The 13 Best Gins for Your Home Bar

Ransom's Old Tom Gin
Photo: Michael Ingram

Most mixology buffs will agree that gin is one of the most versatile cocktail spirits—whether you're just pouring in tonic, stirring it into a martini, or shaking it into a much more complex drink. For centuries, it's been a bar staple, and indeed, many of today's predominant brands have a century (or more) of history behind them. But recently, a dizzying number of smaller brands, from America and abroad, have entered the market. So which bottles are worth your time? What's the best gin for a gin and tonic? Here's a quick primer—whether you're into the London Dry classics, newer upstart American brands, or unusual bottles that really expand the definition of the spirit.

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Tanqueray

Tanqueray
Courtesy of Diageo

One of the quintessential London Dry gins, Tanqueray is endlessly useful — as well suited to complex fruity or herbal cocktails as it is a Negroni, Gin & Tonic, or a martini. Juniper-focused, using only four botanicals, it's a classic for a reason; there's no wrong way to use it. Drink it in: Just about anything; start with a G&T.

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Beefeater

Beefeater Gin
Courtesy of Beefeater Gin

Similarly classic. If you like bold juniper and bright citrus—and if you're a fan of London Dry gin, you do—Beefeater is the benchmark to measure against. Up at 94 proof (that's 47 percent ABV), it's a strong spirit in more ways than one—proud and assertive; a gin-drinker's gin. Drink it in: Just about anything; start with a Negroni.

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Plymouth

Plymouth
Courtesy of Plymouth Gin

Ask 10 mixologists how they make their ideal martini; I'd bet they all choose gin over vodka, and I bet more name Plymouth as their gin of choice than any other. All on its own, it's a beautifully balanced spirit that has a real weight to it, with both earthy and citrus elements alongside a strong through-line of juniper. Drink it in: Anything; start with a 2:1 gin-vermouth martini, with a dash of orange bitters and a lemon twist.

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Hendrick's

Hendrick's Gin
Courtesy of Hendrick’s Gin

We've got to hand it to the marketing geniuses at Hendrick's, who practically reinvented the G&T with the simple addition of a cucumber slice. These days, it's one of the most recognizable bottles on any bar, and has a committed fan following. Here's a gin for people who like their juniper toned back a bit, accompanied by pleasant flavors of cucumber and rose. Drink it in: A G&T with Fever Tree tonic and a big slice of cucumber.

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NOLET'S Silver

NOLET'S Gin
Courtesy of NOLET’S Gin

Looking for a gin that's a little lighter and more floral and a little less junipery? Nolet's is for you. Its strong, perfume-like aromas of rose and raspberry leap out, with more classic botanicals as supporting players. Ideal anytime you want to bring out the fruity or floral elements in a cocktail. Drink it in: A French '75.

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The Botanist

The Botanist Gin
Courtesy of The Botanist

The island of Islay, off the Scottish coast, makes some of the world's best Scotch: Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Bowmore. It also makes one of the world's best gins. With 22 botanicals, all foraged locally, it's ridiculously complex, with so many aromas of roots, barks and spices it's hard to pinpoint them all. But there's no need to overthink it. Drink it: On the rocks with a twist, to appreciate its character, before you move on to cocktails.

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Brooklyn Gin

Brooklyn Gin
Courtesy of Brooklyn Gin

We've seen hundreds of American gin distilleries pop up over the last decade or so, but very few with the success of Brooklyn Gin. While many gins contain some citrus peels in their botanical blend, Brooklyn Gin distinguishes itself by using only fresh peels—not dried peels or extracted oils—from five different fruits. While there's still a strong hit of juniper, this gin's fresh citrus aroma is what sets it apart. Drink it in: Bright, lively cocktails such as a gimlet, French '75, or Bee's Knees.

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Dorothy Parker American Gin

Dorothy Parker American Gin
Courtesy of New York Distilling Company

The New York Distilling Company, headquartered in Brooklyn, set out to make spirits intended for cocktails; and for many bartenders in New York and beyond, Dorothy Parker American Gin is where it's at. A contemporary gin with the unusual botanicals of elderberry and dried hibiscus, it's a smooth, balanced spirit that proves a delight in any mixed drink, from the simplest G&T to the most complex mixologist's creation. Drink it in: Cocktails, cocktails, cocktails.

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St. George Gin

St. George Gin
Courtesy of St. George Spirits

It's hard to choose one standout from this California spirit line, so we won't even try. All three gins have a sense of place: primarily the Terroir Gin, of course, with Douglas fir, California bay laurel, and coastal sage among its local botanicals. You'll find 19 diverse, balanced botanicals in the aptly named Botanivore. And the Dry Rye Gin is something else entirely; with a base of 100 percent pot-distilled rye, it has a rye whiskey's spice but a standard gin's juniper. How to drink it: Try each one neat before mixing.

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Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Gin

Monkey 47
Courtesy of Monkey 47

A super-premium German gin made from soft spring water and an eye-popping 47 botanicals—don't even try to guess them all—this amazing spirit manages to be fruity and spicy, robust and delicate all at once. It's pricey, but any true gin fan should take it upon themselves to try it at least once. Drink it in: Something powerful, like a martini or Negroni.

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Gin Mare

Gin Mare
Courtesy of Gin Mare

When we say that many gins taste herbal, we don't literally mean that they taste of fresh herbs like basil and thyme. But that's what you get with Gin Mare, made just outside Barcelona. It's an intensely savory gin with a strong taste of rosemary and olive—such a departure from a traditional gin, but a delight in its own way. Drink it: On the rocks with a twist, or even (and this is a bit unorthodox) in a dirty martini.

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Ransom Old Tom

Ransom's Old Tom Gin
Michael Ingram

Once upon a time, Old Tom was the most popular gin style out there, and Ransom has made an excellent re-creation, deliberately fashioned off the bottles of the mid-19th century. Their Old Tom has a malted barley base and an infusion of botanicals; it's also barrel-aged, the first American-made barrel-aged gin since Prohibition. The resulting spirit has a very faint sweetness and real weight, at its best in cocktails like the Martinez, the predecessor to the martini. Drink it in: A perfect Tom Collins, or Martinez.

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Fords

Fords Gin
Courtesy of Wine.com

Several of our editors are a fan of Fords, and agree that it's a great all-purpose gin. It's made with nine different botanicals, including juniper, bitter orange, cassia, and coriander. Drink it in: On its website, Fords suggests using its gin in French 75s, dry Martinis, gimlets, and more.

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