When it comes to making a refreshing, top-notch cocktail, you can’t go wrong with gin. Gin is a signature type of liquor that comes from the juniper berry, which has flavors that resemble pine and herbs—some even say it might taste like a Christmas tree. (Which generally makes you feel happy, right?)
Gin has a rich history, and with it multiple variations and styles—all lend distinct nuances that can create a base for a sophisticated cocktail. Some notable botanicals often featured in gin include bark, cassia, coriander, cardamom, and citrus.
Here are the major gins we typically see: London Dry, Sloe Gin, Old Tom, and American Craft.
The London Dry Cocktail
London Dry gin is great for drinks that feature citrus notes, such as lemon or grapefruit, and it’ll be a bit dryer than other styles of gin. It generally makes a fantastic martini.
The Vesper, a classic cocktail, cuts the herbaceous London Dry Gin with Vodka and Vermouth for something stiff but elegant, and it’s really refreshing during spring.
1.5oz London Dry Gin, such as Tanqueray (bolder) or Sipsmith (gentler)
.5oz Dry Vermouth
Build your ingredients in a tall glass, fill with ice, stir for 20-25 seconds depending on your desired strength, strain into martini glass, and finally garnish with a lemon twist.
Sloe Gin Cocktail
Sloe Gin is a type of liquor that blends gin and sloe, the latter being blackthorn drupes, a small fruit that is in the same family as the plum. That means, it goes great with fruit as well, such as citrus or darker berries and stone fruits. As it is a bit sweeter, make sure the other ingredients are a milder to help tone it down. Sloe gin is perfect for warmer temperatures. The balance of sweet and tart is really refreshing, and the addition of bubbles makes it the ideal patio cocktail.
The Earth, the Albert’s take on a Sloe Gin Negroni, is topped with sparkling wine to give it some spritz. We use Hayman’s Sloe Gin, but Sipsmith also makes a very well balanced product.
1.5oz Gin, something herbaceous like St. George Distillery’s Terroir Gin or Bombay Sapphire
.75oz Hayman’s Sloe Gin
.75oz Cocchi Americano
Build your ingredients in a tall glass, fill with ice, stir for 20-25 seconds, strain into a cocktail glass, and then top with 2oz of sparkling wine. Choose something dry like, Prosecco. Garnish with a mint leaf.
Old Tom Gin Cocktail
Old Tom Gin is great for sweeter cocktails, as it’s less dry than London Dry, for example. It’s also the perfect gin to use for a Tom Collins, which features gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water.
Martinez, as legend has it, is one of the very first cocktails, which gives the martini its name. With less of a juniper feel, this cocktail is more on the malty side and has a touch of sweetness.
2oz Old Tom Gin, we use the Anchor Old Tom, but Ransom makes a Barrel Aged Old Tom Gin that is fantastic.
1oz Sweet Vermouth
.25oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
Build your ingredients in a tall glass, fill with ice, stir for 20-25 seconds, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel and a cherry on top.
American Craft Gin
American Craft is a fairly new style of gin, and unlike the others, it doesn’t have a distinct flavor or quality. A bunch of distilleries are experimenting with craft cocktails that call for gin, and American Craft gin falls into that style of modern takes and twists on classics. Two great Chicago distilleries to note are Rhine Hall in downtown Chicago and FEW Spirits, located in Evanston, with a “breakfast gin” that’s distilled with Earl Gray tea for a unique flavor. It’s the way of the future when it comes to innovating cocktails and developing new ways to savor gin.
VSB, the Albert original cocktail, is light and refreshing. The St. George Terroir Gin in this American Craft gin cocktail is a bit woodsy, with more complexity and earthiness. It works really well with the addition of a sweeter touch to really boost its aromatic nature. Using lemon juice, wine, and elderflower, it is a great example of blending ingredients to make a well-rounded cocktail.
1oz St. George Terroir Gin
.75oz Elderflower Liqueur
.75oz Lemon Juice
.5oz Aromatized wine like Lillet Blanc, or Cocchi Americano
6 Mint Leaves
Put all your ingredients into a shake with ice, shake for 10 seconds, and then strain into a rocks glass, over ice. Garnish with a mint cap.
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