How to Make Citrus Gins

Winter is the time for citrus in every shade, from lemon chiffon to saffron mandarins, tangerines, Moro blood oranges, kumquats and tiny key limes. To my delight, I managed to get my hands on some Meyer lemons recently, a less acidic variety, with a sherbet tangerine kick – they hail from California. Any of these citrus fruits would work well in this gin, but I’ve used my favourite of all, the bergamot.

The heady bergamot orange is a fragrant citrus that grows in France and Italy. It looks like a squat green lemon. Its juice is more acidic than lemon but its peel is uplifting – it has a deeper, almost woody citrus scent. I adore it. You can also buy bergamot lemons which look like a traditional lemon but taste sweeter, with a more orange skin; I like to use the greener bergamot oranges as they have more of the floral lemony notes I love, but both work. I have made a pretty pink-tinged blood orange version too.

I make this in a similar way to limoncello, with some added sugar, so it’s sweeter than regular gin, meaning you can drink it straight over ice or in a gin and tonic.


6 bergamots
500ml good gin
300g golden caster sugar

Peel long strips of rind from the bergamots using a vegetable peeler, taking care not to use too much of a heavy hand, otherwise you’ll end up with a lot of bitter pith.

Place the peel in the bottom of a lidded clean glass jar or bottle and add the gin, using a funnel if it’s easier. Leave in a dark place for the flavours to develop; this can take from 1–3 weeks. Generally, once the peel has turned white, all its flavour has been infused.

Once your gin has had its steeping time you are ready to mix it with the sugar syrup. Put the sugar and 300ml of cold water into a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil, allowing all the sugar to dissolve, then simmer for a further 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Strain the gin into a jug, then add about the same volume of sugar syrup and taste it, adding a little more to taste – the more sugar the smoother the flavour.

Pour the gin into sterilised bottles and secure with a top. It will keep for years, although it’s unlikely to last that long.

IMAGES: Anna Jones

Posted: 30.11.17 8 Comments


Posted by Zuza Zak at 11:49 on the 18.12.17

In Poland we have lots of flavoured vodkas to soothe all ailments – these gins must have health boosting properties too 😉

Posted by jill at 1:25 on the 15.04.18

can u give me the recipe f0r blood orange gin please

Posted by Rebecca at 11:29 on the 29.11.18

I made some of this, but steeped the bergamot peel for 12 months! (Using the same principle as making sloe gin – the longer the better). The peels went white so I thought it was ready. The gin without sugar added tastes very perfumey and unpleasant. I’ve never had bergamot gin so I don’t know what flavour I’m shooting for, but should I be aiming for a much more subtle bergamot flavour? Is it stewed?

Any idea how to rescue what I have? Dilute it with more gin? Add lots of sugar? Use a dab behind my ears on nights out? Help! 🙂

Posted by Anna at 2:06 on the 03.12.18

Hello Rebecca. Ah bad luck! Bergamot is a very fragrant flavour which is why I usually only steep for a week or so. All may not be lost though – I’d try and dilute a small amount with more unsteeped gin, and plenty of tonic. Give it a taste and see how you get on.

Posted by Anita Veritay at 3:49 on the 20.03.19

Might be too late to suggest to Rebecca as above, but maybe next time someone will try EATING the gin-soaked rinds. Yes, the rinds! Here’s my experience: a dear friend gave me the most exquisite Meyer lemons, and as each one was juiced, I still wanted to use every bit of every lemon, so I froze the rinds initially thinking about making a candied lemon rind. But no, that was not to be! One day, not wanting the rinds to get freezer burn, I shoved all of them into a large canning jar full of good gin and left them on the shelf for months. Well! Let me tell you that if your taste buds are like mine you will love gin-soaked citrus rinds. But please make sure they are organic or grown without pesticides in the best soil possible.

Posted by Susan at 8:18 on the 07.04.19

Hi – I made this gin a month ago with some good organic lemons shipped direct from Spain and cheap French gin.
Just tried it and I have to admit it’s delicious. Must make another batch before I use up all the lemons in some marmalade.
Best regards, Susan

Posted by Sara at 6:53 on the 15.11.19

Any suggestions on doing this with kumquats. Would one use the whole thing or ? (I’m just trying to imagine peeling those lil guys)
We have a tree in our apartment building and no one picks them but me-was thinking I could make some to share with the neighbors. 🙂

Posted by Víctoria Moore at 12:32 on the 06.12.19

Same amounts for Grapefruits?

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