At the end of a hot summer’s day, is there any cocktail more refreshing than a simple gin and tonic? The bitterness of the tonic cuts through the clean, complex flavor of the gin for a drink that is only made more perfect with a sliver of lime.
Of course, with only three ingredients, this cocktail needs to be made the best gin available. While you might ordinarily turn to something like Tanqueray or Bombay Sapphire, the United States is currently producing some of the best gin in the world. So shift your attention away from the Old World, and instead sip on some of this country’s best artisanal gin, from sea to shining sea.
- Karner Blue Gin from Flag Hill Distillery (Lee, NH)
If you’re just dipping your toes into the wonderful world of gin, Karner Blue Gin from Flag Hill Distillery is an excellent place to start. This crisp, refreshing gin is distilled from local apples, lending a clean, fruity flavor that makes it accessible to all tasters. Not to worry—the earthiness of the juniper cuts through just enough to remind you that you are, indeed, drinking gin and not vodka. The best part of this revitalizing spirit might just be its price tag: at around $30 a bottle, you really can’t go wrong.
- Bluecoat American Dry Gin from Bluecoat American Dry Gin (Philadelphia, PA)
One of the most well balanced gins on this list, Bluecoat American Dry Gin combines herbaceous juniper with sweeter botanicals, like citrus, coriander, and Angelica root. The result a delicately floral gin that is a pleasure to drink from the first sip to the last.
- Leopold’s American Small Batch Gin from Leopold Bros. (Denver, CO)
Named “Best American Gin” by The Wall Street Journal, Leopold’s American Small Batch Gin is uniquely made and remarkably complex. At Leopold’s, they distill the juniper, oranges, coriander, and other botanicals separately, then blend them together for a handcrafted touch that you won’t find with the big names. The addition of zesty pomelo adds an acidic note that makes this gin a little different than those distilled only from orange, while the earthiness of the orris root balances it all out. No one flavor overpowers another, creating a gin that you’ll reach for time and again.
- Portland Dry Gin 33 from New Deal Distillery (Portland, OR)
When you want to sip on a classic, well-rounded gin, the Portland Dry Gin 33 from New Deal Distillery is a great choice. In addition to the standard, resinous flavor from the juniper berry, you’ll also get hints of citrus and pine to round it all out. This gin is a staple that you’ll definitely want to keep on hand.
- Watershed Gin from Catoctin Creek Distilling Company (Purcellville, VA)
The Watershed Gin from Catoctin Creek Distilling Company is just one of the many fine spirits produced here, but is certainly one of the more interesting ones. This rye-based gin has an elaborate flavor profile that is unlike any other gin on this list. Peppery star anise, warming cinnamon and sweet licorice all converge in a pleasant—if complex—way, and are underscored by gin’s signature juniper flavor. This isn’t your grandmother’s gin, and that’s just fine.
- Brooklyn Gin from Brooklyn Gin (Brooklyn, NY)
You’ve probably never heard of this small distillery whose gin is found only in stores and bars around the Northeast, but Brooklyn Gin is worth the trek. As the name suggests, they don’t distill anything other than gin here—and they’ve clearly mastered their art. The makers of this bright, smooth gin pride themselves on doing everything by hand, and their attention to detail shines through in their product. The juniper is hand-cracked and each orange is peeled by hand, allowing for fresher, juicier notes of citrus to come through. Although they’ve had opportunity to expand, Brooklyn Gin has remained purposefully small. It’s clear after just one sip that Brooklyn Gin is made with incredible love and care.
- Aviation Gin from Aviation Gin (Portland, OR)
The distinctive botanicals used to create Aviation Gin are what set it apart from the rest. Lavender, sarsaparilla, cardamom, and anise come together to create a flavor profile that is at once sweet and savory. The classic pairing of citrus and coriander further balances this gin, and gives it a little extra kick. And unlike some of its more overpowering counterparts, Aviation Gin happens to be exceedingly drinkable at 84 proof.
- Barrel Aged Gin from Dry Fly Distilling (Spokane, WA)
You’ve heard of the farm to table movement, but how about the farm to bottle movement? That’s the philosophy at Dry Fly Distilling, which sources its ingredients from local farms around Washington. Their Barrel Aged Gin is a fuller-bodied version of their classic Washington Gin, and is unique in that it’s aged for an entire year. Both prominently feature the calming aroma of lavender and the refreshing taste of crisp apple, creating a gin unlike any other.
- Frey Ranch Gin from Frey Ranch Estate Distilling (Fallon, NV)
The distilling of Frey Ranch Gin is a labor of love, with each batch taking about two weeks to make. Juniper and sagebrush bring the earthiness, which is balanced out by the acidity of lemon and orange. The cardamom adds a warm, woodsy note to this otherwise bracing spirit, making it “smell like a rainy day in Nevada,” according owner Colby Frey. If you can’t make it out to the bucolic 1,200-acre ranch for a tasting, you can pick up Frey Ranch Gin at liquor stores across the West Coast.
- Crater Lake Gin from Crater Lake Spirits (Bend, OR)
Crater Lake Spirits prides itself on its no-frills gin: it’s distilled from juniper berries, and only juniper berries, without the other botanicals commonly found in other gins. The result is a crisp, juniper-forward gin that is both pure and clean on the palate, and the perfect base for any type of gin cocktail. They’ve been around since 1996, but Crater Lake still prides itself on its small batch approach to distilling.
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