A good professional bar should have a range of gin options in order to make the most diverse selection of cocktails available. This is especially true in today's bars that want to appeal to drinkers who want to enjoy classic cocktails as well as innovative, modern gin martinis.
As a professional bartender,... you should familiarize yourself with each of these styles to determine which gin works best in each cocktail. Part of the craft of professional bartending involves experimentation and nowhere is that more true than with the world of gin.
Here are the best choices within each gin category and no top-flight bar should be without any of them.
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Only one gin in the world has its own category and that is the unique Plymouth Gin. Plymouth was a favorite of officers in the British navy and it is seeing a renewed interest among gin and classic cocktail enthusiasts.
Fruity, full bodied and eminently mixable, Plymouth is a must in any quality establishment.
Avoid bars and restaurants that do not carry Plymouth gin but promote themselves as mixology havens. A lack of Plymouth gin is an easy indicator that the bar staff does not truly understand... professional bartending or its requirements.
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Old Tom Gin
Old Tom was a style of gin that died out with Prohibition though it has made a comeback with a resurging interest in classic cocktail recipes. Many modern bartenders are also using those as inspiration to create new cocktails featuring this style.
The flavor of Old Tom Gin falls between the dry gins and the sweet maltiness of genever. It has a fuller body than London dry gins but is less intense than the Dutch genever, which makes it ideal for cocktails.
Essential to recreating many a classic... cocktail, especially the Martinez and Foghorn, Old Tom can be hard to source. Look for Ransom Old Tom Gin or Hayman's Old Tom Gin for the best brands available in the United States.
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Genever is Dutch-style gin, with a higher content of malt and a unique, almost whisky-like flavor. Genever is still limited in the United States, but luckily, Bols Genever is readily available and it remains on of the leading brands of this style.
If you enjoy a full-bodied, rich gin with a balance of botanicals, genever is a perfect choice. You will find it a completely different experience than many dry gins you may be used to.
Bols is finding more use in the bar in both classic and modern... cocktails. Creative mixologists will use Bols Genever anywhere whiskies are called for or in variations on great drinks like the Holland Razor Blade.
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London Dry Gin
These gins are full of botanicals with juniper dominating most in full force. As the name suggests, they have a very dry palate.
If you have to choose only one London Dry, choose Beefeater. It is both the highest quality London Dry as well the most versatile. Try Beefeater or one of its other marques in a Classic... Martini, Gin and Tonic or Last Word to truly see its versatility.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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New American Gin
New American gins are an offshoot of the craft distilling movement in the United States. These gins are primarily designed with mixologists in mind and can have a range of interesting flavors.
There is no set standard for flavor in these gins and each is a completely different experience though some may lean toward any of the above profiles. They are a ton of fun to explore.
Some of the best New American gins include Aviation, Dry Fly and Hendrick's. Use these for new cocktails creations, try... them with tonic, or just sip them on the rocks to enjoy their interesting and unique flavor profiles.
Originally Published: February 23, 2011 - Edited by Colleen Graham