Alcohol days seem pretty randomly dispersed throughout the year. Whiskey Day is in May, Rum Day falls in August, Beer Day is April — no one is doing the digging to find out why. Maybe one human knew once but not anymore. People like to drink and most excuses to do so are deemed acceptable.
That said, World Gin Day landing on June 13th feels bang on. This un-aged, crystal clear, juniper-infused spirit is full of herbs and botanicals — perfectly suited for summery, refreshing cocktails. Whether you’re pouring a gin & tonic, negroni, or a gimlet, we could spend the whole summer drinking nothing but gin-based drinks and be completely content. (Okay, fine, we’d probably sneak a few drams of whiskey in, too.)
Since we spend a good deal of our time drinking American gins, we decided that World Gin Day would be a good chance to highlight some of the expressions distilled outside the US. To help us curate a list of bottles, we tapped a crew of well-traveled, gin-loving bartenders. From Spain to Ireland to Switzerland to the British Virgin Islands, their answers prove that gin is truly a global spirit.
Beefeater Gin (England)
Danny Caffall, lead bartender at The Mansion Bar in Dallas
I know it’s not the sexiest answer, but there is something to be said for the old school originals. I love Beefeater London Dry. It’s a classic. The citrus really comes through to brighten this one up and it just balances the juniper in a way that is not obnoxious or outlandish as so many gins have become. Call me a simple man, but I like a good, well-balanced, and straightforward London dry.
Plymouth Gin (England)
Nancy Conaway, bartender at Republic Street Bar in Fort Worth, Texas
If I have to pick a non-US gin, I’m going with Plymouth gin. This gin originated in England in the late 1700s. I believe anything that has been around that long is tried and true.
BCN Gin (Spain)
Zack Musick, beverage director at Merriman’s in Hawaii
I love so many gins coming out of Spain right now, but I am particularly intrigued by BCN gin from Barcelona. It’s made from grapes grown in the Priorat region of Spain and it has a beautifully fruity style that separates it from so many other brands.
BVI Gin (British Virgin Islands)
Robert Swain Jr., owner of OnTheRoX Bartending Services in the British Virgin Islands
Not being biased, but the BVI GIN is unmatched in its class. I personally never even liked gin until I tried BVI GIN. Its purity is unmatched and it has a slight hint of hibiscus, angelica root, and a touch of nature’s little secret.
Hayman’s London Dry Gin (England)
Nicole Quist, beverage director at Bartaco in Aventura, Florida
We love Hayman’s London Dry Gin at Bartaco. This year, I was in search of the perfect London dry gin for a little refresh for our signature reviver cocktail. It’s kind of like a “gateway” gin cocktail for us — marrying fresh muddled mint and cucumber with the sweetness of mango nectar and herbal notes of the gin. I found what I was looking for in Hayman’s of London, a 150-year-old family recipe.
The clean citrus, crisp, bold juniper, and dry finish make this my go-to cocktail gin.
Hendrick’s Gin (Scotland)
Vance Henderson, brand ambassador at Hendrick’s Gin
Distilled in Girvan, Scotland, only Hendrick’s uses a marriage of spirits from 11 botanicals and two very different stills. The Carter-Head still produces a light and fragrant spirit whereas the Bennet still yields a rich and robust spirit. The combination of the two is oddly infused with the essence of cucumber and rose petals. In the end, stands a smooth gin that has both the required character and balance of subtle flavors. It’s a unique flavor profile beloved by bartenders across the country and is widely considered one of the driving forces behind the current cocktail revolution.
Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin (Ireland)
James Simpson, Beverage Director at Espita in Washington, DC
Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin is a fresh thread in the long history of Gin around the world. Irish meadowsweet, Chinese gunpowder green tea, and Moroccan orris root create an incredible botanical bouquet that makes this bottle balanced and interesting in many classic gin cocktails.
Citadelle Gin (France)
Hayden Miller, head bartender at Bodega Taqueria y Tequila in Miami
Citadelle Gin is hard to beat. I love it because it’s light enough for a glass of ice but able to hold up in a tonic highball. A very versatile gin.
Sipsmith London Dry Gin (England)
Todd Johnston, beverage director at Thompson Nashville
I love Sipsmith Gin out of London. They make a classic London Dry style and for me, it is a bit more complex in the botanical aspect — expressing the expected juniper but with a bright tart citrus cleanness. It’s delicious in a simple gin & tonic.
Right Gin (Sweden)
Brock Schulte, bar director of The Monarch Bar in Kansas City
Right Gin made in Sweden is super approachable. They just rebranded to a slightly higher proof and a way more bartender-friendly bottle. It isn’t a juniper bomb which I really like, so it goes great in cocktails and lends perfectly to citrus. Try it in a southside cocktail.
The Botanist Gin (Scotland)
Stephen Kurpinsky, U.S. brand ambassador for Mr Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur
One of my favorite gins is The Botanist from Scotland, which is a dry style that uses native botanicals to the island of Islay. It won’t break the bank and is great for cocktails. All the botanicals are foraged on the island of Islay (off the coast of Scotland) where it’s made.