Gin has an unrivaled ability to lend itself to countless flavors and styles. While the classic Gin and Tonic may reign supreme, we venture beyond the timeless combination to uncover a world of gin cocktails that tantalize the taste buds.
Gin stands as a testament to the artistry and alchemy of distillation. Rooted in juniper berries, the primary botanical, it has evolved over centuries to embrace a diversity of flavors. Infused with an array of herbs, spices, and botanicals such as coriander, angelica root, citrus peels, and beyond, gin captivates with its ability to embody a blend of fragrances and tastes.
The origins of gin trace back to the Netherlands in the 17th century, where it first appeared as “jenever” or “Dutch gin”. It swiftly crossed the English Channel, capturing the attention and palates of the British. A distinctly English interpretation emerged, eventually leading to the rise of London Dry Gin, a benchmark style renowned for its crispness and elegance.
As gin’s popularity soared, cocktail culture blossomed alongside it, showcasing the spirit’s remarkable versatility beyond Gin and Tonic. From the graceful complexity of the French 75 to the floral elegance of the Aviation, these cocktails showcase gin’s ability to harmonize with an array of ingredients and flavors.
A vintage cocktail with a delicate and floral taste, the Aviation mixes gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de violette, and fresh lemon juice. It results in a pale purple color and is often with a cherry garnish.
One to try: Double Chicken Please in New York, NY. Recently named #1 in North America’s 50 Best Bars, they use Bombay Sapphire in their version of an Aviation cocktail, as listed on their Back Room menu.
A timeless classic, the Negroni is made with equal parts gin, Campari (a bitter herbal liqueur), and sweet vermouth. It has a bittersweet and refreshing flavor profile, with an orange peel twist garnish.
One to try: Pacific Cocktail Haven in San Francisco. Their Asian pacific inspired cocktail list sections by spirit. Their Leeward Negroni using Sipsmith‘s VJOP (Very Junipery Over Proof) and coconut-washed Campari.
A modern gin cocktail, conceptualized in the 1980s, the Bramble is a fruity and tangy delight. It consists of gin, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and blackberry liqueur. Served over crushed ice and garnished with fresh blackberries.
Combining gin, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and Champagne, the French 75 is a sparkling and elegant cocktail. It’s traditionally served in a flute glass and garnished with a lemon twist.
Rose Colo(u)red Glasses
Much like the spelling of color (or colour if you’re in Canada or the U.K.), this cocktail expresses itself in many variations, from vodka to spiced rum and everything in between. However, all have a shimmering pink hue for those who seek beauty in every sip.
One to try: Rosewood Hotel Georgia’s Reflections Terrace in Vancouver, BC, uses Dillon’s Rose, a Canadian small-batch gin. Combined with Akvavit (Scandinavian vodka), Lillet Blanc, fresh lime juice, and almond orgeat, this cocktail is an exquisite symphony of flavors.
The Gin Fizz is a simple yet delightful mix of gin, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water. Classic versions are shaken with ice, strained into a highball glass, and garnished with a lemon slice.
One to try: The Nopsi Gin Fizz at Henry’s Gin Bar + Backyard in New Orleans, LA, is a seasonal spin on the classic Ramos, a speciality among the city’s bartenders. Invented by Henry Charles Ramos in the 1800s, a Ramos Gin Fizz includes lime juice, orange flower water, heavy cream, and an egg white.
A cocktail with a touch of elegance, the Pink Lady typically combines gin, applejack brandy, grenadine, lemon juice, and a dash of egg white. To serve, shake vigorously in a shaker, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a cherry.
A refreshing highball cocktail, the Tom Collins features gin, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and club soda. It’s typically served over ice (differentiating it from a gin fizz) in a tall glass and garnished with a lemon slice and a cherry.
One to try: The gin selection at Scofflaw Chicago is extensive. And, while a Tom Collins isn’t on their menu, it’s the perfect spot to ask for this classic.