There was a time, not even that long ago, when bartenders had to convince people to try gin. Fortunately for everybody, that time is over.
Not that it was ever that hard. A gin enthusiast could give an impassioned pro-gin polemic if they really wanted to—a long list of indispensable gin cocktails, perhaps, or an exploration of the spirit’s tremendous versatility—but as far as agents of persuasion go, a single sip of an Eastside Rickey is sufficient to win a gin convert for life.
A great cocktail spirit needs to be two things: First, it must elevate the other ingredients and provide the structure for them to express their best selves, and second, it needs to be not so delicious or expensive on its own that using it in a cocktail is seen as a waste. By those criteria, gin is the best cocktail spirit we have. It is dynamic and expressive, idiosyncratic but not a diva, interesting enough on its own but becomes spectacular when mixed. Gin is perfectly comfortable being the center of attention in something like the Tuxedo, but it’s also very happy, as with the Corpse Reviver No. 2, to be the stage on which others sing their songs.
Whether it’s the bracing and seductive Arsenic and Old Lace or the bright and charming French 75, here are seven gin drinks to fall in love with the spirit all over again.
The Bramble is a vibe. “As the days get longer and the sun gains strength,” we wrote around this time last year, “cocktails like the Bramble float back into our minds, as if compelled by the season.” English bartending legend Dick Bradsell invented this charmer back in the 1980s, inspired, he would later explain, “by the fresh blackberries I used to get on the Isle of Wight.” Tart, bright, and fresh, this is essentially a gin sour with a plush kiss of blackberry liqueur, made extra refreshing by crushed ice. Try out the recipe below, or find out what Bradsell had to say about the vodka version of his Bramble here.
- 2 oz. gin
- 0.75 oz. lemon juice
- 0.5 oz. simple syrup
- 0.375-0.5 oz. crème de mûre, to taste
Add gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup to a shaker with a handful of crushed ice. Shake briefly to aerate and incorporate the ingredients, then dump contents into a rocks glass. Top with more crushed ice, then drizzle the crème de mûre on top. Garnish with a lemon slice and a blackberry.
The French 75 pulls off a neat little two-step. The cocktail—gin and lemon juice, electrified with champagne—is equally at home in enthusiastic toasts on New Years Eve as it is deployed into eager hands on a normal Sunday brunch. Wherever you see it, you find it attending celebrations of the sweeter things in life. Not bad for a drink named after a World War I field cannon. Find out more about the three main variations here, or just make our favorite, below:.
- 1 oz. Beefeater Gin
- 0.5 oz. lemon juice
- 0.5 oz. simple syrup (1:1)
- 3 oz. Champagne (real, French Champagne)
Shake first three ingredients over ice. Strain into a chilled flute, and top with about 3 oz. of chilled Champagne.
Arsenic and Old Lace
This variation on the Martini, named for a stage production that came out in 1941, highlights the incredible versatility of gin. The Arsenic and Old Lace is what would happen if you took the resonant clarity of a Martini, and gave it, as we write, “a floral punch from creme de violette and a piquant zing of absinthe.” These two accent marks—a quarter and an eighth of an ounce, respectively—utterly change the character of the drink. Make it for yourself, below, or find out why it took 25 years and two name changes for the cocktail to finally catch on, here:
- 2 oz. gin
- 0.75 oz. dry vermouth
- 0.25 oz. creme de violette
- 0.125 oz. (barspoon) absinthe
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice. Stir well for 10 seconds (if using small ice) to 25 seconds (if using very large ice), strain into a cocktail glass or coupe, and garnish with a lemon peel.
As we come out of the pandemic (we hope) into the first real summer since 2019, it’s time for this century’s 20s to get their long-awaited roar, and the Bee’s Knees—gin, lemon, and honey—is the perfect fit. “It’s a cocktail of the roaring ‘20s,” we write, “a cocktail with a silly name, a simple drink to enjoy the sweetness of springtime and get a little boozy while you’re at it.” Make the classic version below, or find out the many great ways you can tweak it to make it your own here.
- 2 oz. gin
- 0.75 oz. lemon juice
- 0.75 oz. honey syrup (to taste)
Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice, shake hard for 10 to 12 seconds and strain off the ice into a coupe or martini glass. Garnish with a lemon peel, a lemon wheel or even nothing at all.
James Bond has attempted to convince us that the Martini is a vodka drink, but the word “Martini” exclusively referred to a mixture of gin and vermouth for the first half of its life. And while vodka martinis can be charming all their own, we write that “the aromatic complexities of gin and vermouth lock into each other like a vacuum seal, and render the cocktail’s 130-year dominance immediately clear.” If you’ve not had the pleasure, see why it’s among the most popular cocktails in the world by making our favorite version below, or see how different gins demand different preparations here.
- 2.25 oz. Tanqueray 10 or Aviation Gin
- 0.75 oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth
Add ingredients to a mixing glass with ice. Stir well for 10 seconds (if using small ice) to 25 seconds (if using very large ice), strain into a cocktail or Martini glass, and garnish with a lemon peel.
“You could spend weeks drinking nothing but different tasty gin sour variations,” we write, “but personally, I don’t know if you could do better than the Clover Club.” Throughout its 120 year history the Clover Club—a gin sour, tarted up with fresh raspberries and smoothed out with an egg white—has been celebrated, then dismissed, then forgotten, and now, finally, is back on top. Find out what it has to do with Oscar Wilde here, or just do what William Butler Yeats did upon discovering it and make three of them all for yourself by the recipe below:
- 2 oz. Hendrick’s Gin
- 0.75 oz. lemon juice
- 0.75 oz. simple syrup
- 3-5 fresh raspberries
- 1 egg white
Add all ingredients to a shaker tin. “Dry” shake ingredients without ice for five seconds to whip the egg. Add ice, seal tins and shake hard for 10 to 12 seconds. Strain into coupe or martini glass, express a lemon peel over the top of the foam for aroma and discard and garnish with one to three raspberries, on a pick.
The Negroni is perhaps the most universally celebrated drink in the cocktail industry, with a bitterness that makes it an acquired taste, but certainly a taste worth acquiring. There are thousands of recipes online for the Negroni and they’re all more or less the same—equal parts gin, Campari, and Sweet Vermouth—but in the quest for the best Negroni possible, we spent a few months trying every combination we could get our hands on, side by side until we found some winners. Make our very favorite below, or check out the full winner’s circle here.
- 1 oz. Tanqueray Gin
- 1 oz. Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
- 1 oz. Campari
Add all ingredients to a rocks glass with a large piece of ice. Stir for 5 to 10 seconds, and garnish with an orange peel.
Every week bartender Jason O’Bryan mixes his up his favorite drinks for you. Check out his past cocktail recipes.