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Sweet Summer Sips: Gin Bucket Edition

If you've never had a gin bucket, then I sincerely apologize; you've definitely been missing out. This sweet, citrusy punch is a staple in my hometown, and it's the perfect recipe to whip up in the summertime. 

Before I moved to New York (and before I went to college in Missouri), I grew up in a small town in Southern Illinois near St. Louis called Mascoutah. Like most small towns, it is rich with tradition and history, especially when it comes to booze recipes.

Every year on the first full weekend of August, Mascoutah celebrates its biggest holiday of the year — Homecoming (not related to the homecomings of high school football games and collegiate tailgates). It's a three-day event in which friends and family from all over reunite in the town's Scheve Park for a weekend of fried fish sandwiches, carnival rides and lots and lots of drinking laughs.

Draught beer is served out of these metal buckets you see in the photos. Yes, the beer is poured directly into the buckets (you then pour the beer from the bucket into plastic cups; we're not complete animals!). But after the Friday and Saturday nights spent at the Bud Light and Miller Light tents, the buckets still serve a useful purpose; to hold your lemony-lime gin recipe known as Gin Bucket.


Gin Bucket Recipe


I was first introduced to a gin bucket during the Sunday afternoon of Homecoming weekend at my friend Nicki's house, and I haven't looked back. Not only is the metal pail the perfect vessel for such deliciousness (it frosts over and keeps the punch extra cool), but it makes serving it fun. For easier serving, use a large turkey baster to distribute the punch into individual cups. Pouring gin bucket + all the ice + the lemon and lime slices = disaster. 

Gin Bucket is usually made for large crowds, and requires an entire fifth of gin (and a much bigger bucket). I made a smaller batch since it was just me and a couple friends this weekend, but I highly recommend making big batches of this tasty beverage for your summer party.


Gin Bucket Recipe

Gin Bucket Recipe


The beauty of the gin bucket? You can customize it to your liking. I used Fresca because it's the superior diet soda, but you can use Sprite, 7-Up or your favorite lemon-lime soda. The standard recipes also typically call for lemonade and limeade concentrate, but I used San Pellegrino sparkling lemonade and fresh-squeezed lemon and lime juice to cut back on the sugar. Any gin will do; I used G'Vine Gin because it has a smooth, floral taste that complements the citrus really well.

So check out my recipe for the famed gin bucket below, which serves approximately 4-6 people. For larger groups, just double (or triple!) the ingredients. But please be sure to make it at least one time this weekend. I promise, once you go gin, it's always a win! 

  • 12 ounces of your favorite gin (I used G'Vine)
  • 20 ounces Fresca, or your favorite lemon-lime soda
  • 1 can San Pellegrino Limonata
  • 5 limes (2 to juice, 2 to cut into wheels, and 1 to cut up for garnish)
  • 2 lemons (1 to juice, 1 to cut into wheels)
  • 2 tablespoons simple syrup (optional for a sweeter beverage)
  • Lots and lots of ice!

Cut 1 lemon into wheels. Cut 2 limes into wheels. Set wheels aside. Juice two limes, and the remaining lemon.

Fill your bucket with ice. Add the gin, lemon slices and lime wheels. Then, pour in soda, limonata, lemon juice, lime juice and simple syrup. Stir it up nice and good with a big spoon.


Gin Bucket Recipe


Cut up remaining lime into wheels or slices for garnish. Fill cups with ice, and distribute gin bucket into each cup evenly via turkey baster. (If you don't have a turkey baster, a smaller cup to scoop the punch out is fine).


Serves: 4-6


Gin Bucket Recipe


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