The Martini, the Tom Collins and the Negroni, plus countless other mixological classics, all have one major thing in common: gin.
While the juniper spirit has always been a bestseller, thanks to the rebirth of the cocktail there’s now a huge variety of gins available, which run the gamut from the historical to the irreverent.
So fix yourself a drink while we give you a crash course on the world of gin.
For years, the word “gin” was synonymous with such stalwarts as Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray and Plymouth. These spirits are infused with a range of botanicals, usually among them orris root, citrus peels, angelica and, of course, juniper berries, which provide the primary flavor note.
A couple hundred years ago, the malty Dutch genever was popular and the base of many of the recipes we now associate with dry British gin. But more recently it was very hard to find. Fortunately, in 2008, Bols introduced its authentic genever to America. Another lost classic is old Tom gin, which was England’s spin on the Dutch style. Hayman’s Old Tom Gin is now being imported from the UK, and the Oregon-based Ransom Spirits is also making a version of the complex liquor.
By law, all gin must incorporate juniper, but many distillers today are using a host of exotic ingredients as well. The Scottish Hendrick’s is perhaps the most famous, with its blend of cucumber and rose, while the French Citadelle uses 19 different botanicals, including nutmeg, cumin and cardamom. Beefeater 24’s recipe even features both Chinese and Japanese green teas. And the brand-new Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin from Holland (pictured above) calls for raspberry, Turkish rose and peach.