Preserved Lemon Sage Gin & Tonic

A full bodied botanical take on a classic Gin and Tonic.

Sage Gin and Tonic with Preserved Lemon

A gin and tonic used to be my signature cocktail. It's what I would always order. I had a lot of preconceived notions about how good a cocktail could be. A gin and tonic was hard to mess up. I thought a 'good' drink could only go so far. Until we met our mixology friend who basically eviscerated what I thought I knew about cocktails and enjoyed taking flavors I said I didn't like and proving me wrong. Now when I look at a cocktail I look far beyond a gin and tonic for specifics and balance of flavors. 

Cocktails should be balanced. A gin and tonic should be using a specific kind of gin for a specific kind of flavor profile (side by side even if you aren't a gin person, you'll be able to see that Hendricks is different than Tanqueray). And then there's tonic. If you think there's just one kind of tonic out there, you're wrong. Try Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic and have your mind blown. That's what we're recommending for today's recipe.  It blends essential oils from botanicals of Mediterranean shores and uses quinine from fever trees in the Eastern Congo. So beyond the fact that this sounds like the most ridiculously over descriptive tag in a hipster grocery store, it's important. And accurate. You can blow off sourcing ingredients like this if you want under the argument you're "not picky", or you could have the best flavor version that you can get your hands on. That concept alone- only going for the cocktails or desserts or pastries that are AMAZING and worth it-will be your friend. If you personally like the typical tonic more than this then by all means, go for it! If you like the croissants at Starbucks more than you like the croissants at the small French bakery your friends rave about, then tell them to shut up and enjoy your preferred pastry. Life is about choices and taking the time to find what fits your world. 

Sage Gin and Tonic with Preserved Lemon

Back to the recipe. I want to touch on salinity (how salty something is). Salt is an ingredient that, beyond a margarita, I didn't think was important in drinks. Now what I find most when we order a cocktail out is that the drinks are missing the salt balance. To counteract that in this recipe we infused the gin mixture with preserved lemons. They come in a jar in the international section of the grocery store and look amazing. I think that's what most homes in the 90's had in their kitchens on the counter (and maybe some peppers?) in those weird shaped jars as decor? Sometimes they were in a cluster next to the breadbox or sometimes they were on top of the cabinets. So in retrospect as an adult looking for the real thing, I think that was what was up with those jars back then...Does anyone else remember those?

Sage Gin and Tonic with Preserved Lemon

Methodology time: We used our sous vide machine to infuse the sage and preserved lemon flavor into the gin quickly. Most infusion methods for alcohol take several days. When we worked on the cranberry vodka recipe for the Cranberry Marketing Committee's Entertaining Guide, we used the traditional method of soaking the ingredient in a jar of alcohol for several days (if not at least a week!) and occasionally shaking it. There is nothing wrong with that method and you can completely do that. Using the sous vide just makes it happen in 2 hours.

We also went ahead and added simple syrup to the gin infusion so after the 2 hours were up, the jar could cool and you'll have batch cocktails ready to go. 

Sage Gin and Tonic with Preserved Lemon

full mix makes 6 drinks

/// Ingredients /// 

Drink Base

  • 375 mL gin (we used Blue Coat)
  • 4 T simple syrup
  • 1 preserved lemon, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 12 leaves fresh sage
  • 6 black peppercorns

Individual Cocktail : 1 part gin mix, 2 parts tonic (Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic recommended)

/// Directions /// Add gin, simple syrup, lemon, sage and peppercorns to a jar with a lid. Submerge in a sous vide water bath at 140 F for 2 hours. Use a bowl or something heavy to keep the jar submerged completely. To make without a sous vide, place ingredients in a jar and shake. Place in fridge for 2 days, shaking occasionally. In both methods after infusion is complete, strain and return liquid to a sealed container.

To mix cocktail add 1 part gin mix to 2 parts tonic. Stir and garnish with sage. 

Sage Gin and Tonic with Preserved Lemon

Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.