How do you feel towards oranges? (When was the last time you actually thought about oranges?) I’ve been thinking about them quite a lot recently. Not only have I been making marmalade with them, but in an effort to stop snacking on my way home from work I started having what my charming colleagues now refer to as ‘the 4 o’clock orange’. So far so orange-y, but there is also something even better than a 4 o’clock orange – orange and grapefruit gin.
The pairing of gin and citrus fruits is pretty famous (who doesn’t love a slice of lime in their gin and tonic?) and owes a lot to the blend of botanicals that have been used in gins for a long time. Juniper and citrus fruits combine really well, as do things like cinnamon, cardamon and other such delights that distillers use.
A while back I was thinking it was time for a winter-banishing gin. Something that was bright, vibrant, and tasted of summer. This is where the idea of citrus came from. In my head – and possibly yours too? – they are fruits that are all about summer (have you seen their colours?), but actually many of them are more in season in January/February than in July. It seems like the perfect blend of making it feel like summer whilst actually being reasonably seasonal (even if imported).
It could have been orange, but I’ve actually made a Seville orange gin before, and I was also drinking a local gin recently which you garnish with grapefruit. Grapefruit only usually appears on this blog in relation to it being my favourite French word – pamplemousse! – but why, if it can garnish a gin, can it also not be a flavour in it? A purely grapefruit gin doesn’t really appeal all that much to me, but combining it with the original idea of oranges, well it turns out that is a winning combination.
This gin has the slight sweetness of the orange, the bitterness of the grapefruit and some botanicals, all of which make it a really drinkable combination. Looking at this bottle just makes it seem like it’s sunny and summer, but in reality it can be any time of the year you happen to have a bottle of it.
Orange and grapefruit gin
My orange and grapefruit gin is based on the same recipe I used for my Seville orange gin. It makes approximately 700ml of gin. I also tend to use my 1 litre spring-lid jar for making gins – it lets you see the fruit and the gin taking on its colour.
2 large Seville oranges
1/2 a large grapefruit
50g caster sugar
Pour about 150ml of your gin into the jar – roughly, it doesn’t need to be an exact measurement – and then add your sugar in on top. Seal the jar and swirl/shake it to dissolve the sugar. If it doesn’t all dissolve, pour in some more gin and repeat.
Slice your oranges and grapefruit. I do mine into circles and then slice those circles in half to expose the most flesh. Add these into the jar along with the remaining gin, seal and shake – this will bash out some of the juice and allow everything to mix together.
Store the jar in a cool dark place and leave for two weeks to infuse, shaking every couple of days as you pass.
When it’s ready – the colour will be stronger – line a sieve with muslin/kitchen roll/coffee filter and place it over a jug. Pour the contents of the jar into the sieve and let them drain through naturally. Decant the gin into a pre-sterilised bottle and seal.
Serve with ice and tonic, with a spiral of orange peel (if you’re feeling like a master mixologist).
In this recipe, I used: