Gin is one of those spirits that never really cycles in or out of fashion. It has always been consumed in both humble and intricate cocktails, thanks to its versatility and botanical flavor profiles. Non-gin drinkers seem to think that all gin tastes the same, but there are so many brands on the market, each with complex and intricately developed botanical profiles. Put simply, it isn’t just about Tanqueray and Bombay anymore when it comes to choosing a great gin.
Outside of the booming brands like Hendrick’s, small-batch gin is starting to really take off. In the case of Portland-based Gompers Gin, a combination of tradition and a desire to create a gin like no other has resulted in a spirit that perfectly intermingles both. You may not have heard of Gompers Gin just yet, but it will soon be ubiquitous in cocktail bar menus and liquor stores across the country.
Like most small-batch spirits, Gompers Gin comes with a compelling personal story. The spirit is named for Herman Gompers, a Dutch baker and man who led a pretty incredible life. Before opening a famed Los Angeles bakery frequented by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Gompers also hid in a tiny room in Holland to avoid Nazis during the Holocaust despite being caught and escaping twice.
Gompers’ granddaughter Jessica Hart, also a baker, decided to carry on her grandfather’s “inspired” legacy by creating a gin that reflected his zest for life in the face of adversity. The resulting product, Gompers Gin, is a fitting tribute. After trying it in the Tasting Room at the San Antonio Cocktail Conference last month, picking up a bottle to make cocktails with at home was an absolute necessity.
Gompers Gin doesn’t look anything like the other gins on the shelf, thanks in large part to its light yellow, or “blonde” color. This color is derived from the gin’s botanicals, which include lavender, golden pear, and, of course, Oregon-grown juniper berries. Oregon juniper is widely considered to be the best domestic source of fresh berries, and it must be hand-picked to ensure that the berries, which take three years to ripen, are all top quality.
In flavor, Gompers Gin also provides a little something different. It is a very citrus-forward gin, and easy to sip without much more than a splash of soda or tonic. The “perfumey” quality that is usually a turn-off to gin-haters is almost non-existent. If anything, it is more herbal and citrusy than floral, which makes it perfect for light, drinkable cocktails. Mixed into a gin martini, it is delicate without being boring, and provides nuance when other gins would knock you over the head.
The gin’s lavender and pear notes are especially complimented by floral liqueurs like creme de violette and elderflower liqueur, and can benefit from the sweetness that both provide. A burst of acidity from lemon or lime juice will also amplify Gompers’ citrus notes, which makes it perfect in applications like a French 75 or gin gimlet. Overly bitter flavors may not work well with this delicate spirit, but a few dashes of citrus or cherry bitters will improve any cocktail, including those mixed with Gompers Gin.
Gin drinkers tend to fall into two camps—those that enjoy the intensely herbal and botanical flavor profiles, and people who want to drink something more interesting than vodka. Gompers is a gin that can satisfy both groups, if only because it’s just so incredibly drinkable without being boring and flat. The flavors here are subtle, but they are well-developed, and sure to equally please the snobbiest of gin drinkers and newbies alike.
Even though it has only been on the market for a few years, Gompers Gin is relatively easy to find at most larger liquor stores, and makes a welcome addition for your at-home stash of booze. Whether simply mixed with tonic or shaken into a more complicated cocktail, it’s a versatile gin that can be used in most cocktail applications. If you’re an entry-level gin drinker, Gompers can introduce you into an entirely new world of spirits, each as intricately flavored as the next.