Gin. There are people who absolutely love the stuff, some who tolerate it, and others who avoid it at all costs. Many of us have a personal connection to gin, whether good or bad, along with thoughts and feelings associated with the polarizing spirit.

I have memories of being a young man, watching my family enjoy gin libations, sometimes with just too little tonic. When I became of age, I would buck the trends of saccharin-sweet cocktails and opt instead for the taste of cool, crisp, shaken gin martinis. To say I have an affinity for gin would be an understatement; it’s such a versatile spirit and can be enjoyed any day of the year.

Saturday, June 8, is World Gin Day, and what a fitting time to enjoy a spirit that is indeed quite worldly. From its classic roots of the Dutch Genever to London Dry, and the modern American style to across the Pacific in Japan, gin is produced and enjoyed around the globe.

The history of gin is centered around the juniper berry and the powerful naval forces that controlled the spice trade. The Dutch take full credit for introducing the Old World to Genever in the 1600s. Britain was next to catch the gin bug, as the nobles from Holland crossed the channel and found a foothold in the United Kingdom. From there, the spirit spread through Europe and into the New World, with each terroir adding its unique style of production and botanicals.

Today, we have numerous styles of gin being produced, along with an ever-expanding compendium of gin cocktails. Here are a few of my favorites along with some recipes that can be easily replicated.

Genever

Bols Genever from Amsterdam is distilled three times in copper pot stills from a recipe of rye, corn, and wheat. It’s blended with a neutral grain spirit and infused with juniper berries, botanicals, and aromatics. The viscosity of Genever is great for a stirred cocktail, but the maltiness can also taste fantastic when shaken with citrus.

Red Light Negroni

In a double-old fashioned glass:

1 oz Bols Genever

1 oz Galliano L’ Apertivo

1 oz Carpano Antica Formula

Stir with cubed ice for 10-12 seconds and garnish with an orange peel

Army & Navy

In a shaking tin:

2 oz. Bols Genever

.75 oz. fresh lemon juice

.75 oz. Giffard orgeat

1 dash Angostura bitters

Shake hard with cubed ice for 8-10 seconds and fine strain into a chilled coupe

Garnish with a lemon peel

London Dry Gin

Broker’s London Dry Gin imports their herbs, spices, and fruits from three continents. This classic London dry has a sweet aroma of juniper and citrus. The medium-high of 94 proof is best suited with some fresh citrus and carbonation.

Lavender Collins

In a shaking tin:

1.5 oz. Broker’s Gin

.75 oz fresh lemon juice

.75 oz Monin lavender syrup

Shake hard with cubed ice for 8-10 seconds and strain over fresh ice into a collins glass

Top with soda water and garnish with a lemon wheel

 

Navy Strength

Ford’s Officers’ Reserve over-proof gin is made in London with nine different botanicals and aged in Amontillado Sherry casks for three weeks. This is a robust spirit at 109 proof that works best in bold, full-bodied cocktails.

No. 1 Dress

In a mixing glass:

1.5 oz. Ford’s Officers’ Reserve Gin

.75 oz. Routin Blanc Vermouth

.75 oz. Bodegas Dios Baco Jerez Fino Sherry

Stir with cubed ice for 10-12 seconds.

Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with a lemon twist

 

New Wave

While Hendrick’s and Botanist are both distilled in Scotland, they could not be more different. Hendrick’s is made in two distinct stills and has delicate flavors of juniper, rose petal and cucumber. It is suggested to employ it in a classic G&T. Botanist comes the Bruichladdich distillery on Islay, where they use 22 indigenous botanicals to create a gin that tastes great in a classic martini. In Japan, the Kyoto Distillery is dedicated to making only gin and only using sourced Japanese ingredients. In addition to the necessary juniper and other botanicals, they blend Yuzu, Sansho pepper and Gyokuro green tea. The result is a delicately complex gin that is delightful and tastes fantastic over ice or with a touch of sparkling water.

Hendrick’s Gin & Tonic

In a double old fashioned glass:

Fill with cubed ice

2 oz. Hendrick’s Gin

Fill with Q Drinks tonic water

Garnish with a slice of cucumber

Botanist Martini

In a mixing glass:

2 oz. Botanist Gin

.75 oz. Routin Dry Vermouth

2-3 dashes Regan’s No. 6 orange bitters

Stir with cubed ice for 10-12 seconds.

Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with your choice of a lemon twist or an olive

Ki No Bi & Bubbles

In a collins glass:

Fill with cubed ice

2 oz. Ki No Bi Gin

Fill with Q Drinks soda water

Garnish with a slice of candied ginger

 

American

St. George Terroir gin from Alameda, California, utilizes wild-crafted Douglas fir and California bay laurel, along with ten more botanicals to create a true forest in a bottle. This spirit should be enjoyed neat or in a stirred cocktail. FEW Breakfast Gin is made in Chicago, Illinois, and incorporates Earl Grey tea to balance out the juniper and citrus notes. With the tea aspect to this gin, it works great with honey and lemon.

Terroir 50/50

In a mixing glass:

1.5 oz. St. George Terroir Gin

1.5 oz. Carpano Dry Vermouth

2-3 dashes Angostura orange bitters

Stir with cubed ice for 10-12 seconds

Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with a grapefruit peel

Bee’s Knees

In a mixing tin:

1.5 oz. FEW Breakfast Gin

.75 oz. fresh lemon juice

.5 oz. Honey syrup (1:1 ratio of honey to water)

Shake hard with cubed ice for 8-10 seconds

Fine strain into a chilled coupe, garnish with a lemon twist

About the Author

Willem Van Leuven is a Craft & Luxury Spirits Specialist for Young’s Market Company in San Diego, California. His passion for craft spirits stems from over 18 years of hospitality experience working in bars and restaurants throughout Southern California. He was previously the president of the San Diego chapter of the United States Bartender’s Guild and continues to be active in the San Diego cocktail community. When he’s not talking about libations, you can find him enjoying them both stateside and abroad, often in Mexico.