In recent years, London Dry gin hasn’t done so hot. Looming in the shadows of vodka and whiskey, the juniper-tinged spirit has been cast aside as a singular-tasting alcohol of choice for a generation past its prime — dry gin is your father’s and grandfather’s drink, not yours. But with a new class of excellent brands in an “American” dry style — boasting a more balanced and widely ranging flavor profile — blossoming as we speak, you’d be wise to reconsider.
MORE GP GIN: Ginvent Calendar | Masters of Malt Origin Single Estate Gins | Greenhook Ginsmiths American Dry Gin | Bombay Sapphire East
We’ve sifted through the clutter of liquor store shelves to bring you five of the best American-made dry gins around. Any one of these tasty, off-the-wall puckerers will do great with some tonic, vermouth or even just a few cubes of ice, and what’s more, will help celebrate our liberation from those prissy Limeys. They’ll also help you find the right words when you’re penning us that thank you note — on American flag stationary, of course.
Berkshire Mountain Distillers Greylock Gin
There’s plenty of debate as to how London dry gin came to get its name, but all agree on its flavor profile: crisp and clean. Fitting that bill perfectly, with a hint of the less stern American style, Greylock Gin is a Wine Enthusiast–approved (91/100) gin that combines seven different botanicals in to one smooth-sippin’ spirit. The first legal distillery in its region since prohibition, Massachusetts-based Berkshire Mountain Distillers utilizes old-school methods, resulting in a citrusy gin that starts out floral but “finishes with bitter orange peel, clove and peppery bite”. At least that’s what Wine Enthusiast said. Our experience: it starts out strong and ends in regret. In other words, it’s our kind of gin.
Organic Nation Gin
Of course the gin that makes the list from Oregon would be organic. In fact, Organic Nation is the West Coast’s first fully organic micro-distillery and one of only a handful in the world. So is that why it’s one of the most expensive gins on our list? Well, yeah, but it’s also because its list of botanicals is almost twice as long as standard London drys. Twelve in total — including black pepper, coriander, angelica and basil — make the cut for Organic Nation. While we understand that the ingredients we just listed also happen to be part of your Mee-Maw’s secret Thanksgiving bird dry rub recipe, make no mistake: this gin ain’t no turkey.
|Say “martini” around any man and the first thing he’ll conjure up is James Bond. But what exactly is the association with Bond and the Martini? Look no further than Dukes Bar, nestled in the lobby of the Dukes Hotel — the place that inspired Ian Fleming. If you care about spirits, Dukes should sit atop your list of must-visits. Especially if you find yourself in the Queen’s domain. We’ve been lucky enough to visit Dukes several times now and it’s never failed to please.
The article you’re reading is about gin — and Dukes’ Martini with gin is a handsome drink — but you’ll want to order yours with Dukes’ very own vodka. It’s a commanding drink — simultaneously smooth and vigorous (rule: Dukes allows you only three per sitting). The bar oozes old world charm too, a small place that’s somehow neither too full nor too quiet, a perfect spot to sip your way into history. And as you sit back watching the tender craft your Martini, table side, you simply only need to gnosh on an olive and realize that for a moment, you’ve walked right into celluloid history and a taste of cocktail heaven.
35 St James’s Pl, London, SW1A 1NY. dukeshotel.com
No. 209 Gin
The people behind
that place where Felicity worked Dean & DeLuca decided to make a gin. And being that they’re the people behind Dean & DeLuca, it’s not just any gin. No. 209 sports botanicals from four different continents, but at the same time makes the pledge to source locally whenever possible (our assumption is that their Bergamot orange peel and Cassia bark suppliers aren’t from around here). Though it has a slight anise-like bite, the truly interesting characteristic to 209 isn’t in its standard gin, but rather its “Kosher cousin.”
That’s right, 209 is the only distillery in the world to produce a gin certified as Kosher for Passover. Master distiller, Arne Hillesland, created an entirely grain-free gin that is made out of sugar cane and other Passover-acceptable botanicals. To be honest, we have no idea how that one tastes, but considering our Jewish friends couldn’t even drink gin during Passover before this, we’re going to go ahead and give this the green light as the best Semitic-friendly libation on the planet. L’chaim!
Anchor Junipero Gin
The uninformed might not know it, but all spirits start out the exact same way: as beer. The initial fermented liquid, commonly known as a beer wash, can either go on to become suds, or as is the case with gin, be distilled and infused with a myriad of botanicals including juniper berries (where gin gets much of its flavor and aroma). So it only makes sense that a classic beer company — in this case, San Francisco’s Anchor Brewery — would find itself also becoming a distillery. After all, they already have most of the ingredients. Anchor’s Junipero Gin is crafted in custom-made copper pot stills in the exact same facility as the company’s portfolio of delicious beers. Unlike other gins on our list, Junipero refuses to divulge its ingredient list. The only things we know are that it has beer wash and juniper in it. Since they created something that’s light, crisp and good enough to take home the Gold Medal for “Best Gin in Show” at the 2012 New York World Wine and Spirits Competition, we’re all right with the lack of disclosure.
Bluecoat American Dry Gin
The term “American-made London Dry Gin” is confusing as hell, which is why Bluecoat American Dry Gin tries to simplify its product for customers. Boasting itself as “five times distilled in the birthplace of America — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania”, Bluecoat (as in the Revolutionary War bluecoats) pulls no punches when it comes to its hyper-nationalistic stance on its, er, spirit. A more aggressive gin than the others on our list (USA! USA! USA!), Bluecoat is distilled to have strong notes of both citrus and cucumber. But with a marketing campaign that commands you to “assert your independence” and questions why we’re still drinking British gin after winning the war, we don’t really get any of the citrus or cucumber notes on our palate. All we taste is Freedom.
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