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Any gin enthusiast should have a firm grasp on the classics, and it doesn’t cost much to educate yourself on the distinguished English gins that bartenders have revered for decades.
American craft gins are enjoying quite a heyday right now, and it’s great to see liquor store shelves stocked with intriguing new spirits flavored with Douglas fir and California bay laurel. But any gin enthusiast should have a firm grasp on the classics, and it doesn’t cost much to educate yourself on the distinguished English gins that bartenders have revered for decades. Every home bar should include at least one of these tasty stalwarts.
(Note: These are English gins, not UK gins, which means no Hendrick’s or Tanqueray. No offense to the Scottish—but those gins deserve their own post.)
One of the original London dry-style gins, Gordon’s was first distilled in 1769. The recipe has remained the same since its inception, but we do know that Gordon’s gets its clean flavor from plenty of juniper berries, coriander seeds and citrus peels. Don’t be afraid of the low price. Gordon’s is a terrific, basic bottle to have on hand for cocktails like gin and tonics and gimlets.
Any gin made in Plymouth, England, is called a Plymouth gin. That said, there is only one brand actually making gin in Plymouth—so really, Plymouth is in a category by itself. Established in 1793, the brand produces three gins: Original Strength, Navy Strength and Sloe. While the Navy Strength is certainly powerful and good in more complex cocktails, the Original is the bottle to buy for everyday drinking. It’s softer than many London dry gins, with a hint of lemon rind.
This London dry gin was introduced in 1845, and recently received a very dapper label makeover. Reportedly a favorite of Winston Churchill (it doesn’t get much more English than that), Boodles is very juniper forward. It isn’t flavored with any citrus, making for a super-dry, ultra-aromatic spirit.
Named for the men who guard the Tower of London, Beefeater gin is a full-bodied spirit that packs a robust punch. That’s because the spirit is steeped with a wide range of distinctly flavored botanicals including lemon peel, Seville orange peel, licorice and almonds. It was first bottled in 1876.