Life

Bartenders Shout Out The One Gin They’d Drink Forever

Gin isn’t for everyone and that’s totally okay. For some, the juniper-based, herbal, and botanical-centric spirit is loaded with bold flavors that don’t appeal to their individual palates. Drinkers who love gin, on the other hand, drink it all year long. They’re more than happy to imbibe a gin & tonic, dry martini, or gin gimlet in the middle of winter, spring, summer, fall … always.

We think that’s great. If you love something, don’t tuck it away for months. That makes zero sense.

Recently, we wrote about under the radar and new gins. These are the bottles that maybe haven’t quite broken through yet. Perhaps this is because of their popularity, price, or even obscurity. And, let’s face it, if a tiny craft distillery in, say, Portlan, Maine puts out a gin, you can be forgiven for not having heard of it over in Portland, Oregon.

Today, instead of mentioning the underappreciated gems, we’re talking about desert island bottles. To find them, we asked a handful of notable bartenders to tell us the one gin they’d drink forever. They based this selection on taste, mixability, value, and general findability. Keep scrolling to see all of their picks.

Roku Gin

Roku Gin
Suntory

Daniel Yang, lead bartender at Electra Cocktail Club inside The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $28

Why This Gin?

Hands down, Roku Gin distilled in Japan from Suntory is the winner. Aptly named Roku (translated as the number six in Japanese) for its six unique Japanese botanicals, this phenomenal gin has all the attention to detail and care that we’ve come to expect from Japanese distilled products.

With a notable yuzu front and the soft delicate notes of botanical flavors expected of traditional gin, I highly recommend this masterpiece to anyone who enjoys gin.

Fords Gin

Fords Gin
Fords

Lewis Caputa, lead bartender at Rosina inside The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $25

Why This Gin?

Fords gin because it is a gin made by bartenders and I find that quite appealing. This gin is very balanced with traditional gin flavors of juniper and coriander, but I really love the taste of the grapefruit notes that shines through. It really is a perfect gin at any bar to mix with.

Barr Hill Gin

Barr Hill Gin
Barr Hill

John Dal Canton, assistant general manager and beverage director at La Stella Cucina Verace in Dallas

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $40

Why This Gin?

I would drink Barr Hill Gin for both its distinct flavor and fantastic story. It’s a juniper and Douglas fir tip forward gin with notes of beeswax and wildflowers and is finished with raw honey, giving it a rich mouthfeel and satiny texture without adding any sweetness.

It’s a great spirit and helps save the bees, so it’s a win-win.

Gray Whale Gin

Gray Whale Gin
Gray Whale

Nicholas Karel, director of bars, lounges, and beverages at Windsor Court in New Orleans

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $40

Why This Gin?

Gray Whale Gin from Golden State Distillery is a newly released gin and my pick. This is one of the most exciting new products I’ve tried in a very long time. They use botanicals that follow the migration of the Gray Whale up the coast of California, including kombu and almonds which offer a luscious creaminess yet bright and vibrant flavor profile.

Plymouth Gin

Plymouth Gin
Plymouth

Christopher Rodriguez, lead bartender at Lucy Restaurant & Bar in Yountville, California

ABV: 41.2%

Average Price: $33

Why This Gin?

I would choose Plymouth Gin because I enjoy my gin in mixed cocktails or served ice cold straight up with a lemon twist. Plymouth Gin is a classic London dry gin but is unique by not being super juniper heavy, making it softer than most London dry.

It pairs super well with any gin cocktail and it is easy to appreciate all the amazing flavors it offers.

Opihr Dry Gin

Opihr Dry Gin
Opihr

Anthony Aviles, director of operations at The Ritz-Carlton Members Beach Club in Sarasota, Florida

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $30

Why This Gin?

The biggest knock on gin is the “Christmas tree taste” that many offer. The only gin I have ever tasted that not only avoided this comparison but also blew my socks off (even when enjoyed neat), was Opihr (pronounced “o-peer”). It’s a relatively newer spirit on the market and brands itself as a “Spiced London Dry Gin.” It is made with more elevated botanicals and spices (Indonesian cubeb berries and Indian black pepper, for example) that create such a unique, unexpected, yet highly enjoyable experience for a gin.

A bottle of this with a few lime wedges and you’ll be happy.

KI NO BI Kyoto Dry Gin

KI NO BI Kyoto Dry Gin
KI NO BI

Steven Minor, corporate beverage director at 1 Hotels in Los Angeles

ABV: 45.7%

Average Price: $75

Why This Gin?

Gin just hits kind of different and this Japanese standout is no exception. As most industry professionals know, once Japanese distillers decide they want to master a specific liquor category, that liquor category’s country of origin is in for some stiff competition (see: scotch vs. Japanese whisky). This gin hailing from Kyoto is broken down into six different botanical categories: base, citrus, herbal, floral, spice, and tea. All botanicals are distilled separately, then blended back together according to the master blender’s specifications. The result is a lovely amalgamation of Japanese-centric flavor profiles like yuzu, gyokuro tea, and sansho pepper.

It drinks wonderfully in a Vesper riff made with high-quality shochu and Japanese bermutto or as the base gin in a yuzu and shiso gimlet.

Hendrick’s Gin

Hendrick’s Gin
Hendrick

Emily Lawson, bartender and founder of Pink House Alchemy in Fayetteville, Arkansas

ABV: 44%

Average Price: $40

Why This Gin?

I absolutely love Hendricks Gin. Its clean profile satisfies the taste for both a London dry gin and a more botanical forward gin. We developed our award-winning pH Tonic Syrup to complement and enhance its botanical notes, highlighting the fresh floral aroma and taste.

The gin is created with eleven botanicals that balance the taste perfectly, each sip is smooth and dry without being overly acidic or bitter.

Sipsmith London Dry Gin

Sipsmith London Dry Gin
Sipsmith

Pascal Pinalt, director of restaurants and bars at The Confidante in Miami

ABV: 41.6%

Average Price: $35

Why This Gin?

If you love juniper, you will fall head over heels for this flavor palate. Sipsmith is a balance of juniper berry and lemon without the harsh taste of alcohol. Not too sweet and not too sour, it is a joy to drink on the rocks, or as a mixer for a Vesper and gin & tonic or simply sipping on it. There’s almost a lemony-biscuit note, along with the other usual gin botanicals.

Nordés Atlantic Gin

Nordés Atlantic Gin
Nordés

Nick Baitzel, beverage director of restaurant group Sojourn Philly in Philadelphia

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $32

Why This Gin?

Gin for me usually comes down to what makes for the best cocktails, therefore I tend to look for something with balanced flavors rather than relying too heavily on juniper. My favorite is Nordés Atlantic Gin from Galicia, Spain. The main flavors are citrus and floral, and the base spirit is made from Albarino grapes, which speaks to my wine background.

Tanqueray London Dry

Tanqueray London Dry
Tanqueray

Matty Carroll, beverage director for The Kitchen Restaurant Group in Boulder, Colorado

ABV: 47.3%

Average Price: $28

Why This Gin?

I’m a classicist, so it’d probably be Tanqueray. For me, it’s a perfect, true-to-style London Dry, with fresh juniper berry, pine, bitter orange peel, and spice. My grandmother drank it in her martinis, so I don’t really have a choice do I?

Monkey 47 Gin

Monkey 47 Gin
Monkey 47

Elvyra Cucovic, beverage manager at Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel’s High Tide Beach Bar & Grill in Miami

ABV: 47%

Average Price: $42

Why This Bottle?

If I had to pick one gin to stick with for the rest of my life, it would be Monkey 47. Each sip offers you a new glimpse into its 47 different botanicals. Best enjoyed by itself or with a mild tonic to really take in all those funky flavors.

Bluecoat Barrel Finished Gin

Bluecoat Barrel Finished Gin
Bluecoat

Christopher Devern, lead bartender of Red Owl Tavern in Philadelphia

ABV: 47%

Average Price: $36

Why This Gin?

I may be biased with Philly being my hometown. But for someone who didn’t always have a taste for gin, this was the brand that made it grow on me. I was still the bar-back at the time and assisted my lead bartender at a cocktail competition hosted at the Bluecoat Distillery. The barrel age really stood out and I still have a lot of fun making classic riffs with it. Whether it be a Negroni, Vesper, a bee’s knees, or one of the thousand martini variations guests ask for, this gin stands out every time. Oak age rounds it out and lends characteristics a whiskey drinker would appreciate while retaining those peppery and juniper notes you’d expect from gin.

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