5 Styles of Gin
Gin’s roots reach back to 16th-century Holland, and the various types that have emerged since then are as different as the eras that produced them. From clear and bone-dry to honey colored, sweet, and fruity, these gins are hardly interchangeable when it comes to mixing drinks. Here’s a guide to the five styles currently available and the cocktails best suited to each one.
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Very dry, light bodied, and pungent, this is what most of us think of when we think of gin. Good for Gin-and-tonics, aviations, dry martinis (see Original Dry Martini). Recommended brands Tanqueray ($29/750 ml; big, piney, and floral); Beefeater ($27/liter; lean and bright, with a distinctive black pepper flavor); Boodles ($27/liter; soft and clean, with a roselike bouquet).
Though originally as rich as a Dutch genever, today this regional gin, made only in Plymouth, England, is as clean and bracing as a London dry. Good for Most any drink in which you might use a London dry gin. Recommended brands There's only one made in Plymouth currently; it's called, appropriately enough, Plymouth ($30/liter; smooth, with plenty of citrus and juniper).
London dry's sweeter, fuller-bodied parent has only recently come back on the market after decades in suspended animation. Good for Tom collinses, gin rickeys, martinezes (see Martinez). Recommended brands Hayman's ($26/750 ml; sweet, with notes of candied orange peel and violets); Ransom ($36/750 ml; rich and spicy, with black pepper and vanilla flavors).
This style—the original—uses a malt-spirit base, making it not unlike a flavored whiskey. Less botanical than the English styles, and more sippable. Good for Sipping straight and chilled, john collinses, gin fixes (see Gin Fix). Recommended brands Bols Genever ($37/750 ml; malty, with a hint of black licorice); Genevieve ($36/750 ml; grainy and hot on the palate).
At their best, these new gins, drawing on an expanded palette of botanicals, are as subtle and intriguing as fine fragrances. Good for Inventing new cocktails, such as the Tante Marie Fizz (see Tante Marie Fizz). Recommended brands Hendrick's ($30/750 ml; delicate and floral); DH Krahn ($25/750 ml; soft over all, briny and earthy); Whitley Neill ($32/750 ml; full, fruity, and very well integrated).