Gin is surely a polarizing spirit as longtime Gin drinkers are often dug-in for their preferred style while far to many cocktail drinkers are Ginphobic. In my years of writing Gin features for various publications in addition to BevX I have received the confession of many bartenders who admitted to sneaking Gin in the cocktails of patron who had indicated an aversion to the spirit.
While we have greatly overcome fears regarding Tequila, the fear of Gin still remains with many. But why? Certainly Gin is often boldly flavored and strong flavors will create strong reactions. Also, Gin is often bottled at a higher proof making it more potent than the typical Vodka or Rum. Couple the higher proof with the fact that on a warm day the ubiquitous Gin & Tonic will go down like lemonade. Any spirit when over-consumed will trigger a swift negative reaction.
So how do we convert these Ginphobic drinkers into Gin curious? Perhaps it all starts with the right Gins and the right cocktails. Below see a list of Gins that we strongly recommend followed by three Gin cocktails that are sure to please the most strident Gin hater. Read our full Gin feature here.
Here is our short list of highly recommended Gins.
Grand Traverse Distillery Small Batch Botanical Gin
Most of the craft Gins need some work in my view while this Gin is ready for prime-time. The Peninsula Gin is created with the Grand Traverse Wheat Vodka as a base that is then infused with juniper, orange peel, lemon peel, angelica root, coriander, and grains of paradise. The soak (infusion) takes place over 24 hours in 100 proof wheat Vodka with the botanicals being stirred every few hours. The infused spirit then goes through a gentle distillation before being bottled at 90 proof. I have learned that close to 40 different Gin recipes were tried before discovering their ideal formula. $35 – See the full feature here.
Frey Ranch Gin
This stylish Gin is made with a blend of three grains (presented in order of quantity) rye, barley, and corn. All of the grains are grown on the estate. All steps from milling, fermenting, distilling, and bottling are done on the Frey Ranch property (just like the Vodka). Two botanicals are also grown on the ranch: juniper (Gin’s essential spice) and sagebrush. The homegrown botanicals are joined by coriander, angelica root, cardamon, lemon peel, and orange peel sourced from the rest of the globe. Now that’s craft. It’s bottled at 90 proof to best showcase the decadent spirit and bright botanicals. $29.99 – See the full feature here.
Caorunn Small Batch Scottish Gin
I’m a longtime fan of Caorunn (pronounced – ka-roon) and I love seeing it on the backbar as I then know that the buyer is tuned in. It features 11 botanicals including five wild-foraged Highland botanicals: rowan berry (or Caorunn in old Scottish Gaelic), bog myrtle, heather, Coul blush apple, and dandelion leaf. The base spirit is not just a vehicle for the botanicals as its silky smooth texture and soft edges make it an ideal sipper. If you are a Gin lover this needs to be in your bar. $35 – See the full feature here.
Fords London Dry Gin
The Fords Gin is created at the prolific Gin specialist Thames Distillery by a collaboration of Master Distillery Charles Maxwell and Simon Ford of The 86 Co. Nine botanicals seamlessly marry in the Fords Gin while the Italian juniper and coriander seed are primary. The subtle but vital notes are provided by the following: bitter oranges, lemon and grapefruit peel, jasmine, orris, angelica root, and cassia bark. These botanicals are steeped for 15 hours before distillation in small 500 liter stills. Another very unique aspect of this tasty and stylish Gin is that it is shipped in bulk at full strength and then cut with water from a well in Mendocino County, CA. Most importantly, it’s damn good. $25 – See the full feature here.
Sloane’s Dry Gin
The primary talking point with Sloane’s Gin is their practice of distilling each botanical separately and blending the single botanical spirits to create the desired Gin. In sum nine botanicals are utilized: juniper, iris root, coriander, angelica root, cardamom, liquorice root, vanilla beans,and fresh oranges and lemons from Spain. The brand is named for Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753) a celebrated botanist who is credited with introducing many exotic botanicals to the UK. Curiously this tasty Gin is bottled at 40% abv rather than a higher proof that is expected. However, the botanicals pop from the glass without the aid of a higher proof. $27.99 – See the full feature here.
Cocktails Sure to Make New Gin Fans
Ginicello – This is one of most viewed cocktails as it is easy to make, easier to drink, and super refreshing, especially in the sunshine. It’s a more friendly drink than the classic Gin & Tonic as it has a touch of sweetness thanks to Limoncello. Get the recipe.
Parisian Cocktail – Gin and Vermouth come together again with the soothing, sweet, and fruity addition of Crème de Cassis. Like the Ginicello the inclusion of a popular Liqueur makes the drink very palatable to a wide audience. Get the recipe.
Negroni – This great classic cocktail enjoys great favor among bartenders and cocktail aficionados, as well as the more timid drinker. The combination of an Italian Bitter with Sweet Vermouth and botanical Gin are simply irresistible. Get the recipe.