Gin is at the core of many of the great cocktails, and yet it often plays second fiddle to whiskey and vodka. What would become of the Martini, the Gimlet, the Singapore Sling, and the ever-coveted G&T without the delights of GIN?
Dating back to the Middle Ages, Gin takes it name from the Dutch word for the juniper berries that give Gin its distinctive flavor. The white spirit is distilled from grains and infused with juniper berries, along with other herbs and spices, making it a versatile base for a variety of tastes. One of the broadest categories of spirits, Gin is represented by a range of products from various origins, styles, and flavor profiles – all revolving around juniper as a common ingredient.
We don’t think Gin is second best, in fact with think it is THE best. As a result, we have put together The Spade Six of Gin – Six of our favorite places to drink Gin and the Six drinks we like the best.
1. The Finnieston – Glasgow, Scotland, UK
The Finnieston Club Cocktail:
Gin, house made Orange Sherbet, Lime Juice, Grenadine, Yellow Chartreuse
One of our favorite spots in Glasgow for fish & chips, is also our favorite spot for Gin. The Finnieston is ready for you in any weather – the cozy interior, with the roaring fire is perfect in the grey and gloom, but the secret garden out the back is also the perfect spot to luxuriate in the sun – and no matter what state the weather is, Gin is the thing to drink.
The Finnieston has an extensive Gin menu offering patrons a vast range of Gin & Tonic options, Martinis to make even James Bond you swoon, as well as all of the Gin classics and contemporary cocktails. Our pick of the extensive Gin offerings is the house special, The Finnieston Club Cocktail, inspired by the Glaswegian cocktail culture and the club cocktails of legendary bars of a bygone era. The house made Orange Sherbet is what really sets this drink apart, bringing a tangy refreshing flair, paired with Lime Juice, Grenadine, Yellow Chartreuse, and of course the Gin – in this case, Caorunn Gin, a small batch Scottish Gin.
And since you’re there, you may as well have another Gin tipple and some fish & chips.
2. Scofflaw – Chicago, IL, USA
Letherbee Distillers Gin, Ruby Port, Black & White Peppercorns,
Lime, Mint, Strawberry Ice
If Gin is your pleasure, then Scofflaw is where you need to be. This superb corner spot in Logan Square is reminiscent of a speakeasy, littered with an eclectic mix of seating options. The cocktail menu leans heavily on all manner of combinations involving Gin. The darkened interior, lit by flickering candles and a fireplace to warm by in the chilly Chicago winter, this a great place to start your evening, or end it, or really just stay put. In the summer the outdoor patio begs for long drinking sessions. The Chattanooga Outlaw is our pick of this menu – the contrast of the peppercorns with the lime and strawberry, and the tang of the Ruby Port make this drink a sweet and savory tall glass of refreshment.
As an evening on the town recommendation, only a hop, skip and a jump away from Parson’s Chicken & Fish, our suggestion is with a belly full of friend chicken, wander over to Scofflaw for post dinner aperitifs, Gin based of course.
3.The Patterson House – Nashville, TN, USA
Romeo & Juliet:
Plymouth Gin, Lime, Mint, Cucumber, Rose Water
Having cocktails at The Patterson House is a true pleasure. There are strict rules, all which become clear once you have gained entry behind the heavy velvet curtain. Never overcrowded or too loud and unruly, admittance is strictly limited to seating – there is a no standing at the bar policy, patrons are neatly tucked into their booths and tables amidst a candle lit glow. No cowboy boots or blaring country music, just the hum of chatter, cocktail shakers and ambient music. The cocktail menu covers the full gamut of spirits and liquor but one of our favorite libations is the Romeo & Juliet. The mix of Lime, Mint, Cucumber and Rose Water really bring out the inherent flavors steeped in the Gin. And set amongst the ambiance of The Patterson House, you would think you had traveled back in time to a hidden speakeasy of the 1930s, illicit bathtub Gin hooch in hand.
Romeo & Juliet
4. Packard’s New American Kitchen – Oklahoma City, OK, USA
Gin Old Fashioned:
Oak Aged Gin, Simple Syrup, Lemon Bitters, Jerry Thomas
Decanter Bitters, and a Lemon Twist
Oklahoma City is seeing a resurgence of eating and drinking establishments. Right in the midst is Packard’s New American Kitchen – housed in the old Packard’s dealership. You’ll see the many references to automobiles in this part of town, harking back to the glory days of Route 66 when Oklahoma City was a prominent stop. Packard’s New American Kitchen is a full-scale restaurant with an outstanding bar that conjures up eloquent drinking options. If you are often torn between a whiskey or gin based drink, then Packard’s has the answer for you, their Gin Old Fashioned.
Packard’s Gin Old Fashioned is made with Prairie Wolf Loyal Gin, which they then age in oak barrels. The aging time depends on how new the barrel is but this usually takes 2-6 months. The oak aging mellows out the Gin slightly, and moves it more toward Whiskey, picking up the caramel and vanilla notes from the American oak barrels. Once the Gin is ready, the standard Old Fashioned recipe is used – Oak aged Gin, 1:1 Simple Syrup, Lemon Bitters, Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters and a lemon twist. John from Packard’s makes special note that the lemon bitters can make or break an Old Fashioned, tending towards Bitter Truth’s Lemon Bitters over others.
For more information on Bitters, see our article, Here Till the Bitter End.
Gin Old Fashioned
5. Cocktail Bar – Toronto, ON, Canada
Lavender Gin, Red Grapefruit, Lemon, Maldon
This tiny little spot is a hidden oasis, you’d be forgiven for missing it when you walk by. Part of the Hoof trio on Dundas Street West in Toronto, the discrete sign in the window unobtrusively announces its purpose, Cocktail Bar. Enter up a few steps and you’re in, the bar and seating are about equal in size, it is an intimate and beautiful space. When the mercury hits a bearable temperature, there is a patio, which doubles the size of the seating options. This is where you want a Gin drink in hand – the walled surroundings keeps you hidden from the street, and tucked safely away like you are sitting in a friend’s backyard. The string of lights, the warm summer breeze, and the chatter of fellow drinkers makes for the perfect evening of sipping and idling the night away. Our drink of choice for this type of evening is the Lavender Hound. A citrusy blend of Red Grapefruit juice, Lemon and Maldon against the fragrant Lavender infused Gin make this cocktail the perfect summery treat.
6. New Heights, The Gin Joint – Washington, DC, USA
Bespoke for you
Underneath New Heights Restaurant on Calvert Street in Northwest Washington, DC is The Gin Joint, devoted to all things Gin. The Gin Joint makes its own house-made, small batch tonics, and houses an impressive collection of styles and makes of Gin from around the world. The Gin Joint bartenders, or mixologists, are great at teaching you all about the different types of Gins, and after a discussion of your likes and preferences, they will create for you, your own bespoke cocktail. In the case of The Gin Joint, rather than recommend a drink of choice, our suggestion is that you grab a seat at the bar, strike up a conversation with the mixologist, and see where the Gin takes you.