Too often, gin and all its merits are reduced to a single flavor. Typically that’s juniper, the dominant note in some of the industry’s most famous offerings, like Beefeater and Tanqueray. But increasingly, bartenders around the country are seeking out gins with more complicated flavor profiles that are often expressive of the places where they’re made. These bottles could have flavors of citrus or spices, and are perfect for mixing into everything from a Martini to a Negroni to a Gin & Tonic. To get the lowdown on some of the most exciting options on the market right now, we asked bartenders to share the newest bottle of gin that they’ve added to their back bars. Here’s what they said.
The most exciting new bottles of gin, according to bartenders:
- Arbikie Distillery Nàdar Gin
- Principe de los Apostoles
- Martin Miller
- Wilde Irish Gin
- Forthave Blue
- Condesa Gin
- Sipsmith London Dry
- Porters Old Tom Tropical Gin
- McQueen and the Velvet Fog
- Hapusa Himalayan Dry Gin
“Here at Little Saint, we are big fans of Nàdar Gin from the Arbikie Distillery in Scotland. It is a climate-positive gin made from peas that has found its way into a number of our cocktails. It plays well with others, is delicious on its own, and is helping the planet. Win-win-win. Insider tip: They also make a vodka.” —Matthew Siegel, Little Saint, Healdsburg, Calif.
“This gin was created in Argentina by the owner of Floreria Atlantico, one of the best cocktail bars in Buenos Aires, Tato Giovanni. He intended for it to be less like a London Dry style and be able to mix well with the ingredients found in South America. You will find tasting notes of eucalyptus, pink grapefruit skins, and South America’s famous tea, yerba mate. Tato decided to use the undried leaves of yerba mate to bring out the more floral notes of the tea. This gin is very easily drunk in a Gin & Tonic or in any classic cocktail. I, like many bartenders out there, love Negronis and believe that Apostoles matches very well with the grapefruit notes of Campari and the herbal qualities you find in some vermouths.” —Agustina Sofo, bartender, El Che Steakhouse & Bar, Chicago
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“One of the best gins that’s earned a spot on my bar is from Martin Miller. It’s a bit of a chameleon gin, easily standing up to often-dominant flavors in shaken drinks as well as the robust ingredients of stirred cocktails. It fits well into any style and doesn’t get lost in the mix! Sipped neat, you get a tiny hint of cucumber. Really an all-around top tier spirit.” —Keith Meicher, beverage director, Sepia, Chicago
“It’s the Wilde Irish Gin. Just like Ireland, it’s fiery, feisty, and super green.” —Alex Pisi, lead bartender, The Wells, Washington, D.C.
“One cool new gin that I have been really enjoying is Principe de los Apostoles. It’s a unique Argentinian gin that has some interesting nontraditional botanicals. Besides juniper you’ll find peperina, eucalyptus, yerba mate, and grapefruit skin. It’s a very pronounced gin that makes a great herbal Gimlet and fantastic Pengo Club.” —Jazz Craft, beverage director, Proxi, Chicago
“Of all the gins I’ve seen come and go behind bars over the years, Forthave Blue coming out of Brooklyn, New York, is truly exceptional. American gin is typically an afterthought in a lot of bars, but I see that changing with products like Blue. Rather than a London Dry style that’s front-loaded with juniper, Forthave’s Blue is an incredible botanical blend that makes a killer Martini. Because of its unique flavor profile, I find myself featuring it most in drinks where the gin really is the star. A 2:1 wet Martini with some orange bitters and a lemon twist is the perfect simple but elevated drink to feature all that Blue has to offer. The gin is bright, floral, and round and should absolutely be seen on more back bars around the country.” —Allison Desy, bartender, Lutèce, Washington, D.C.
“Condesa Gin. It’s micro-batched, dry, versatile and well-balanced. It’s great in cocktails or chilled on its own with a twist of lemon or even grapefruit. It’s also female-distilled.” —Jason Atlan, bartender, Park Lane New York, New York City
“I’m such a huge fan of what Sipsmith is doing with their product. Their traditional London Dry is such a great Martini gin. And the VJOP — though it will get the party started after a few introductory sips — is an incredible high-proof with such immense volume that you won’t notice a few going down. It’s absolutely viscous, like oil in a coupe. The product itself speaks for itself, but my favorite part of this company is their ownership’s dedication to education and creativity.” —Nick Perdue, beverage director, Tzeva, Sarasota, Fla.
“The Porters Old Tom Tropical Gin has been one of my favorites and has quickly been a back bar go-to for us. It’s vacuum-distilled with papaya, guava, and white tea and is mildly sweetened, lending itself very well to classic spirit-forward cocktails like a Martini with a twist or a fun Negroni. It especially shines in citrus-based drinks. It’s a fantastic gin for someone wary about [trying] gin!” —Alexis Haase, beverage director, Oyster House, Philadelphia
“McQueen and the Velvet Fog. With its eccentric name and classic gin flavor, it was an easy addition to the bar for our upcoming spring cocktails and current favorable trend towards gin drinks for the summer.” —Blair Mathieson, bar manager, LG’s Bar + Kitchen, Chicago
“A newer gin I’ve been using is the Hapusa Himalayan Dry Gin. ‘Hapusa,’ which means juniper in Sanskrit, is distilled in India and uses locally sourced botanicals from across the country including juniper foraged from the Himalayas, ginger, turmeric, mango, almonds, and Gondhorag (a distant cousin to Kaffir limes). For us, it just makes sense to have a gin with the spice notes provided by the tumeric and ginger. Considering that the Gin & Tonic’s birthplace is India, this gin is great in a classic G&T as well as with any Negroni variation.” —Sulaiman Popal, bar manager, Lapis, Washington, D.C.