Shake up your gin routine this summer

We have a minimalist approach to building a home bar.

Although there are seasonal shifts in our home cocktail drinking, gin is by far the most replaced bottle on our bar cart. We remain die-hard London dry fans, but we reach for the new Western gin styles for shaken drinks in summer.

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While there are some gin predecessors worth researching — like genever, old tom gin and sloe gin — we’ll focus here on the two dominant types, and one up-and-coming style.

London dry is the traditional juniper-dominant gin that folks know and love — or hate. Examples include Beefeater, Bombay and Hayman’s.

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In new Western gins, the juniper is less pronounced, and other flavors stand out, like citrus, basil, cucumber, bay laurel and bergamot. Popular examples are Hendrick’s, Aviation and Hat Trick Botanical.

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Pink gin originally was a delicious martini-like cocktail of London dry gin and several dashes of bitters — traditionally, angostura, although New Orleans-based Peychaud’s is our preference. Now, there is a bizarre category of gins that are colored and flavored, using pink fruits, flowers or even rhubarb. These are made by traditional houses like Gordon’s and newer distillers, such as Glendalough from Ireland.


Hayman’s London Dry. If we’re forced to choose a single gin, London dry is it, and Hayman’s is one of our favorites, especially for a classic 50/50 martini or a bracing gin and tonic.

Hat Trick Extraordinarily Fine Botanical Gin. From High Wire Distillery in Charleston, South Carolina, this one has classic gin botanicals, but the orange and lemon peel notes are pleasantly dominant. This is our favorite gin for a Southside — gin’s answer to a mojito.

St. George Terroir. With dominant notes of Douglas fir, bay laurel and sage, this domestic gin is an ode to the California wilderness. Not at all shy, it makes a profoundly complex martini, and dials a gin and tonic up to 11. It gets murky when mixed with too many ingredients; keep things simple and let it be the star.

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If you order a Southside nowadays, you’re likely to get a drink resembling a mint gimlet. This fizz version, with crushed ice, might be more akin to the original, and is delightfully refreshing.

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