Improved Saffron Gin Cocktail Recipe

Dec 1, 2011 6:01 pm

Like an Old Fashioned. But better.

Photo: Clay Williams
Photo: Clay Williams
After one sip you won't mind the yellow color at all.

Gin is a spirit that is rooted in spice, with, naturally, juniper being the main focus. However, many popular gin cocktails seem to take the focus away from the botanical nature of this spirit, and instead focus on the citrus and sweeteners. For a recent dinner party event focusing on spice recipes, I aimed to create a stirred gin cocktail that would feature the spirit prominently, but would still be accessible to everyone in the room. The idea of infusing with saffron came to mind — and while it is certainly not a new concept (dating back to the 19th century), many people today would expect Saffron to appear in their risotto, rather than their drink. 

To make it a cocktail for a recent Midnight Brunch dining event, I needed to include something sweet and a lemon-cardamom syrup (inspired by the Nehru cocktail created by Scott Holliday at the Rendezvous Bar in Boston) sounded excellent, in addition to a small amount of Maraschino cherry liqueur. Adding Peychaud's bitters and oils from an orange twist seemed to tie everything together.

When presented in rocks glass, suddenly this dry gin-based cocktail starts to drink like an Old Fashioned, something most people can appreciate. The color may be off-putting at first, but the unique flavors certainly draws one in. I am sure experimenting with other spice combinations for a sweetening syrup, playing off the natural botanicals found in gin, such as coriander, cloves, cinnamon, anise, almond, black pepper, etc...could also be delicious.

Servings: 1 cocktail


2 ounces Bull Dog Gin (infused with saffron)
1/4 ounce Maraschino liqueur
1/4 ounce lemon oil and cardamom syrup
2 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
orange twist, to garnish

To Infuse the Gin

  1. Add a decent pinch of saffron threads to a bottle of Bulldog Gin and let them sit for a few days (every once in while give it a shake to make sure it doesn't settle).
  2. Strain out the threads to end up with a somewhat savory and subtly aromatic gin infusion, that just happens to be an odd yellow color.  

To Make the Syrup

  1. Boil lemon peels with mashed up cardamom seeds in a simple syrup bath for about 20 minutes.  

To Make the Cocktail

  1. Build ingredients (bitters first, then modifiers, then gin) in an ice-filled glass and stir vigorously (achieving a 25% dilution level).
  2. Strain quickly into a rocks glass (with an ice cube or two) and garnish with a orange twist.
Level of Difficulty: 
Prep Time: 
15 minutes plus time for infusing the gin
Cooking Time: 
20 minutes
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