The recent gin boom has introduced an exorbitant number of unfamiliar bottles for drinkers to choose from. Some of these new-wave gins have a strong focus on terroir and provenance, highlighting the spirit’s unique ability to showcase botanicals local to a specific region; others seek to mimic the traditional juniper-forward profiles of a London dry; others still are hot pink.
While these offerings have provided fresh flavors for bartenders to experiment with, they’ve also flooded store shelves, making it difficult to parse one bottle from the next. According to Dawn Davies, head buyer for the online retailer Whisky Exchange, this has only driven consumers back toward the classics. “In times of uncertainty, we like to go back to familiarity—and, in the case of gin, that means London dry–style gins with some nuance,” she says. “Over the last six months, our bestselling gins, both online and on-trade, have been modern classics such as Sipsmith, The Botanist, Hendrick’s and so on.”
The appeal of these bestsellers is, undoubtedly, their versatility: In a cocktail, gin’s botanicals must be balanced and not overpowering. For many bartenders, that means sticking to expressions that embrace the core botanicals, such as juniper, coriander, angelica root and citrus peel. “When it comes to choosing a spirit like gin, we generally go for one that doesn’t have a flavor profile that dominates other flavors,” says Guillaume Quenza, head bartender and co-owner at Fréquence in Paris. “We want the gin to have a nice texture, balanced flavor with a long finish, and [be] at least 80 proof or higher to stand up to the other flavors paired with it.”
At Scarfes Bar in London, head bartender Yann Bouvignies often starts with the vision and overall flavor profile of the drink, then works backwards to find a gin that has complementary botanicals. “The beauty of gin is that it can be so diverse, which is perfect for creating an array of different styles of cocktails,” he says.
With this breadth of gins on the market, there is undoubtedly a gin for every cocktail and occasion—though some are more adaptable than others. To cut through the fat, we surveyed 13 bartenders from around the world, asking for their go-to gins for mixing in cocktails. Here’s what they had to say.