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 of the same name, 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.

Cocktail Ingredients

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

Gin: This is the base spirit. The recipe specifically calls for a Scottish gin, but we used Malfy Gin Originale for its crisp juniper flavor… and because Kendall said the bottle matched the photo. For a mocktail version of this drink, you can also try Lyre’s Dry London Spirit in place of the gin.

Pineapple Juice: This adds sweet and fruity pineapple flavor. We prefer fresh pineapple juice, but you can substitute canned juice if that’s easier than juicing an entire pineapple.

Lime Juice: This adds sour citrus flavors for balance. Again, we prefer to use fresh lime juice.

Simple Syrup: This is a sweetener made with sugar and water. You can buy bottled simple syrup in a store, but we made ours at home using Alex’s recipe because it tastes better fresh and is very easy to make.

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

Tonic Water: This stretches the drink and adds tonic water’s distinct quinine flavor. We chose to use Fitch & Leedes Indian Tonic Water (gifted) in this drink.

Pineapple Fronds: These are the garnish.

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.

Alex’s Take: ⭐⭐⭐
“This drink was pretty decent, but I think you need to be a gin and 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 and 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.

AuthorEasy TikiPrep Time5 minsRating

Ingredients
 2 oz Scottish Gin
 1 oz Pineapple Juice
 ¾ oz Lime Juice
 ¾ oz Homemade Simple Syrup
 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 ice to shaker.

4

Shake for 10-20 seconds.

5

Fine strain into a tiki mug filled with fresh crushed 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
 ¾ oz Homemade Simple Syrup
 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 ice to shaker.

4

Shake for 10-20 seconds.

5

Fine strain into a tiki mug filled with fresh crushed 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 Lyre’s Dry London Spirit in place of the gin to try a booze-free version of this drink.

Tools & Glassware We Recommend

More Tiki Cocktails

If you like this tiki 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

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