The World's Best New Gins

When I was wee drunk, my preferred mixed drink was a gin and tonic. Bracing and refreshing, I spent much of my early 20s buzzed on cheap gin and tonics bought at my favorite New York dive bars. (Hey, a man can't get drunk on beer alone!) By and large, I didn't give a darn about the gin I drank. If it was cheap and cold I was a happy camper. For me, gin was gin. Not any more. Producers have finally embraced gin's dizzying array of botanicals and are now experimenting with new techniques and ingredients to make their spirits stand out from the pack.

I've seen dozens of new gins come to fruition since 2012, but it's hard to know which ones merit a taste. For Details, I orchestrated a taste test (tough work, I know) of some of the newest gins to hit the shelves. I assembled a panel of 10 judges and we sampled the spirits both straight and mixed (with seltzer or tonic) and distilled the results down to these stand-outs. Check out my story here. Want the crib sheet? Buy anything and everything from Chicago's Letherebee.

New York Press' Gut Instinct: Gin Yummy

Type in "gin drunk" to a search engine, and this is the result. Huzzah, Internet!

Nine years ago, or maybe it was eight, I met my cousin Jennifer for a wintery dinner in the West Village. We dined at dearly departed, Prohibition-flavored Grange Hall, which has since become Commerce (50 Commerce St., 212-524-2301). It lost Grange’s neighborhood intimacy and my business, but that is neither here nor there.

What matters most is Jennifer’s question. I was standing at Grange’s bar, bottles of amber nectar glowing with the promise of an elevated mood, performing my best imitation of a New Yorker: black Gap slacks, an onyx button-down and obsidian dress shoes as shiny as wax-coated apples. In my Ohio-reared head, I assumed donning this Dracula dress code was the key to making it in the bright lights, big city.

“What do you want to drink?” Jennifer asked. She was a decade my senior, a seasoned vet at a respected publishing firm.

“I’m buying.”

I froze, the question like an icicle stabbing my cerebellum. At the time, I wasn’t indoctrinated into the pleasures of craft beer; to me, a pint of Brooklyn Lager was as exotic as an ostrich. I was better versed in flaming Dr. Peppers and crappy canned beer bearing a 99-cent sticker. Still, I knew that consuming a blazing concoction was not the height of dinnertime chic.

“I’ll have a… gin and tonic,” I said, “with, uh, Beefeater.” A gin and tonic had long been my default cocktail.The vaguely floral beverage spoke of British class, a step up from the proletariats’ preferred vodka tonic. And during those early days of New York living, I drank gin and tonics nearly daily at the sultry, red-hued lounge Sin Sin (248 E. 5th St., 212-253-2222).

My pal Aaron discovered the bar a few weeks into his NYC tenure. He was drawn in by the $3 happy hour (till 8 p.m.). Most evenings, Aaron and I met at Sin Sin around 6:30.We’d quick-drink three or four gin and tonics, before decamping to old-man-dive Holiday Cocktail Lounge or college haunt Blue and Gold. At each venue, the clear, bitter G&T—given a citric edge with a lime twist—was our preferred intoxicant, dulling the edges of our workaday reality.

“Really?” Jennifer said. She was as taken aback as if I’d ordered an Irish car bomb with a chaser of baby’s blood. “That’s a spring and summer drink. What’s your winter cocktail?” Summer drink? Winter drink? I’d never pondered the possibilities of seasonal imbibing. Gettin’ drunk was gettin’ drunk, especially if you were buying. I sipped my gin and tonic quietly, carrying a burning shame as if I’d secretly soiled myself.

Soon afterward, I ditched the gin and tonic. Goodbye, old friend. I experimented with craft beer (why are IPAs so bitter?), bourbon (what happened to my pants?) and old-timey cocktails (where’d my money go?). Gin was a reminder of an earlier era of bad decisions, like that time I ingested psychedelic mushrooms and slept in a park in Amsterdam filled with bike-riding cocaine dealers. I’ve never prayed so hard for sunrise. “I was better versed in flaming Dr. Peppers and crappy canned beer bearing a 99-cent sticker. Still, I knew that consuming a blazing concoction was not the height of dinnertime chic.”

Misguided as my youth may have been, I’m feeling nostalgic for it nowadays. I’m a bona fide thirtysomething, with the gray nose hairs to prove it.Thus, in my dotage, I’m rekindling my teenage love affairs: indie rock, writing typewritten letters and the botanical-scented waters of gin. I’ve discovered that these bright, warm days of early spring are designed for the crisp, sour bliss of the Greyhound. (Squeeze some fresh grapefruit juice, add a dollop of decent gin, finish with a seltzer splash. Drink, sigh, repeat.)

Since I’ve developed a crush on dark spirits, I now adore Ransom Old Tom. Aged in pinot noir barrels, the tawny, mellow potion is a little bit whiskey, a little bit gin and 100-percent delicious. Served straight up or on a rock or two, the flavors of honey, cardamom and vanilla-hinted oak are as revelatory as that religious burning bush.

Continuing my gin-styled explorations, I sampled Bols Genever. Much like whiskey, it’s made with fermented rye, corn and barley; it’s rich and lush, with a malty-sweet current that helps create a novel old-fashioned. But now we get to my much-maligned G&T. Instead of relying on bottom-shelf hooch, I’ve reinvented the old standard with a quality gin such as Martin Miller’s.The British brand packs prickly citric flavors of limes and orange zest, and it marries well with top-notch tonic like the citrus-perfumed Fever- Tree. You scarcely need a lemon squeeze.

It’s a taste of the past, fit for my future.

Read the original article here!