9 Great Gins for Summer Cocktails
Gin is back in a big way. Here are the best ones for your icy summer cocktails.
And you thought you were into gin. At her St. Louis bar The Gin Room, Natasha Bahrami stocks more than 300 different gins, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg (or “ginberg”): She estimates she has another 700 to 800 in her private collection.
The fact that that’s even possible testifies to the extraordinary comeback gin has staged around the world. England and Spain were first out of the gate—Spain’s mania for gin and tonics is possibly second only to its passion for fútbol these days—and in the past three or four years, the U.S. has caught on, too. As Bahrami says, “I think people really want to express themselves when they order a drink now, and gin, with its incredible range of botanical blends, allows them to do exactly that.”
Two of Bahrami’s favorite cocktails are below, plus the top nine gins from a tasting of over 65 that I undertook to help you stock up for a cocktail-filled summer.
Delicate, high-toned, and citrus-forward initially, this French gin shifts to spice notes on the complex finish: cardamom, nutmeg, grains of paradise. It makes for a superb G&T, especially with a bright, fragrant tonic water like Fever-Tree Mediterranean.
Dorothy Parker ($26)
One of the most highly (and justifiably) praised of the recent wave of new American gins, New York Distilling Company’s Dorothy Parker heads to the floral side (thanks to hibiscus petals among the botanicals), though its juniper backbone is unmistakable.
Japanese whiskey has an obsessive following, so it’s no surprise that Suntory has jumped into gin, too. Six Japanese botanicals go into this polished spirit, most distinctly yuzu, green tea, and sansho pepper.
Leopold's Summer Gin ($33)
Leopold Bros., from Denver’s Scott and Todd Leopold, was among the first (and best) American craft gin producers. This version, thanks to its blood orange, lemon myrtle, and immortal flower notes, really does smell like summer in a glass.
Tanqueray No. Ten ($34)
Tanqueray No. Ten remains a citrus-forward benchmark (fresh grapefruit, lime, and orange, as opposed to dried peels, are used for it). Those zesty notes balance against a juniper/coriander backdrop, making it a great switch-hitter for either martinis or G&Ts.
Fords Gin Officers' Reserve ($35)
Despite its 109-proof power, this lightly lemon-bitter, orangey overproof gin from cocktail guru Simon Ford, a percentage of which is aged in amontillado sherry casks, is remarkably engaging and great in a gimlet.
Edinburgh Seaside Gin ($40)
If there was ever an ideal dirty martini gin, this is it. Briny and intense, with a saline finish, this Scottish gin is aptly named given botanicals that include bladder wrack (a type of seaweed) and scurvy grass (which grows on sea cliffs and in salt marshes).
The Botanist ($40)
Scotland’s Bruichladdich Distillery isn’t just good at whiskey: This earthy, peppery gin, made with local botanicals such as bog myrtle, water mint, and wood sage, is subtle and impressive. It’s great for a martini, especially with a lighter vermouth like Dolin.
Barcelona Ginraw ($52)
A chef, sommelier, and master perfumer all joined forces for this Spanish gin. Low-temperature distillation of botanicals such as black cardamom and kaffir lime leaves gives an exotic lift to its juniper-driven base notes.
Below, find two of our favorite gin cocktail recipes.