Gin is probably one of the most polarizing liquors out there. People tend to either love it or hate it. I absolutely adore it. I even love the way it smells. To be sure, I come by it naturally enough – my father, in the classic, old-school tradition, definitely appreciated a good martini. But come summer, the go-to drink was always the G & T – gin and tonic – with a slice of lime, of course.
As far as I’m concerned, a G & T is the quintessential summer cocktail. The heady, juniper liquor combined with several splashes of oh-so refreshing tonic in a tall, ice-filled glass, a little half-moon slice of lime on the rim – is there anything more ideal for simultaneously quenching your thirst while catching a little buzz on a warm summer day? I don’t believe there is.
Now, while I generally eschew the whole “designer label” game, I have to admit that I do prefer a good (read expensive) gin. Early in my gin-drinking career, it was always the British classic Tanqueray – delicious! More recently, I’ve been known to enjoy a little Bombay Sapphire (love that blue bottle), Tanqueray Rangpur (really love the little kick of lime) and most recently Tanqueray 10 (perfection! – maybe that’s why they call it 10?) And I hear Hendrick’s distills a pretty tasty gin too.
But as much as I try to avoid the designer labels, I’m an absolute sucker if you put the word “craft” or “artisanal” in front of anything. Craft gin? Sure, here’s my wallet, take as much as you want. The local brewery, the award-winning Dogfish Head, now distills its own Jin, and I can’t wait to give it a try. The fact that they spell it with a “J” instead of a “G” only makes me want to try it even more. No seriously, like I said, total sucker. And Bluecoat American Gin, an organic craft gin distilled just up the road in Philadelphia, is also on my must-try list. Organic and craft? I’ll give you the passcode to my 401K.
But I wondered, would my favorite summer beverage translate into a cupcake? I had to find out. I decided to start with the Tanqueray Rangpur, with its little extra kick of lime. There weren’t a whole lot of recipes to work with, a few from Great Britain, but they like their cakes a little spongier than we do here in the States. I finally found an interesting recipe that I adapted from How Sweet Eats. And you know what? They were good! The cupcake has a nice, denser crumb, which is brushed with a gin glaze and topped with a lime-infused gin and tonic buttercream. These were quite tasty, especially the second day, when the flavors had a chance to sit together for a bit.
So give them a try. When purchasing your gin, think about picking up a little more than you need for the recipe. Because on a warm summer evening, there’s nothing like enjoying a little G & T on the deck while waiting for the cupcakes to bake. Trust me, I know.
GIN AND TONIC CUPCAKES
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 tablespoons lime zest
1/4 cup gin
1/4 cup milk
juice from 1 lime
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cupcake pans with paper liners.
In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt – set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter. Add sugar and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each.
Add in vanilla and zest.
Combine gin, milk and lime juice in a small bowl or measuring cup – set aside.
Add half of flour to butter mixture at low speed just until no flour streaks remain. Add wet ingredients. Slowly add remaining flour mixture until just combined.
Scoop 1/3 cup of batter into each liner. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
2-5 tablespoons gin ( I used 2, but would probably go up to 3 or 4 next time)
juice from one lime
Whisk together all glaze ingredients. While cupcakes are cooling, poke several holes in the cupcakes. Brush the glaze over the tops of each cupcake. I had enough glaze to do each twice. Remove cupcakes to rack to cool completely.
GIN AND TONIC BUTTERCREAM
10 tablespoons salted butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons gin, or to taste
2 tablespoons tonic
lime zest for garnish
Cream butter. Add powdered sugar, gin and tonic, on low until combined, then at high speed until fluffy.
Frost cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with lime zest.