Gin 101: Everything You Need to Know

Happy April! I’m a bit belated on that, but I’ve been out of town so I think I get a pass. I’m back now, though, and I’m excited to be back in the blogging game. I’ve missed you guys!

We’re exploring gin this month. I have to be honest with you, though: gin is not my favorite. But it’s growing on me. When I was younger, I think the strong, herbal, almost medicinal taste of cheap gin turned me away. But now, I’m learning to like those complex flavors. I’ve got a gin guide for you today, so you can be more informed about what bottle to buy for all my cocktail recipes this month.

Now, let’s say chin-chin to gin! // susannah

table of contents

Gin Guide

Nicknamed Mother’s Ruin, gin is a colorless spirit that is usually unaged. It’s made by distilling grains with juniper berries and other aromatics, or botanicals.

Juniper berries are a natural diuretic, and they’ve been used as medicine for centuries. The folks at Serious Eats wrote a fabulous history of gin that explains its roots in Italy, Holland and — of course — Great Britain.

Juniper berries, coriander seed, cardamom pod, citrus peels and cassia bark are just a few of the aromatics that often flavor gin.

Types of gin: 

  • London dry is what most people know as gin. It’s light-bodied and the best for gin-and-tonics, aviations and dry martinis.
  • Plymouth is a rich gin that’s only made in Plymouth, England. It is clean and dry, and suitable anytime you’d use a London dry.
  • A sweeter, more full-bodied version, Old Tom is best for Tom collinses, gin rickeys and martinezes.
  • Genever is the original gin, less herbal and more sippable. Drink it straight or mix it in a John collins or a gin fix.
  • The international style pulls from a wider variety of botanicals worldwide, bringing more worldly flavors to gin.
  • Sloe gin is a fruity version of gin, traditionally plum-flavored. More often than not, it is a misnomer made with vodka and flavoring.

What it tastes like: Herbal, juniper, citrus, smooth, floral, pepper, grassy, spicy, vanilla, licorice, fruity, earthy, bright, piney

Brands of Gin

Popular brands: Tanqueray, Blue Sapphire, Beefeater, Boodles, Plymouth, Hayman’s, Ransom, Bols Genever, Genevieve, Hendrick’s, DH Krahn, Whitley Neill, Seagram’s, Burnett’s, New Amsterdam, Gibley’s, Broker’s, Bulldog, Citadelle

Feast + West favorites: London dry — Tanqueray, Beefeater, TOPO (local – N.C.), Cardinal (local – N.C.)

Gin Recipes

Starring roles: Martini, Gimlet, Gin + Tonic, Jasmin, Negroni, Martinez, Tom Collins, Gin Rickey

Feast + West drinks: Blackberry Gin + Tonic // French 75 // Improved Gin + Jam Cocktail // Pink Lady // Gin Daisy // Blackberry Ramos Gin Fizz // Elderflower Rose Gimlet

World Gin Day: June 13, 2015

Further reading

(Sources // Saveur, Serious Eats)

The Golden Ratio Guide:

Mix the perfect cocktail, every time

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  1. Anne @ Unique Gifter says

    Sloe gin: grandma’s perfume in a glass! Haha. We have some and boy do you have to be careful not to use too much.

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