Hendrick's Gin: An Old Standby in the New Generation of Gins

Cocktails and Spirits with Paul Clarke

Weekly insight into the world of drinks with Paul Clarke from the Cocktail Chronicles and Imbibe magazine.

20080723-hendricks-gin-small.jpgOn occasion, I’ve touched on the different types of gin now populating the shelves of your local liquor stores. Many of them are in the growing class of so-called “new generation” gins. That is, less traditional dry gins that, while still flavored with juniper berries, push other botanicals front and center, so the taste is less juniper-forward like old-school gins such as Tanqueray, and more herbal, floral, or citrusy.

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One of the first, and almost certainly the most popular, in this gin wave is Hendrick’s. Made in Scotland, and with a delicate flavor that features cucumber and rose petals more prominently than juniper, Hendrick’s is marketed in a distinctive black bottle that calls to mind apothecaries of the Victorian era—a time of croquet and cucumber sandwiches in the rose garden, all characteristics that Hendrick’s savvy marketers have used to good effect.

With a bright, floral aroma and a crisp, complex flavor, Hendrick’s is a very easy gin for ginophobes to embrace. In a martini, Hendrick’s benefits from light vermouth. The more vermouth-heavy martinis growing popular at haute cocktail bars have a better balance when made with a more assertive gin like Plymouth, whereas with Hendrick’s, the floral interplay can get overwhelming. Substituting Lillet for vermouth creates the right balance, and in delicately-flavored gin drinks and highballs such as the gin rickey, Hendrick’s is a fine choice.