To celebrate World Gin Day on Saturday 9 June, here’s our essential guide to everyone’s favourite juniper spirit, including classic cocktails, recommendations of gins to try, top gin bars and great gin days out.
Seven to try
Beckett’s London Dry Gin
Made with sustainable English juniper and five other botanicals, including locally grown mint, this a classic, crisp London Dry. The fresh notes of mint and lemon lift the palate, with grassiness and a creamy edge to the texture.
£36, John Lewis
The blend of 14 botanicals includes native Scottish plants such as heather and pine, which you’ll be able to sniff out on the nose. The palate is really citrusy, with menthol notes and a creamy nuttiness that lingers on the finish.
This aromatic Spanish gin expresses its Mediterranean mix of botanicals, with a recipe that includes Arbequina olives, basil from Italy and thyme from Greece. The herbal palate finishes with a zesty hit of citrus and spice notes.
No.3 London Dry Gin
Using six botanicals (three fruit and three spice) No.3 offers a big hit of juniper on the palate, but is balanced with fresh citrus and spice notes too, making it a versatile choice for cocktails as well as a G&T.
Made by steeping raspberries in the gin and infusing it with raspberries after distillation, which gives a delicate pink colour and raspberry notes on both the nose and the finish. White pepper notes stop the palate becoming too fruity.
Portobello Road No.171
There’s plenty of juniper on the nose and palate of this proudly London Dry style gin, along with citrus and grassy aromas that are followed by nicely judged spice leading right though the palate to a nutmeg-infused finish.
Salcombe Gin Start Point
Inspired by the 19th century Salcombe ‘fruiters’ who brought exotic fruit to Devon from the West Indies and Azores. Grapefruit, lemon and lime add bright citrus notes to the classic juniper palate, which also shows fiery spice.
Classic gin cocktails
Gin is the key ingredient in a host of iconic mixes. Get gin-spired and try making one of these at home…
GIN & TONIC
A throwback to the days of the British Raj, this refresher can be given a twist with your own choice of tonic and garnish. Our tonic tip: try Fever-Tree or Franklin & Sons. Serve in a balloon wine glass for a Spanish-style GinTonica.
Garnish: Lemon or lime wedge
Method: Fill the glass with plenty of ice. Pour in the gin, top with tonic and give it a stir to mix.
Try it with… Beckett’s London Dry Gin
The punchy English juniper and locally foraged botanicals in this gin create a quintessentially British G&T. Classy and classic.
This sparkler was invented by legendary bartender Harry MacElhone at Harry’s Bar in Paris and is named after the 75mm guns used by French artillery during World War I – but don’t let that put you off.
Garnish: Lemon twist
Method: Put the gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup into a shaker with ice and shake to mix. Double strain into a chilled Champagne flute, top with Champagne and garnish.
10ml lemon juice
5ml sugar syrup
Champagne to top
Try it with… Salcombe Gin Start Point
The notes of grapefruit, lemon and lime that you find in Salcombe add even more citrus punch to this refreshing sparkling cocktail, making a perfect aperitif.
A deceptively simple combo of two ingredients sparks endless debate. Wet or dry? Lemon twist or olive? Either way, making a perfect Martini is an art – and forget James Bond, it should always be stirred not shaken.
Garnish: Lemon twist or olive
Method: Put your Martini glass in the freezer to chill. Put the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with plenty of large ice cubes and stir well for at least 30 seconds. Strain into your chilled glass and garnish.
Try it with… Gin Mare
If you like your Martini garnished with an olive, ask for Gin Mare, which uses olives as one of its botanicals and boasts a distinctive herbal character for savoury sipping.
The Tom Collins recipe first appeared in The Bar-Tenders Guide by Jerry Thomas in 1876. It’s almost identical to a Gin Fizz, which uses the same ingredients but is shaken rather than made in the glass. Give us an easy life…
Garnish: Lemon slice
Method: Fill the glass with ice and pour in the gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup. Top with soda water, stir to mix and garnish.
25ml lemon juice
15ml sugar syrup
50ml soda water
Try it with… Portobello Road No.171
With its classic juniper profile, Portobello Road works in any number of classic gin cocktails, but its spice notes add an extra dimension to this super-citrus concoction.
Created by Hugo Ensslin in New York in 1916, this became a forgotten classic when the Savoy Cocktail Book of 1930 suggested a simpler version of the recipe without the hard-to-find violet liqueur. We prefer our drinks purple.
Method: Put all of the ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake to mix, then double strain into a chilled glass and garnish.
15ml lemon juice
2.5ml crème de violette
Try it with… Edinburgh Gin
The heather aromas in Edinburgh Gin complement the floral violet flavours of this cocktail, while its punchy citrus keeps the mix in balance.
Invented by Count Camillo Negroni in Italy in 1919, this bitter classic has enjoyed a hipster revival – you’ll find it on tap in some bars. But it’s easy to make at home; you can even pre-mix it for a party. (Can we come?)
Garnish: Orange twist
Method: Fill your glass with ice and add all of the ingredients. Stir to mix and garnish.
25ml Italian vermouth
Try it with… No.3 London Dry Gin
With its bone-dry finish, characteristic juniper bitterness and refreshing grapefruit and orange citrus, No.3 makes a great Negroni.
This pretty-in-pink mix dates back to pre-Prohibition times and was invented as the house drink at The Clover Club, a gentlemen’s club in Philadelphia. Several different versions of recipe exist; we prefer this one using fresh raspberries, but you can also use raspberry syrup.
Method: Put all of the ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake hard to mix, then taste. Depending on the ripeness of your raspberries you may need to add a dash more sugar syrup to sweeten, or more lemon juice to increase the tartness. If necessary shake again, then double strain into a chilled coupe and garnish.
15ml French vermouth
15ml lemon juice
10ml sugar syrup
1 egg white
Try it with… Pinkster Gin
This modern gin with a raspberry twist is an ideal partner for this traditional raspberry cocktail, adding a subtle new dimension to the fruit-forward taste.
Best bars for gin
Check out these bars with inspired gin selections and expertly crafted cocktails…
City of London Distillery & Bar, City (above)
The Distillery, Notting Hill
East London Liquor Company, Mile End
London Gin Club, Soho
Gin days out
If you want to visit a distillery or even make your own gin, there are plenty of options. Here’s our top three…
The Ginstitute (above)
186 Portobello Road, London, W11 1LA; 020 3034 2234
Portobello Road Gin runs this Notting Hill venue which includes a distillery, bar, restaurant and rooms – just in case you aren’t up to the trip home after your visit. ‘The Experience’ offers a session on gin history, a visit to the still and the chance to craft your own gin, with tipples along the way. Price: £120
City of London Distillery Gin Lab
22-24 Bride Lane, London, EC4Y 8DT; 020 7936 3636
For a gin day out in the heart of the capital City of London Distillery offers a range of distillery tours and tastings. The ‘Gin Lab Experience’ is a two-hour session that teaches you how to distil and choose botanicals to create your personal recipe, before distilling your bottle in a mini-still. Price: £125
The Gin School at Salcombe Distilling Co (above)
The Boathouse, 28 Island Street, Salcombe, Devon, TQ8 8DP; 01548 288 180
For a gin-themed weekend break, head to Devon, the home of Salcombe Gin. Learn about distilling, then take charge of your mini-still to create your bespoke bottle of gin. Try it out with a range of tonics and garnishes at The Boathouse bar with its estuary view. Price: £100