Gunga Din

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Cocktail History

The Gunga Din* is a modern cocktail that was created by St. John Frizell at Fort Defiance in New York City, New York. Inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s literary work, the recipe is a clever tiki-inspired variation of the classic Gin & Tonic that features all of the same ingredients of the original plus a couple of wild cards, such as Scottish gin and cardamom pods, which are native to India and offer a unique herbal twist.

*A note about the name: We are aware of the racist and imperialist nature of Rudyard Kipling’s poem and would never want anyone to interpret our publishing of this recipe as our condoning of either. We don’t know the true intention this cocktail’s creator had when choosing its name, but our understanding when reading the description of the drink is that it was meant to honor the character Gunga Din, not promote the obvious racism and colonialism of the British Empire depicted by Kipling.

Cocktail Ingredients

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Scottish Gin: This is a spirit made in Scotland with juniper berries, botanicals, and alcohol. The recipe specifically calls for a Scottish gin, but we used Malfy Gin Originale because it has a crisp botanical flavor. For a mocktail version of this drink, try MONDAY Zero Alcohol Gin in place of the gin.

Pineapple Juice: This is the liquid juice of a pineapple. We used freshly squeezed pineapple juice.

Lime Juice: This is the liquid juice of a lime. We used freshly squeezed lime juice.

Simple Syrup: This is a sweetener made with white sugar and water. We made ours at home using Alex’s stovetop recipe.

Cardamom Pods: This is a spice native to India that is made from the seeds of several plants. We used cardamom pods from the bulk spice section at our local grocery store.

Tonic Water: This is a carbonated water that has been infused with quinine. We used Fitch & Leedes Indian Tonic Water.

Pineapple Fronds: This the leaf of a pineapple.

Bartending Tools

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following bar tools:

Jigger: This is used to measure and pour ingredients. We used the Japanese jigger from the A Bar Above 14-Piece Silver Bar Set.

Boston Shaker: This is used to shake ingredients. We used the Boston shaker from the A Bar Above 14-Piece Silver Bar Set.

Hawthorne Strainer: This is used to strain out ice and solid ingredients after the cocktail is shaken. We used the A Bar Above Hawthorne Strainer.

Chef’s Knife: This is used to cut larger fruits and vegetables into slices for the garnish. We used the OXO Good Grips 8-Inch Chef’s Knife.

Pineapple Corer: This is used to remove the core of the pineapple before it’s juiced. We used the OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Pineapple Corer.

Paring Knife: This is used to cut ingredients. We used the OXO Good Grips 3.5 Inch Paring Knife.

Juicer: This is used to juice citrus, fruits, and vegetables. We used the ALEEHAI Manual Fruit Juicer for the citrus and the Hamilton Beach Large Juicer for the pineapple.

Tasting Notes

The Gunga Din begins with faint pineapple aromas and has a taste that features plenty of herbal gin and sour tonic along with the sweetness of pineapple, and it has an aftertaste that highlight’s tonic’s bitterness juxtaposed with pineapple and emboldened with some cardamom earthiness.

Our Opinion of This Cocktail Recipe: Despite it being an extremely interesting take on a Gin & Tonic, neither of us thought the Gunga Din stood out as much as some other tikis we’ve tried have, especially since the muddled cardamom didn’t add the amount of flavor we expected. That said, if you’re already a fan of the classic, do yourself a favor and try this version, preferably while reciting old Victorian poetry.

Which of our palates is yours most like?
Find out if your palate is most similar to Alex’s or Kendall’s by answering five questions.

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Which of our palates is yours most like?
Find out if your palate is most similar to Alex’s or Kendall’s by answering five questions.

Take Our Quiz →

Alex’s Take: ⭐⭐⭐
“This drink was pretty decent, but I think you need to be a Gin & Tonic lover in order to appreciate it. Essentially, it’s a tiki-fied version of that, with the added flavor and sweetness of pineapple to accent and some crushed up cardamom to give it some savory notes. While I didn’t personally get a lot from the addition of cardamom, the drink itself is decent, but I would consider a Gin & Tonic before I would really call it a tiki staple.”

Kendall’s Take: ⭐⭐
“I was intrigued to see a tiki-fied Gin & Tonic style drink, but I was skeptical that I’d like this one from the start because I’m not a big fan of tonic water’s bitter quinine flavor in general. This recipe does a pretty good job of dressing up the template: the pineapple is there to sweeten it up and the cardamom added an interesting hint of flavor. That said, I didn’t love this one. It’s classic tiki templates all the way for me, I guess!”

Recipe

This cocktail recipe was adapted from Easy Tiki: A Modern Revival with 60 Recipes by Chloe Frechette.

Sale
Easy Tiki: A Modern Revival with 60 Recipes
Easy Tiki: A Modern Revival with 60 Recipes
Hardcover Book; Frechette, Chloe (Author); English (Publication Language); 176 Pages – 05/12/2020 (Publication Date) – Ten Speed Press (Publisher)
$11.39 Amazon Prime

AuthorEasy Tiki

Yields1 ServingPrep Time5 mins

Ingredients
 2 oz Scottish Gin
 1 oz Pineapple Juice
 ¾ oz Lime Juice
 ½ oz Passion Fruit Syrup
 3 Cardamom Pods
 1 oz Tonic Water
 2 Pineapple Fronds
 1 Pineapple Wedge

Method
1

Add cardamom pods and simple syrup to a shaker.

2

Muddle gently for 5-7 seconds.

3

Add gin, pineapple juice, lime juice, and cubed ice to shaker.

4

Shake for 10-20 seconds.

5

Fine strain into a tiki mug filled with fresh cracked ice.

6

Top with tonic water.

7

Stir gently for 5-7 seconds.

8

Garnish with pineapple fronds and pineapple wedge.

Ingredients

Ingredients
 2 oz Scottish Gin
 1 oz Pineapple Juice
 ¾ oz Lime Juice
 ½ oz Passion Fruit Syrup
 3 Cardamom Pods
 1 oz Tonic Water
 2 Pineapple Fronds
 1 Pineapple Wedge

Directions

Method
1

Add cardamom pods and simple syrup to a shaker.

2

Muddle gently for 5-7 seconds.

3

Add gin, pineapple juice, lime juice, and cubed ice to shaker.

4

Shake for 10-20 seconds.

5

Fine strain into a tiki mug filled with fresh cracked ice.

6

Top with tonic water.

7

Stir gently for 5-7 seconds.

8

Garnish with pineapple fronds and pineapple wedge.

Gunga Din

Make It a Mocktail: Use MONDAY Zero Alcohol Gin in place of the gin to try a booze-free version of this drink.

Shop Glassware & Tools

Find collections of cocktail glassware and bartending tools we recommend for your home bar in our Amazon shop.

Anchor Hocking Screaming Tiki Glasses,470 milliliters
Anchor Hocking Screaming Tiki Glasses,470 milliliters
Set of two 16 ounce glasses; Glasses are approximately 6 1/4″ tall and 3″ wide; Commercial grade heavy duty Glassware from Anchor Hocking Company
$13.80 Amazon Prime
Sale
Libbey Classic Tiki Statue Rocks Glass, 16-ounce, Set of 4
Libbey Classic Tiki Statue Rocks Glass, 16-ounce, Set of 4
Tiki statue design pays homage to tiki bar culture of the 1950s and ’60s; Includes 4, 16-ounce rocks glasses (3.5-inch diameter by 6.4-inch height)
$8.05
OXO Good Grips 8 Inch Chef's Knife
OXO Good Grips 8 Inch Chef’s Knife
Contoured handle design provides control while chopping and cutting; Soft, comfortable handle ensures a safe, non-slip grip, even when wet
OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Pineapple Corer & Slicer,Silver/Black
OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Pineapple Corer & Slicer,Silver/Black
Cores and slices whole pineapples quickly and easily; Measurement markings help prevent piercing the bottom of the shell
$22.97 Amazon Prime
Sale
Hamilton Beach Juicer Machine, Big Mouth Large 3” Feed Chute for Whole Fruits and Vegetables, Easy to Clean, Centrifugal Extractor, BPA Free, 800W Motor, Black
Hamilton Beach Juicer Machine, Big Mouth Large 3” Feed Chute for Whole Fruits and Vegetables, Easy to Clean, Centrifugal Extractor, BPA Free, 800W Motor, Black
Source: Circana/Retail Tracking Service, US Unit Sales, 12 Months Ending May 2024.; CUP NOT INCLUDED
$52.49 Amazon Prime
OXO Good Grips 3.5 Inch Pairing Knife,Black/Silver,3-1/2-Inch
OXO Good Grips 3.5 Inch Pairing Knife,Black/Silver,3-1/2-Inch
Sturdy, stainless steel blade; Soft, comfortable, non-slip handle ensures a safe grip; Hand wash with warm, soapy water and promptly dry
$12.99 Amazon Prime

More Tiki Cocktails

If you like this tiki-inspired cocktail recipe, here are a few others we’ve tried that you may enjoy:

Donga Punch Cocktail Recipe

Donga Punch: A rhum agricole cocktail made with Don’s mix, lime juice, a grapefruit twist, a cinnamon stick, and an orchid blossom

Something Tequila Cocktail Recipe

Something Tequila: A tequila cocktail made with pineapple juice, orange juice, lime juice, simple syrup, passion fruit syrup, a lime slice, a mint sprig, and edible flowers

Ginger Inferno Cocktail Recipe

Ginger Inferno: A rum cocktail made with ginger liqueur, velvet falernum liqueur, lime juice, lemon juice, cinnamon syrup, a lime slice, and candied ginger

Cobra's Fang Cocktail Recipe

Cobra’s Fang: A rum cocktail made with orange juice, lime juice, passion fruit syrup, Swedish punsch, grenadine, absinthe, pineapple fronds, and a snake-shaped orange peel

This post contains affiliate links, meaning we make a small commission each time you purchase a product using our links. Product images sourced from Amazon Product Advertising API. Amazon affiliate links last updated on 2024-07-17.

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