There’s no doubt that the iconic Martini propelled gin to a secure place in the hearts of cocktail connoisseurs. But more recently, gin’s chameleon-like characteristics and range of styles and flavors have made it a darling among bartenders looking to add versatility to their menus.
While sales of gin in the U.S. market lag behind other liquors, growing interest stateside and internationally is adding plenty of exciting, and budget friendly, options. Enlisting the expert opinions of beverage professionals around the country, VinePair asked for the top sweet-spot brands that offer as much quality as value.
Given that many bars and restaurants are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic at the time of reporting, VinePair requested that bartenders provide links to their Venmo accounts, GoFundMe campaigns, or other fundraising efforts to help support them during this time. To learn more about helping the hospitality community, please visit: How to Give Back to Hospitality Professionals Impacted by Covid-19.
“Gin is super hot again and it’s about time! Think of gin as flavored vodka. But be careful! Many gins are 90 proof (45 percent ABV) or more, while vodka is usually 80 proof (40 percent ABV). There are so many styles of delicious gin. Price will generally dictate how well the product has been made. More expensive gins will be distilled with juniper and other botanicals while cheap gins will just have extracts and flavorings added. I recommend: Gordon’s London Dry, Citadelle, [and] Beefeater.” — David A. Roth, Head Bartender, Covina, NYC
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“Fords Gin is my go-to. It’s designed for cocktails and is always reasonably priced.” — Ellen Talbot, Lead Bartender, Fable Lounge, Nashville
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“I prefer Hendrick’s gin for the wide range of flavors and aromas. It’s perfect filled and straight up or in many cocktails. The juniper is prominent and the citrus flavors pair well with main ingredients. The botanicals are a great addition on the palate.” — Louis Andia, General Manager, Chikarashi Isso and Nakaji, NYC
“Being a California native, I love the flavors of Junipero Gin by Hotaling & Co. based out of San Francisco. It reminds me of the evergreen and wild sage brush abundantly growing everywhere, and the smells of my childhood, while still very reminiscent of the classic juniper flavors of a London Dry Gin.” — Ashley Guertin, Beverage Director, Barbara Lynch Collective, Boston
“When it came to deciding what gin would go in my well at Queen’s Park, the choice was easy: Beefeater is a workhorse that fits beautifully into pretty much every classic gin cocktail. It definitely fits that Goldilocks type of ‘just right’ in every category: how much juniper is on the palate, acidity, the ABV. It’s everything I want in a gin.” — Laura Newman, Owner, Queen’s Park, Birmingham, Ala.
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“The best bang-for-your-buck gin is Bombay Original London Dry (not to be confused with Sapphire). It’s a crisp, classic London Dry that makes beautiful Martinis, G&Ts, Southsides, White Ladies, and any other classic cocktail that calls for dry gin. It’s juniper-forward but citrusy on its own, and you can find it for under $25 for a full liter.” — Rafa García Febles, Beverage Manager, Le Crocodile, Brooklyn
“Beefeater is my go-to for cocktails, but if I can only have one bottle of gin, it’s always Hendrick’s.” — Brandi Carter, Beverage Director, Elvie’s, Jackson, Miss.
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“Gin is my favorite spirit because it’s versatile and always interesting. I love trying new gins because they are all so distinctive. If you don’t like one in particular, there’s another down the road waiting for you with a varied flavor profile. I’m really into Highclere Castle Gin. It’s bright with citrus and lavender, and it’s lovely for cocktails or simply on the rocks with a twist of orange.” — Michell Boyd, Beverage Manager, Hampton + Hudson, Atlanta
“Bombay White Label. To me, it’s the most underrated gin because Sapphire gets all the love. This is the classic London Dry Gin!” — Fred Dex, Master Sommelier/Wine Entertainer/Founder, Taste Like a Master, Brooklyn