Gin Is Back In!

Gin is back! This wonderful liquor has languished in the shadow cast by vodka for almost 50 years, but 21st century mixologists with a passion for retro-cocktails have restored gin to a prominent place behind the bar. Check local liquor store shelves in Kansas and Missouri, and where there were once just a few famous brands to be found, now there are forgotten historic styles as well as new names crafting elegant and innovative interpretations of traditional gin.

Before World War II, gin was the key ingredient in many legendary cocktails—the Negroni, the French 75, the Tom Collins and the Martini. Vodka began to supplant gin during the 1950s, and by the time James Bond was ordering on film, the vodka martini was this icon’s drink of choice. Gin didn’t vanish, but it took a back seat to vodka. Established brands like Bombay, Beefeater and Tanqueray dominated what was now a niche market, and as flavored vodkas proliferated on the cocktail scene, there was little innovation in gin styles.

The base of gin’s flavors and aroma is the juniper berry. Like vodka, gin is a grain neutral spirit, but gin differs in that it uses various plants, called botanicals, to infuse the liquor with their essences during the production process. Other botanicals besides juniper include orange peel, coriander, licorice and angelica root, though the number and proportions vary. Gin was invented by the Dutch, and spread quickly to England where it was the liquor of choice.

Dutch Genever is lower in alcohol than the more famous London Dry Gin; 30 to 40 percent vs. 40 to 47 percent. Genever comes in two styles, Oude (old) and Jonge (young).  Both are milder than London Dry—Jonge resembles vodka with a subtle juniper flavor while Oude is golden in color and resembles a hybrid of whiskey and gin. Unlike London Dry, Genever is often served unmixed and at temperatures ranging from room temperature to well-chilled.

In England, the original style was called ‘Old Tom,’ and was a sweeter version of what evolved into the famous style known as London Dry. The juniper-dominated flavors of London Dry are what most people think of when they think of gin; the other styles hovered near extinction until the past 10 years, when new generations of mixologists and craft distillers began to explore gin’s history.

Distillers have also begun playing with the botanical recipes of dry gin. Instead of letting juniper dominate, flowers, fruit and vegetables have became key components. Hendrick’s, with its cucumber and rose petal notes, is the best-known of these contemporary gins, but other distilleries are releasing new gins regularly and no serious bar is complete without an assortment of these gins — available at stores such as Lukas, Gomer’s, Mike’s Discount Liquors and others!

Top notch London Dry gin. Great balance of aromas and flavors, and great texture. A great intro to classic gin.
Classic Dry Martini
2 oz. Gin
1/2 oz. dry white vermouth (vary to taste)
Ice to fill
Combine ingredients and stir (that’s right!) then strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with olives.

Hayman’s Old Tom Gin
An example of the rare and sweeter “Old Tom” English gin. This makes a magical Tom Collins.
Tom Collins
In a tall glass combine:
2 oz. Gin
1 oz. lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
In a tall glass combine ingredients, stir and then fill glass with ice. Fill with club soda.

Boomsma Oude Jenever
Great gin in the old Dutch style. Subtle juniper, but the wood-aging and malty base lend this vanilla, apple and baking spice notes. Enjoy neat!

Recommended Contemporary Gins:

Trades juniper for cucumbers and rose petal botanicals. Mellower than London Dry Gins, and shows subtle sweetness without seeming sugary.
Cucumber Cooler:
1½ oz Hendrick’s Gin
3/4 oz. St. Germain liqueur
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
1/4 oz. simple syrup
5 mint leaves
In a tall glass muddle ingredients. Add ice and top glass with soda water. Add cucumber slice for garnish.

G’Vine ‘Floraison’
This French gin is like a glassful of flowers and green grapes. Unique, and a mixologist favorite.
Floraison Negroni
1½ oz. Gin
1½ oz. Campari
1½ oz. Sweet Vermouth
Add ingredients to ice-filled old-fashioned glass. Stir and garnish with orange peel.

Classic Dry Martini Tom Collins Boomsma Oude Jenever Cucumber Cooler Floraison Negroni