Spring. The clock goes forward, the sweaters get put away, and the gin comes out, yes? Yes. In honor of Gin and Tonic Day, you might want to try a new spirit. Gins are absurdly varied; there’s something for everyone. For example:
Barr Hill Gin ($35)
Barr Hill gin is all about honey. OK, honey and juniper. But honey. Indeed, it’s arguably not a true gin as it’s flavored only with juniper and honey and not citrus or other herbs. On the other hand, the bees forage on what they forage on so all manner of things could technically be expressed. There’s a waxy character to it (in a good way) and springy, complex florals. It’s sensuous and balanced and lovely, and if you are interested in a gin that’s not super-citrusy, you might well be into this one. As a G&T, it’s light but lavish with a warm finish. It’s basically spring in a bottle.
Copper and Kings The Ninth ($35)
Copper and Kings “The Ninth” is an orange-forward gin that’s finished in Curacao barrels. It features honey, orange and blood orange, grapefruit and coriander seed. It’s a little on the hot side and not my draft pick for sipping neat, but I like the concept and think it’s a worthy mixer. In a G&T it’s got a sunny, slightly viscous disposition and good balance. (The maker recommends it for Negronis too; I haven’t tried this but don’t disagree in theory.)
Gin Mare ($33)
From Spain, Gin Mare is herbaceous and elegant, a paean to careful sourcing and workmanship. Sweet and bitter oranges, estate juniper berries, rosemary and thyme and basil. Also, the juice of Arbequina olives. The word here is “savory.” If the word “sweet” puts you off even in description of a distillate, check out this bottle. Spanish G&Ts might become your new 5:00 friend.
Hendrick’s Orbium ($42)
OK: This emphatically is my draft pick for sipping neat, though it might not be everyone’s. This limited edition gin is a masterpiece; gold-standard regular Hendrick’s with added quinine, wormwood and blue lotus flower (all of which have major league medicinal qualities, though I am not 100% on how much of that survives the production process). It’s weighty and rounded and bittersweet and if you are a huge fan of tonic water’s cinchona-tastic flavor, this makes a very doubled-down G&T. If you like your quinine on the subtle side, try this one with plain soda.
Neversink Gin ($47)
This is a light, “nouveau” kind of gin distilled from an apple spirit base. If you are easily overwhelmed by the botanicals in gin, look out for this one; it’s graceful and delicate and not a powerhouse personality. Juniper notes are a bit suppressed, florals are more forward, and a warm coriander-ish note is present. An unchallenging G&T, which can be a lovely thing; not all of us want to be “challenged” by a beverage. Would also be a good pick for a Martini.
The Botanist ($30)
A quirky-in-a-great-way gin from Islay, land of heavy-hitter whiskies. Expressing the terroir of Islay via hand-foraged botanicals, it has a “bursting” quality in the mouth and a whole lot of citrus, along with complex appley, minty and juniper-y tones. Woodsy and lush with a long, spicy finish, it’s a gin with a lot of personality and a very un-boring G&T.