As a spirit category, gin has grown by leaps and bounds, and now boasts a more diverse lineup than it ever has. The key to stocking your home bar is to choose from a spectrum of different gin genres so you always have the right bottle on hand.
We hit up two titans of the gin world for their insight. From San Francisco’s gin bar Whitechapel, bar manager Megan Daniel says, “For my home bar, I like to have something from most gin categories, so I have endless options for cocktails.”
From St. Louis comes Natasha “Gin Girl” Bahrami, the owner of The Gin Room and founder of Ginworld. “Because a home bar has limited space, you want to have a range of products that can fit your cravings to both experiment with cocktails and imbibe at your leisure,” she says.
These are the five essential gins to stock.
Start with the basics—any gin collection needs a traditional London dry. “You’ll want to anchor your home bar with a juniper-forward London dry gin for your classic cocktails,” says Bahrami. “Gordon’s London dry gin in a glass bottle is a staple at any successful home bar. Savory with a lightly sweet finish, this juniper-packed gin has the full botanical body to be the perfect companion to the equal parts of the classic bitter Negroni.” (If you didn’t read between the lines there: Skip the big plastic jug.)
This modern take on a classic London dry comes from the folks who revived the category and sparked a gin revolution in the U.K. “Sipsmith is a great, classic London dry,” says Daniel. “This gin is bright with botanicals, yet it still has a beautiful citrus quality.” She recommends trying it in a classic Martini, adding, “Sipsmith makes a great Martini and even has enough body to stand up to vermouth in a 50/50 ratio.”
“Italy has been making waves in the gin category,” says Daniel. Her pick from the Negroni-loving nation is Malfy Gin Con Limone. “Malfy is a gin with high lemon flavors, coming from an old limoncello family.” With a flavor focus on lemon as opposed to juniper, this is a great example of a gateway gin. “This gin does well in a Gin & Tonic, but it’s also low in botanicals, so it makes great gin drinks for vodka lovers.”
Before gin there was genever, which is why any well-stocked gin bar should include a bottle. “This wouldn’t be a complete gin list if we didn’t talk about the mother of gin,” says Daniel. “This is essentially a malted-grain-based gin from Holland, full of body and with notes of spice, bread and fleshy fruits. I love making genever Negronis or a Saturn cocktail for my Tiki fiends.” The Saturn blends gin with passion fruit, lemon juice, orgeat and falernum––one of the rare gin drinks in the rum-centric Tiki universe.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
“Sometimes you crave something brown and full-bodied yet full of botanicals,” says Bahrami. “Barr Hill Tom Cat gin is distilled with pounds of juniper, softened with raw Vermont honey and aged in new charred oak barrels.” Thanks to the influence of the barrels, this is an ideal choice for whiskey drinkers. “This barrel-aged gin is a gem for your home bar, whether you want to sip it neat or substitute it for whiskey in your Manhattan or Old Fashioned,” she says. “If you have those friends over that need a little extra push to move from whiskey to gin, this will win them over every time.”