We totally get why people hate gin, especially if said people are devout vodka drinkers. When you’re not used to the botanical spirit, it can taste like you just licked a pine tree and took a swig from a bottle of perfume. But if you’ve ever been curious about drinking gin and don’t know where to start, these seven spirits are an excellent gateway into the category. From a gin with rose and cucumber to a lemon-infused bottling from Italy, these gins will satisfy even the most devout vodka drinker.
Instead of having the standard juniper-heavy evergreen notes synonymous with most gins, this Scottish spirit opts for a more floral approach. Infused with Bulgarian Rosa Damascena—an exceptionally fragrant Eastern European rose species—cucumber, and botanicals like angelica root and elderflower, Hendrick’s shines with floral aromatics. On the palate it has a juicy, fresh cucumber flavor and finishes like an exceptionally smooth vodka, kissed with a spritz of perfume. While the spirit isn’t the best for a Dry Martini, it’s remarkable with a spritzy topping of seltzer.
Fruit-flavored vodka lovers take note: Nolet's lusciously fruity aromatics will convert you to gin drinking for life. Made in Schiedam, Holland, it has a unique flavor that’s unlike any other gin on the market. After distillation, the spirit is infused with Turkish rose, peach and raspberry. The resulting gin is vibrantly floral with bold fruit flavors and a smooth finish that carries a touch of subtle honeyed sweetness. Use it in brunch cocktails or as an accompaniment to Champagne with fresh fruit.
It’s no coincidence that New Amsterdam, which also produces one of the smoothest vodkas on the market, created a gin that’s equally as refined. With a heavier emphasis on citrus flavors and drinkability, this gin is the closest thing to a vodka that we’ve tried. It’s crisp and clean on the palate with a bright hit of lemon zest in the body. Only on the finish does the spirit release a hint of juniper, followed by a soft bitter note from the botanicals. Mix it into a Martini, and you’ll have even the most devout vodka drinker knocking back juniper-heavy Bombay Sapphire versions of the cocktail in no time.
There’s no hope for weaning yourself—or a loved one—from a vodka-only diet if you can’t appreciate Caledonia Spirits’ craft gin. Made in Vermont, this exceptionally smooth and flavorful spirit is made with a touch of raw, local honey, which gives it a rounder mouthfeel and floral edge. Use it in bright, citrus-forward cocktails like a French 75, or in honey-centric tipples like the Bee’s Knees.
After his tenure at WD-50, an experimental dining experience in New York’s Lower East Side, Jake Sawabini started Empire Spirits Project (ESP) and turned his creativity towards making unique gins. His American Beauty Gin is infused with rose, cinnamon and ginger and will please even the most diehard vodka drinkers. Light, refreshing and floral, the spirit has a striking, spicy hint of cinnamon, a subtle note of candied ginger, and touches of rose oil and lemon on the finish. Swap this gin for the vodka in a Vodka Cran to create a decadent autumn cocktail anyone will love.
If you’re a fan of bright, citrus-infused vodkas, this gin may become your new go-to spirit. Made in Moncalieri—outside of Torino in Northern Italy—Malfy gin is infused with the zest of lemons from the Amalfi Coast and Sicily. On the palate, it’s bright and vivacious with an abundance of citrus on the nose (almost like an unsweetened Limoncello). This is our new favorite gin for Vespers and Negronis, or to mix in classic Highballs like a Tom Collins.
This modern American gin is unique and unconventional, in both its flavor and package design. Infused with lemongrass, peppercorns, cardamom and pistachio, it’s robust and richly flavorful. (Side note: if you’re allergic to nuts or don’t like pistachios, you should avoid this gin like the plague.) On the palate, the spirit has a touch of earthiness, a lot of pistachio flavor, and an almost creamy, semi-sweet, nutty finish. This gin is ripe for a Sherry Martini, tropical cocktails and tiki drinks like the Fog Cutter.