I like their blunt tops) but in Perth you have to be careful doing that because sometimes you’ll end up with the smell of rosemary lingering for a good hour or two. Still, it made it very easy to narrow down an appropriate drink recipe.

The Ophelia

  • 45ml gin (I used Sipsmith)
  • 22.5ml fresh lemon juice
  • 22.5ml rosemary simple syrup
  • soda/mineral water to top

To make the syrup, mince 1/4 cup of fresh rosemary and bring to the boil with 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water. Bring off the heat and leave to infuse for a further 45mins. Double strain and bottle.

For the drink, fill a Collins glass with ice and add gin, syrup and lemon juice. Stir. Top with soda, garnish with a sprig of rosemary and a lemon wedge. 

Wedding adjustments.

I was using a much smaller glass as that’s what was wedding-ready, so I downsized the measures (a bit… well, ok… I mostly freestyled them) and went sans fresh garnish wedge but apart from that I was all systems go. (Thanks to my mother for ferrying my ingredients over to the reception venue for me.)

I was very happy with my choice! A beautiful, fresh cocktail for a warm summer wedding; I think they paired together very nicely. Now I’m off to do some more celebrating.

Ginuary 13th: Tomato Jam.

What? That’s not gin, that’s tomatoes. Ah, see… but gin cooks so well with tomatoes. I remember this well from one of my all-time favourite gin foods, the perfect and simple gin penne pasta. This year’s recipe obsession has been this one. This one right here.

Tomato Jam

  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 Tbsp EVOO
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cups/1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1-2 Tbsp brown sugar (to taste)
  • 1/3 cup gin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano leaves and/or flowers, rough chop

Heat the oil and butter over med-high heat in a pan until it foams. Add shallots over medium heat. Next, add the tomatoes and cook for five minutes or so. As the tomatoes start to break down, add sugar, gin, salt and chilli. Cook for another ten minutes, pushing down the tomatoes with a wooden spoon to smash them (FUN). The sauce will begin to thicken. Add the red wine vinegar and oregano, stirring to incorporate. Continue to cook for another couple of minutes and then turn off the heat.

Store in a clean glass container until ready to serve. If you aren’t eating immediately (it will be hard to resist), it will keep in the fridge for a week or so but make sure it’s served at room temperature.

  

Why room temperature? I don’t know, I don’t argue with original posters. Except for sweetness. I found two tablespoons of brown sugar just a little on the super sweet side, and while I haven’t yet made another batch (YET because I TOTALLY WILL), next time I’m planning on halving the sugar amount and seeing how that goes. I also got a little heavy handed with the chilli flakes (they just look so sweet and not potent except they are actually a little bit potent) so I’ve got me a SPICY JAM, FRIENDS. It’s not really jam, though, it’s more like a… chutney relishy thingy.

You know what it definitely is, though? Delicious. After reading the suggestion of eating with a slab of soft cheese I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. It’s been haunting me all month. I couldn’t resist any longer. I think finding the perfect soft cheese up at my local deli didn’t help my resistance. Good grief, so tasty. So happy. It’s tomato season so people have tomatoes fit to burst, and I will be happy to take them off everyone’s hands if it means I can keep making this delightful treat. I want to eat this forever. I’m sure that will be ok. I think I’m gonna eat my leftovers over scrambled eggs for breakfast. Or dessert. Either way.

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