Rants & Raves
July 1, 2023
Gin - A Delicious Comeback

Gin has been around since the 1500s. Today, it's making a comeback as an artisanal spirit, made by craft distilleries using a wide range of aromatic and flavorful ingredients.


Gin has been around for a long time, starting in 1550 when Dutch physician Franciscus Sylvius began prescribing a juniper-based spirit for medicinal purposes. It became popular in the UK in 1689 when Dutch king William III (better known as William of Orange) introduced this traditionally Dutch drink called genever at the time (eventually shortened to "gin") to his subjects.

While a few hundred years to establish gin as a highly regarded spirit overseas, it did not gain acceptance in America until the 19th century. During the Roaring 20s, gin was exceptionally popular, gaining notoriety from the members of the Algonquin Round Table including Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Harpo Marx and many other luminaries of the day. It was also an essential ingredient in martini lunches, as colorfully depicted in recent episodes of the television show Mad Men. Today, gin is making a comeback as an artisanal, premium spirit.


Gin that follows tradition features juniper berries as its dominant ingredient. While this style is the most prevalent, there are brands taking flavorful advantage of a wide variety of fruits, berries, herbs, spices and other aromatic botanicals. Some also incorporate barrel aging, producing flavorful notes of vanilla, peach, coconut, oak and smoke along with a distinctive golden hue.

The current popularity and appreciation of gin can be attributed to several influences. It is well known that Ernest Hemingway and Frank Sinatra enjoyed gin martinis. Similarly, James Bond, known for vodka martinis, shaken not stirred, started out drinking gin martinis in Ian Fleming's first 007 adventure, Casino Royale.

Increasing consumption can also be attributed to the craft cocktail movement. It is a highly versatile spirit, making it perfect as the foundation for a wide range of creatively conceived cocktails. Of note, especially during warmer months, is the refreshing Gin & Tonic. Gin is also an integral part of the Negroni (gin, sweet vermouth, Campari with a twist of orange), considered one the most popular cocktails in the world.


Every time I open my browser, it seems there's a new list proclaiming the best gins around. While I've certainly learned and added a few new brands to my liquor cabinet, I thought I'd highlight a few of my own favorites. Appreciating the great lengths taken to create these distinctive and flavorful gins, I drink them all on the rocks. I see no reason to mask them with tonic or any other mixers. At most, a twist of lemon is sufficient.

Bar Hill Reserve Tom Cat Gin (Vermont)   Aged in oak barrels, this amber elixir is a bold and beautiful expression of gin.

Bulldog Gin (UK)   A modern interpretation of London dry gins that includes a harmonious blend of twelve exotic botanicals.

Dorothy Parker Gin (New York)   Made with both traditional and contemporary botanicals, there's subtle cinnamon note that makes this one special.

Few Barrel Gin (Chicago)   This barrel-aged spirit tastes like gin with the maturity of bourbon. Once you get started, you won't want to stop.

Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin (Australia)   Shiraz grapes give this delightful gin its distinctly purple hue and fruity flavor. If you must use mixers, it makes a visually stunning gin & tonic.

Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin (Germany)   This gin boasts 47 botanicals and other ingredients. If you are going to make a martini, this is the gin to use.

Nikka Coffey Gin (Japan)   I have been consistently impressed by the spirits coming out of Japan. The citrus notes in this particular gin make it a winner.

Nolet's Silver Gin (Netherlands)   This floral and fruit-forward gin opened my eyes to a new flavor experience. Delicious just by itself.


Jeffrey Spear has been writing about food, creating culinary brands, developing recipes and producing cookbooks for more than 40 years. If you're looking to enhance the impact of your culinary brand, or simply need someone to tell your story in ways that are visually and emotionally appealing, give Jeff a call: 866 787 8761 - or shoot him an email: jeff@studiospear.com