Can I Drink Gin Straight?
While you almost never hear someone order gin straight up or on the rocks, a bone-dry Martini is just garnished, chilled gin. And as craft gins continue to find success, a growing number of gin enthusiasts—none dare call them ginthusiasts—are making the argument that gin can and should be drunk neat. As vermouth-phobic stockbrokers have long known, gin can be delicious simply stirred with ice and strained into a glass or served over ice. It can be especially good with a twist of lemon or lime wedge, depending on the dominant botanicals of the individual gin.
If you’d really like to test your palate with a nice pour of straight gin, we suggest looking for bottlings infused with the botanicals that you already enjoy on a regular basis. If you’re into citrusy, lemony notes, then Malfy Con Limone, Portobello Road and Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin are all good bets. If you like a little spice and are into an exotic edge, grab a bottle of Junipero or Berkshire Mountain Greylock Gin. If you’re on a budget, New Amsterdam Gin only costs about $13 a bottle and tastes lovely with a swath of lemon or orange peel to accompany it. All of the above should be served over a big cube of ice, as sipping any gin neat will be pretty hardcore for the taste buds.
Notable Gin Cocktails
Martini: This clean, mean and pristine classic cocktail is the ultimate way to experience gin’s host of nuanced flavors.
Gin & Tonic: Spritzy and refreshing, this was the daily tipple of soldiers working for the British East India Company in the early 19th century. We say don’t reserve it for summer, though. The gin and tonic is fashionable year-round.
Tom Collins: If the brutality of tonic water is too much, try a Tom Collins, a simple mix of gin, lemon juice, sugar and soda water.
Gin Fizz: Think of the Gin Fizz as a next-level Tom Collins. Along with sugar, soda water, gin and lemon juice, it contains a shaken egg white that produces a creamy, foamy head.
Bee’s Knees: Though the honey and lemon juice in this Prohibition-era cocktail were originally meant to cover the flawed flavors of low-grade gin, they can also work wonders with a quality spirit.
Aviation: Crème de violette, a violet-flavored liqueur, gives this classic cocktail a beautiful, hazy purple hue.
Gimlet: Even the gin averse can appreciate this sweet, citrusy classic. The cocktail first appeared in the Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930, but British sailors were drinking a version of the Gimlet to fend off scurvy well before the recipe was printed. Essentially a Daiquiri with gin instead of rum, it’s easy to make and refreshing to drink anytime of year.
Pegu Club: No one knows exactly when this gin Sour was invented, but we do know where it was first served. During the days of the British Empire, Englishmen would open up exclusive clubs in all of their territories as a place to socialize over a stiff drink. One such club in Rangoon was dubbed Pegu Club, and this mix of gin, Cointreau, lime juice and bitters was first served within its walls. There’s even a bar in NYC named after the delightful drink.
Last Word: Perhaps the most underrated gin cocktail (and one of the most overlooked cocktails in general), the Last Word is easy to make but looks impressive as hell. It was first created at the Detroit Athletic Club during Prohibition, but it fell out of fashion somewhere in the mid-twentieth century—until bartender Murray Stenson resurrected the cocktail at Seattle’s Zig Zag Cafe in 2004. Equal parts gin, Green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and lime juice, it’s one of the most beautiful and delicious classics you can drink.