Gin Cocktails with a Literary Twist

Celebrate World Gin Day with summer cocktails that give a nod to Jane Austen
Gin Austen Cocktail

Christopher Bain, Sterling Publishing

If you’ve ever been hiking in the mountains or an evergreen forest in summer, you can’t help but take in the delicious aroma of the trees as the warm sun brings out their essence. Similar elements go into making gin one of summer’s best refreshers—juniper berries.

While some people may bristle at the spirit’s “pineiness,” it’s this unique characteristic that makes gin, gin. Fans of this spirit have long known the refreshing kick it gives to summer cocktails. And, with additional botanicals or some of the newer, “milder” gins on the market that dial down the juniper, non-gin drinkers might enjoy giving it another try.

Gin’s ingredient list starts with a neutral grain spirit (usually wheat or barley), the essential juniper berries, and the bottler’s secret number of botanicals such as coriander, cassia bark, orange peel, and licorice. It comes in three styles: Genever, Plymouth, and London Dry. The Plymouth style and London Dry style are similar in flavor, but Plymouth is only made in Plymouth, England. London Dry refers to a style, not necessarily just a place of origin, and accounts for most of the gin on the market.

In addition to gin’s long-standing relationship with the Martini, it is also the base for many popular cocktails including the Tom Collins, Long Island Iced Tea, Gimlet, Ramos Fizz, Negroni, and of course, the Gin and Tonic, which is the quintessential summer drink.

There are also some fun new cocktails that raise a glass to the spirit in Gin Austen: 50 Cocktails to Celebrate the Novels of Jane Austen by Colleen Mullaney. In the book, Mullaney captures life in Regency England as did Jane Austen—but with a kick. In addition to the following gin-based cocktails from the book, you can whip up tipples with other spirit bases such as Just a Dashwood, a Brandon Old Fashioned, and Netherfield Punch.

In honor of World Gin Day, which is always on the second Saturday in June, it seemed the perfect time to spread the word about this fun new book that came across my desk. Much of Austen’s storytelling takes place at social engagements: picnics, luncheons, dinner parties, and glamorous balls that last well into the night, says Mullaney in the book. At these gatherings, gossip reigns, love flourishes, and drinks flow.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person in possession of a good book must be in want of a drink!

Gin Austen

Makes 1

Make this strong, attractive cocktail—possessed of enough sweetness and just the right amount of acidity—to celebrate the author of the incredible stories she gave us.

5 sage leaves
½ ounce lemon juice
2 ounces gin
2 ounces Lillet rosé (See note)
1 dash orange bitters

In a mixing glass, muddle four sage leaves with the lemon juice. Add the gin, Lilett rose, bitters, and ice. Stir well, and strain into a coupe. Garnish with the remaining safe leave, settle in, and read on.

Note: Lillet rosé is a fortified wine-based aperitif made from the Grand Cru Bordeaux grapes used for Lillet’s white and red versions, and then combined with fruit liqueurs.


Elinorange Blossom Cocktail

Christopher Bain, Sterling Publishing

Elinorange Blossom

Makes 1 | Sense and Sensibility

Rational and dependable, Elinor is the eldest Dashwood daughter and the most mature of her sisters. The anchor of her family, she exhibits steadfast sense in all she does and acts as a foil to her sister Marianne’s surplus of sensibility. When Elinor learns that Edward, her one true love, had betrothed himself to another years ago, heartbreak engulfs her, but she remains strong despite her aching disappointment. In the end, her loyalty wins the day, and unfettered love blossoms between Elinor and Edward.

1 ½ ounces Bombay Sapphire Gin
1 ½ ounces sweet vermouth
1 ½ ounces orange juice
sparkling wine
orange, for garnish (optional)

In a shaker filled with ice, pour the gin, vermouth, and orange juice, shake well, and strain into a coup. Top with sparkling wine, garnish, if you like, with an orange slice, and remember that true love triumphs in the end.


Lime-A-Rita Cocktail

Christopher Bain, Sterling Publishing


Makes 1 | Persuasion

Calamity strikes in a seaside town: The Musgrove girls decide to join Captain Wentworth on a short visit to his friends there, bringing Anne and the rest of their social circle. Anne befriends a couple of Captain Wentworth’s seafaring friends and imagines having been part of his life. Louisa Musgrove flirts with Wentworth, and, while the group goes for a walk, she theatrically leaps down a set of stairs with the intention that he romantically catch her. Instead, she falls and then falls unconscious, bringing an abrupt and catastrophic end to their brief holiday. Perhaps Wentworth failed to catch her because he wanted Anne in his arms. Make this Margarita just like the drama at Lyme: strong, salty, and on the rocks.

2 ounces gin
1 ounce Cointreau
1 ounce lime juice
1 ounce pineapple juice
lime, for garnish

Rim a margarita glass with salt, and set aside. In a shaker filled with ice, pour all liquid ingredients, shake well, and strain into the prepared margarita glass filled with ice. Garnish with a lime wheel, and look before you leap.

Recipes and photos from Gin Austen by Colleen Mullaney used with permission of Sterling Publishing.

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.