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Happy summer everyone! Time for swimming, summer trips, backyard bbq’s, et cetera et cetera.

Don’t get me wrong, despite the tone of the first sentence, I adore summer. I love the sun. I love the heat. I love being outside. If only work didn’t get in the way so much. Sigh.

Anyway! Speaking of backyard BBQs, my friend just had BBQ party for his birthday. And, of course, my first thought was “Ooh! What kind of fun dessert could I bring??”

Gin and Tonic Cupcakes 2

Because I love a good baking challenge, I decided to make cupcakes based on my friends favorite drink: the classic Gin and Tonic.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t exactly thrilled about a G&T cupcake. I hate gin. I really hate gin. The first time I had a sip I felt like I was licking a pine tree. I love the fresh smell of pine, but, as a drink, I just found it unpalatable. Also, I may be slightly allergic to gin, if that’s possible. I’m allergic to pine nuts, so maybe there’s something about the oils? I’ll spare you the details, but the only two times I’ve ever had a gin-based drink did not end well for me….

This cake recipe actually comes from one of my all time favorite blogs, How Sweet It Is. Her recipes are so creative. This is only the first recipe that I’ve attempted from her blog, but I’ve been dying to try her Cannoli Tart. Seriously though, cannoli tart. Utter genius.

Gin and Tonic Cupcakes 4

Her sheet cake is definitely loaded with gin: gin cake with gin glaze and gin icing. Which seemed like…well a little too much gin for me. So I made a few alterations when designing my cupcakes. I made the cake and gin glaze more or less to her specifications (though I substituted some of the milk for tonic water), but I forwent the gin icing and opted for a St. Germain and Tonic Water Whipped Frosting. After all, it is supposed to be a gin and tonic cake, not just gin. As for the St. Germain (an elderflower liquor), well, why the hell not?

Oh, I promised to tell you how to fix a “broken” frosting. Have you ever made frosting ahead of time, only to find that it had separated in to a chunky, soupy, liquidy mess?  Well, yea, neither had I, until I made these cupcakes. I made the frosting a few days in advance and refrigerated it until the day of the party. I pulled my frosting out to let it come back to room temperature and, when I came back, it looked like something akin to old cottage cheese. It was…in a word, disgusting.

I was distraught. I ran to my laptop and began to furiously research “Can I save a broken buttercream frosting?” And you know what? You can! And its stupidly easy! Want to know the secret? Well, two secrets really: 1) Let the frosting warm completely to room temperature. Not almost room temperature. Not still slightly cold. Room temp. 2) And this is the real “secret”. Beat the crap out of it. Seriously. Just throw it back in to your mixer and beat it on medium-high until it looks normal again. It doesn’t seem like it should but it really does work.

Gin and Tonic Cupcakes 3

So despite my frosting near-catastrophe, these cupcakes turned out amazing. The gin flavor wasn’t as strong as I expected (though others told me they could definitely taste it), but the flavors of lime, gin and elderflower melded well in to a light, but flavorful treat. Perfect for summer :).

Gin and Tonic Cupcakes with St. Germain Frosting (adapted from G&T Cake)

Makes 24 cupcakes


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 Tb lime zest
  • 1/4 cup gin
  • 2 Tb milk
  • 3 Tb tonic water
  • 1 1/2 Tb fresh lime juice
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, or in a stand mixer bowl, beat butter and sugar until white and creamy, 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat briefly after each egg. Mix in vanilla and lime zest.
  5. Add about half of the dry ingredients and mix gently.
  6. Add gin, milk, tonic water, and lime juice and mix until just barely combined.
  7. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Batter will be thick!
  8. Spoon about 1/3 cup batter in to 24 pre-lined cupcake wells. Bake in preheated oven 24-26 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  9. While cupcakes are still warm, poke holes all over the tops of each cupcake with a skewer. Spoon Gin Glaze over each cupcake. Try to get the glaze in to the poked holes.
  10. Let cool completely and frost with St. Germain Frosting.

Gin Glaze

  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3-4 Tb gin
  1. Whisk powdered sugar with 3 Tb gin until glaze forms. If glaze seems too thick, add an additional tablespoon of gin and whisk.

St. Germain Frosting (adapted from The Best Frosting)

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tb St. Germain or other elderflower liquor
  • 2 Tb tonic water
  • 1/2 Tb lime juice
  • 1 cup butter, room temp
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • Zest of one lime
  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk milk and together flour. Heat over medium and stir continuously until mixture thickens, about 7 minutes. It should look like a thick batter.
  2. Whisk in St. Germain, tonic water and lime juice. Let cool completely!
  3. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat butter and granulated sugar until fluffy and white, 3-5 minutes. The sugar should be well incorporated and no longer gritty.
  4. Once the milk and flour mixture has cooled, add it to the butter and sugar mixture. Beat on high for 1 minute until frosting is smooth and very fluffy.
  5. Add in lime zest and beat for another 20 seconds.

*NOTE* The limes that you see in the picture came from this candied lime recipe. Though they turned out really pretty, I was not happy with them. The rind was pretty tough and nearly inedible. I did taste so I would try making them again but I would significantly lengthen the simmer time. 15 minutes simply is not correct. Next time I’ll try at least 45 minutes.