It's time to start thinking about drinks that will complement warmer weather. Here are five of my favorite gin cocktails to mix this spring.
'gin' on Serious Eats
If you've got just one bottle of booze, you can still make drinks. Today we'll focus on cocktails you can make with a bottle of gin. You don't need liqueurs, vermouth, or any other spirits. The rest of the ingredients can be gathered at your local grocery store or farmers' market.
A simple and delightful cocktail made with chamomile tea, gin, and honey.
Which is the best gin for a Negroni? I tested three basic types of gin: a junipery London dry style, a more floral style, and a Navy strength (114 proof, or 57% alcohol by volume).
Yes, it's true: even a drink can "say it with flowers." For me, in fact, a drink that hands you the experience of a fresh rose is much more stimulating than the Valentine's Day sales at the corner florist.
Clear Creek Distillery has bottled the smell of a Christmas tree and made it into drinkable form. While nice to drink on its own, finding a cocktail to complement the strong, woodsy character of this spirit is tricky. Here, a delicious new twist on the French 75, named for the town where the Douglas Fir Eau de Vie is made.
For many, the phrase "homemade gin" may conjure up images of bathtub distilleries during Prohibition, and rotgut stuff not really fit for human consumption. Sarah Maiellano and her husband Joe see it differently. They're the folks behind The HomeMade Gin Kit, a package that transforms your self-supplied vodka into gin. It's a lot safer than actually distilling at home, and legal, too.
The very thing that makes beets a bit of a nuisance to home cooks—the whole "your kitchen looks like a blood bath" thing—is a boon to cocktail makers, as it helps produce striking, vibrant-hued drinks.
"Gin is having a renaissance right now," says Brady Caverly, owner of The Flintridge Proper, which recently opened in La Cañada Flintridge, just north of Pasadena, CA. The bar offers over two hundred different gins—a selection they claim is the largest in the world. We chatted with the Flintridge team about their favorite gins for mixing and sipping straight.
We're used to it with tequila, we're used to it with rum: spirits that are delicious on their own can be transformed into something even more delicious with a little barrel aging. So I guess we shouldn't be surprised that barrel aged gin is on the rise. But is putting gin in barrels a good idea?
Master distiller Lance Winters produces delicious small-batch gin, absinthe, whiskey, rum, and more at St. George Spirits in Alameda, CA. We recently chatted with Winters about what he's drinking, how he got started in the distilling business, where craft distilling is going in the US, and a few fun projects he's releasing soon.
Jeff Faile has crafted an evolving list of Negroni-inspired cocktails that occupies an entire page of Fiola's cocktail menu. Currently clocking in at six, the list includes a Negroni based on pisco, a clear version with Cocchi Americano and Dolin Blanc, and a richer one made with Barolo Chinato and Old Tom Gin. Each variation exposes new flavor possibilities for the drink. Lucky for you, we got the recipes for 4 favorites.
How many ways are there to enjoy a martini? Over at Slate, Troy Patterson has given a lot of thought to this question. He staged a Tournament of Martinis, in the pattern of the NCAA basketball tourney. Starting with 80 recipes (yes, 80), he paired drinks up and let them battle for supremacy. He includes martini variations that I don't think of as such: for example, martinis with Chartreuse, Scotch, elderflower liqueur, or lime juice. Patterson's path is fun to read, but I have no intention of duplicating his work. Instead I want to focus on just a few elements of the martini: the ingredients, the ratio, the preparation, and the presentation, along with a little history.
Since the debut of its Original Label Gin, Letherbee has unveiled a limited-release gin for autumn; a unique "absinthe brun," which aged in a charred oak barrel; and R. Franklin's Original Recipe Malört, an ode to the (in)famous Chicago-centric and wormwood-driven bitter liqueur developed in collaboration with Robby F. Haynes, bar manager at Chicago's first modern craft-cocktail destination, The Violet Hour.
Sometimes a drink is so delicious that it gets passed around the table—you have to taste this—and then everyone orders one (or two). The Pamplemousse at Beretta on San Francisco's Valencia Street is one of those drinks: bright, tart, as refreshing as the fresh grapefruit juice it's made with.
Raines Law Room's modern take on the Savoy original calls on Cocchi Americano, with its spine of quinine. "It dries out your cheeks a little," notes Meaghan Dorman, giving hers a surprisingly illustrative suck. Dorman showed us how to make this tasty cocktail at home.
Would you be surprised if I told you that Tanqueray was ahead of the curve of the new gin movement? In 1997, they released what was perhaps the most revolutionary gin to come out of a major English distillery to date. Malacca, based on a recipe by Charles Tanqueray from the grand old year 1839, was a revelation to many in the burgeoning cocktail scene. A softer, citrus-forward gin, uniquely suited for mixing in the new wave of drinks created by barmen across the country, Malacca instantly developed cult status. Unfortunately for its newfound following, Malacca was taken off shelves in 2001. It's back now, and I can't recommend this gin highly enough.
Trader Joe's Jail House Gin is 88 proof, and the label proudly announces that it's 'five times distilled in the former Navy brig on Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay.' The result: a gin that smells a little bit like cleaning fluid and quite a bit like vodka.
The bar at Wildwood in NW Portland boasts 53 spirits from 22 different local producers. Bar manager Ryan Csanky is among them—his recently released Aria gin makes an appearance in a few of the cocktails at Wildwood. We asked Csanky to recommend a few drinks to order the next time we stop by the bar.
If you have gin and a few basic pantry ingredients, plus one other bottle, there are a number of cocktails you can make. Found a bottle of Chartreuse or Maraschino in the attic? Wondering what to do with it? Grab some gin and read on...