I didn’t used to believe in bay leaves. Though I felt contractually obligated to put them in all stews, soups, and (most) rice dishes, it wasn’t until I conducted this very important piece of investigative journalism that I began to truly value and cherish them. When I saw the “bay leaf martini” on the cocktail menu at Barr — you know, the place with the caviar waffle — I knew I had to have it, and I knew I would be making bay leaf gin at home.
Bay leaf gin, as it turns out, is extremely easy to make if you have a sous-vide setup. You just need fresh bay leaves (I found they give the cleanest, freshest flavour), London dry gin, and a sealable glass jar. If you don’t have an immersion circulator, you can just let it all hang out at room temperature for a couple of weeks, but a sous-vide system really speeds up the process.
Bay leafs provided a bracing hint of camphor and eucalyptus without obscuring the juniper, resulting in an invigorating spirit that makes the perfect base for an unexpected martini. To make it, you will need:
170ml London dry gin
2 large or 3 small fresh bay leaves
Set your sous-vide circulator to 80C and let the water come to temperature. In the meantime, add both ingredients to a mason jar (or other sealable glass jar) and close it so it is finger-tight. Add the jar to the bath, and let it hang out for 20 minutes.
Once 20 minutes has elapsed, remove the leaves, let the gin cool to room temperature, then place it in the fridge or freezer to fully chill. Use as you would any other gin.