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Fig Leaf Gin

Fig Leaf Gin

It might sound a little odd, but this is a heavenly liqueur that’s well worth the small effort. Fig leaves are easy to find over the back fences in summer, particularly if you do the smart thing and live in a suburb of Melbourne that’s been a Greek and Italian stronghold for generations. And nobody will mind if you take a few leaves.

I’ve (slightly) adapted a recipe published by Beshlie Grimes in ‘Making Wines Liqueurs and Cordials’; she says she had it from a Portuguese friend. She mixes hers with pineapple juice and ice but I much prefer it made strong, aged, and drunk neat.

Things I’ve learned about this liqueur over the past few years :

  • Don’t be afraid to go bold. Use big leaves. Boil it hard as directed, and squeeze the leaves out when it’s cool. The strongest version I ever made was a grassy shade of green, tasted far too strong when first made, and won a first prize in a local show. Pale yellow versions seemed better at first, but tasted wimpy down the track.
  • Age it. Beshlie asks for a month. Six months is great, two years is heaven, I’ve never got any further than that! Make a lot and stick it away somewhere. The first time around, I’d recommend sticking to one recipe – then when you’re confident, quadruple it.


  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (375ml) water
  • 7 large fig leaves, washed
  • 1 1/2 cups (375ml) dry gin. Not terrible gin: not your most ethereally fragranced gin either. The flavour of the gin will come through, but as a background bass note. A good whack of juniper is great – light floral notes will be lost. I tend to go with Gordon’s.


  • Clean a funnel and a 750ml bottle.
  • Put the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add the fig leaves and bring to a rolling boil. Leave it there for 15-20 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. With clean hands, squeeze and discard the fig leaves.
  • Decant the syrup into a 750ml bottle and add the gin. Top up slightly with water if it doesn’t fill the bottle.

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5 thoughts on “Fig Leaf Gin”

  • Just wondering if it matters what type of fig tree the leaves come from? The tree I have access to grows green figs as opposed to the purple ones.
    Thanks, Erin

    • Hi Erin, so far I’ve never noticed any huge difference between varieties, just that mature leaves seem to do better as the flavour is more pronounced. I just use the leaves that are on my tree, which is a Preston Prolific. Happy liqueur making, I’d love to hear how you go!

  • Hi. Thanks for the recipe. I’ve been using it for a couple of years with leaves from my Black Mission Fig tree. Delicious! You are right that late season leaves have significantly more flavor. This year, I tried a combo of partially dried (a few days) and freshly picked leaves. The flavor is amazing! The dried leaves bring some tannins which are really delightful. As I was bottling it last night, I got overwhelmingly delicious scents of cinnamon and anise. YUM!

    • Hi Julie, thanks for letting me know that it’s going well, I’m so glad this recipe has been a keeper for you! I have never tried using dried leaves before, I must run an experimental batch sometime soon. The leaves on my Preston Prolific are green and it’s hard to wait until they are really mature.

  • Hi, thanks for the recipie! I’ve been researching different figleaf liqueur recipes and would be interested to have your feedback! I infused in vodka for 4 days and strained, and then combined with a syrup that was made by leaving the simple syrup over the chopped leaves at 50C for 7 hours and then squeezing out all the syrup. I didn’t want to cook the leaves, because it changed the smell and flavor quite a bit vs. the smell of fresh fig leaves (it slightly smelled like when you leave a chamomile tea bag out for a day). Now I am 3 weeks into the aging process, and it is getting that kind of gross smell, almost with some acrid notes. Is this something that will go away as it ages? Did you ever notice any changes like that?

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