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Your favorite gin for classic cocktails?

In drinks like the aviation, pegu club, white lady etc, where the mixers are relatively light and citrusy, would you use a less juniper -forward gin than in drinks with stronger/bolder ingredients, like perhaps the Martinez with 2 oz of sweet vermouth? Best gin for a martini has been discussed to death but I'm interested specifically in a gin that will go well in these types of drinks. Obviously it's a matter of personal taste but I'd like to know how the drinks are intended to taste before I play around to see how I like them. I'm near the end of my first bottle of Beefeater and trying to determine whether I should buy another bottle of the same, or if another gin would do better. Both budget and space are an issue, so I'm trying to narrow it down to one or two brands that will cover a wide range of drinks.

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  1. Unless a classic recipe calls for another historic style of gin, such as Plymouth, Old Tom, or genever, it can be made with a classic London Dry such as Beefeater. I suggest you buy a different London Dry just before your Beefeater is gone, then make two identical half-sized drinks, one with each gin, and see which you like better. Measure and shake consistently. Also, taste them at room temp, perhaps with a controlled amount of water. I like juniper, so I find that I can happily mix and drink a Martini with the same gin.

    If, OTOH, you don't like a strong juniper profile, you could try one of the new-style gins, or perhaps Plymouth. For a London Dry, you could try Gordon (well-respected and very economical) or maybe Bombay (regular).

    --
    www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

    1 Reply
    1. re: EvergreenDan

      I've been extremely happy with a few drinks I've made with the Beefeater- Martinez, Opera (I believe) recently, both with sweet vermouth. However, the drinks with lightweight mixers have been unimpressive. I made an Aviation without creme de violette (which is sacrilege of course but I can't justify a 750ml bottle for one drink) and was completely underwhelmed- it tasted just like slightly lemony sweetened gin. I don't dislike the taste of juniper but I'm thinking that maybe I would prefer a softer gin in these types of mixed drinks.

      It looks like I might have to stock two different gins, as I was thinking originally. I've seen a lot of recommendations for Plymouth, so I may spring for it and see how I like it in comparison. I figure if I switch from Beefeater to Gordon's for now, I can afford the difference. :)

    2. I second the Bombay White Label as a versatile mixer. I also like Tanqueray as it just screams classic to me with the juniper punch and high proof.

      For me the budget option would be Seagram's. It is a bit lighter and more citrusy, so I find it mixes well, especially in drinks with citrus juice.

      Those are the three best all-around bang for the buck options that I've tried. At most of the liquor stores around here (Boston), you save a lot by buying a 1.75L, so the bottles usually last a while. I found Beefeater to have more of a mineral character than I like, but it is another classic that a lot of people enjoy.

      5 Replies
      1. re: nickls

        +1 on Bombay. I think it's a nearly perfect London Dry gin, and quite affordable.

        1. re: davis_sq_pro

          How does Bombay compare to Beefeater or Gordons?

          1. re: tinnywatty

            I haven't had Gordon's for a long time and can't really remember it. I'd say that Bombay and Beefeater are relatively similar. Bombay is clean, juniper-forward, and somewhat sharp. Tasting it you definitely know you're drinking gin (unlike with, e.g., the Sapphire). I think it would be tough for me to tell the difference between it and Beefeater in most mixed drinks, although I do find the Beefeater to be a bit more "earthy." (Maybe that's sweetness? Or, "mineral character" that nickls mentioned. It doesn't bother me, but I can see how someone might prefer Bombay.)

            1. re: tinnywatty

              Bombay is a nice balance of citrus, juniper, and spices. I found Beefeater to have a more aggressive flavor with juniper and mineral/slate. Gordon's is also strong on the juniper with what I consider a "classic gin taste" but with less complexity than some of the others.

            2. re: davis_sq_pro

              I really like the regular Bombay. For another gin in this price range, I would recommend Boodles. I also have no issue with the affordable Seagram's or Gordon's.

          2. I can't tell you it is the best gin for "those type of drinks". And it is not a "budget" gin. But I would sure do yourself a favor and try Hendricks. Where I shop you can buy a mini and try it. $3.99.

            I love the stuff.

            FOTD

            13 Replies
            1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

              FotD,

              Have you tried Citadelle? I find it very similar in profile to Hendrick's and much cheaper here, $20 vs $35, on sale $17 vs $31. (Hendricks is high in NC, I got it on sale in PA for $26.)

              Broker's is my favorite Juniper-forward gin, though I have yet to open my bottle of Boodles. Budget-wise it would be Seagram's Distiller's Reserve, at just over $20 for a 1.75 ltr.

              1. re: ncyankee101

                No I have not. I believe I may have had it recommended at my store. Doesn't it have like 20 some odd different botanicals or something like that?

                I will try it! Thanks!

                FOTD

                1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

                  It has 19 and they are all shown in little pictures around the bottle.

                  i quite like it, though I haven't had all that many gins that are subtle in character such as Plymouth or Bombay Sapphire - really just Hendricks and Citadelle.

                  1. re: ncyankee101

                    Thanks alot for the tip. I will try it next. That is exactly the bottle I am thinking of...

                    FOTD

              2. re: FriendOfTheDevil

                I'm interested in trying Hendricks as well as Citadelle. Do you use Hendricks in all drinks, or specific ones?

                1. re: tinnywatty

                  For the ones I drink. I use it for all. I don't really drink Martinis so I am not sure about that. I usually drink Negronis, A Gin Fizz sort of thing, Gin with St. Germain and mixers and the Last Word. I like it with all of those. Makes a great Negroni IMO....

                  FOTD

                  1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

                    Good to know. I'll give it a try once I find a mini under $6.

                    1. re: tinnywatty

                      I dont care for hendrick's in a negroni, it needs a strong gin to stand up to the sweet vermouth and the campari IMO

                      I lik original tanq for negronis - but i really dont drink tanq with anything else

                      I just think Negroni calls for a different type of gin than one i would use with tonic or club soda - needs a juniper forward one

                      I have tried with beefeater 24 / nolets / hendricks / beefeater / tanq
                      tanq is the winner for far but i wouldnt mind trying a junipero one

                      1. re: Dapuma

                        Maybe it is because I use sort of a 1.5 oz G, 1 oz campari, 3/4 oz or so Vermouth (depending on brand)....

                        1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

                          ahh, that is not the traditional negroni ratios should be 1:1:1 to be a negroni

                            1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

                              sometimes i like a splash of club soda in mine, but don't tell anyone - i dont want to get burned at the stake ;p

                2. re: FriendOfTheDevil

                  FOTD: If you like Hendricks, you may also enjoy Victoria Gin, which is made in British Columbia. It is akin to Hendricks without the strong perfume-like taste [despite both using rose petals as a botanical].

                3. I like Beefeater for my London Dry. It's affordable and versatile, and I use it in everything from a Gin and Tonic to a martini. The 1.75L bottle is a great value typically, especially on sale. I like to rotate other brands, like Plymouth, Hendricks or Boodles for variety, but always come back to Beefeater as an old standby.

                  1. Thanks for all the replies, some really great information and perspectives. I decided to get a bottle of Plymouth to try in the drinks where I thought the Beefeater was too strong. I'll decide later if I want to continue stocking Beefeater or replace it with Gordon's or maybe Bombay.

                    1. I'm sort of a believer of saving my booze dollars for the good stuff like whiskey, rum, cognac, where dollars really make a huge dif. I would NEVER buy a spendy vodka.

                      With regard to gin, I hear ya on the delicate cocktail front, and some of the best gins really can be drunk just chilled or iced down and strained. That said, as soon as soon as y ou are mixing I find it hard to justify $40 bottles of gine (e.g. Hendricks).

                      My go to gin is either Beafeater or actually Gordon's if you can get past the plastic bottle. Really quite good stuff. Does a great Aviation.

                      But another reasonable brand to try with lighter cocktails is Seagram's with the groovy bumpy bottle. Has some nice creamy notes that I think would go quite well with a pegu club... Really a very nice and unique style of gin at a budget price.

                      Then use the money you save to buy a bottle of El Dorado 15 year, or Barrilito 3 star.

                      47 Replies
                      1. re: StriperGuy

                        So does that mean you'd recommend against Plymouth gin? I definitely don't have a developed or particularly sensitive palate yet, since I'm only one month into being 21, but I was really underwhelmed by drinks like the Pegu Club, Aviation, etc, and I was hoping that a lighter gin would do better in those. I did really enjoy the Beefeater in cocktails containing sweet vermouth- I thought the botanicals and sweetness balanced very well.

                        1. re: tinnywatty

                          Oh yeah- and I don't know if I'm yet at the point where I'd really appreciate the nuances of an expensive rum/whiskey/cognac.

                          1. re: tinnywatty

                            Hmmmm, Beefeater is a pretty traditional Juniper-tasting gin.

                            Been a while since I had Plymouth so I don't really remember.

                            Do you like a traditional gin martini made with say Beafeater or Tanqueray? Crazy statement, but if you don't like an aviation or a pegu club... wait for it... maybe you don't like gin.

                            Some of the newer fangled gins, Hendick's in particular are so light on the Juniper as to barley taste like gin in my book. The spectrum of classic traditional gins: Tanqueray, Bombay, Gordon's, Beafeater (Seagram's is a bit distinct) all have that classic Juniper taste.

                            Why are you shooting for gin drinks in the first place?

                            1. re: StriperGuy

                              Not sure which Seagram's you are talking about, the "extra dry" or "distiller's reserve" (I think they both come in the bumpy bottles but not sure about the ED.) I have tried them side by side and find the DR has substantially more juniper and is closer to the traditional style.

                              1. re: ncyankee101

                                Think it was just the extra dry to which I was referring.

                              2. re: StriperGuy

                                I like Beefeater all right by itself and I don't mind the botanicals. I haven't had the chance to make a martini yet.

                                I'm not shooting specifically for gin drinks, just trying out a wide range of drinks with various spirits to see what I like. When I first asked this question, I wanted to know if perhaps I was using the wrong kind of gin, since some of the drinks weren't quite what I expected, and I saw a definite pattern- the gin drinks I liked used sweet vermouth, the others mainly used Cointreau/lemon etc and tasted too "ginny".

                                1. re: tinnywatty

                                  Hmmmm... gin and citrus ain't your thing.

                                  Try a martini and see what you think. I had one last night... excellent. In fact, think I'll have another tonight.

                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                    Me too. I mixed up something with too much anise. Rather than drink it, I made a quickie Martini. No good olives, but crappy little ones sufficed. One of the world's great drinks -- one of the few I could drink every night. Sitting outside in the warm afternoon light didn't hurt.

                                2. re: StriperGuy

                                  I'm indifferent to an aviation, but I am a huge gin drinker ...

                                  1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                    You drink gin? I had no idea ;-)

                                    Tell her about the buck, hawkeye.

                                    1. re: ncyankee101

                                      Yankee: I now refuse to let her in on it! ; )

                                  2. re: StriperGuy

                                    i dont care for aviations but a less juniper forward gin might be nice in a pegu club (i try putting nolet's in everything) but it is very unique so doesnt always work and its expensive, probably not the thing for the OP

                                    nolets rocks and some simple syrup or st germain is good stuff (perhaps not as a first drink but 2nd or 3rd is good)

                                    I would think Hendricks would do a Pegu club proud as well

                                    1. re: Dapuma

                                      That's why I recommended the Seagram's. Less Junipery...

                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                        ahh - not sure if i ever knowingly had seagram's gin

                                        only thing i think i ever had seargrams was a 7 and 7

                                  3. re: tinnywatty

                                    If the money is a big concern, I would start with Seagram's before you try Plymouth. Plymouth became the darling of a lot of bartenders for its mixability, but the fact that they jacked up its price from around $15-$17 to $27-30 says a lot I think. I agree with Striper that it can be hard to pay a lot for any gin knowing that they don't cost much to make and you can get a 1.75L of one of the classics for less than a 750ml of some of the pricier ones. I don't think I will ever buy a bottle of Nolet's for example.

                                    Also, I found the Aviation and Pegu to be tricky to find a pleasing ratio and I never really liked the White Lady, so that might be part of the issue. You might want to try something a bit easier drinking like a Clover Club or a Bebbo.

                                    1. re: nickls

                                      I have tried the Clover Club and was also unimpressed, although I used grenadine since my recipe indicated that it could be substituted for raspberry syrup, and I don't really like the taste of pomegranates/grenadine.

                                      I should be able to get Plymouth for about $21 here on sale but I'll also consider Seagram's first since budget is a definite concern.

                                  4. re: StriperGuy

                                    How do you drink your vodka and what do you consider "spendy"? I'm guessing that you don't drink it straight up chilled or you'd say that dollars do make difference in a vodka. I can drink just about anything Smirnoff/Gordons or above in a screwdriver or a bloody mary. I can drink brands like stoli or absolut in a vodka & soda. If I'm drinking my vodka straight though (which I often do), I need something better. That's true of any spirit.

                                    1. re: bg90027

                                      I'm going to repost this for about the dozenth time - mainly because you mention Smirnoff as one you would only use in a drink masking its taste, and partly because I agree with many that spending much on vodka is just paying for marketing and pretty bottles.

                                      http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/26/din...

                                      My personal experience is limited, as I don't have much interest in Vodka - but i do keep a bottle on hand for those mixed drinks where using gin instead just wouldn't work. I have a bottle of Sobieski I paid $10 for on sale (which has been highly recommended by people on this board whose opinions I trust) and I find it a pleasant tasting vodka, even neat.

                                      I also have a bottle of Smirnoff red label, and have compared the two in a blind side by side test. Next to the Sobieski, the Smirnoff tasted like water - so it is an excellent example of a neutral spirit. The Sobieski does have a mild though not unpleasant taste, possibly leftover from having been made from rye.

                                      1. re: bg90027

                                        "If I'm drinking my vodka straight though (which I often do), I need something better. That's true of any spirit." No it's not.

                                        Have you tried tasting 5-10 of the top vodkas blind?

                                        Most vodka is essentially colorless flavorless marketing in a bottle. See the endless threads on chowhound, or the NY times article linked to above.

                                        My favorite comment on the topic is from Sidney Frank, the many who created Grey Goose. He created it, "because people want to pay more":

                                        http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/bizfina...

                                        I've probably linked to that article 20 times on chound. Knock yourself out if you want to pay for pricey vodka though...

                                        Anything beyond Smirnoff or Sobieski (actually a great Rye vodka) is a waste. Most times you can find Sobieski for $20 or so a 1.75L bottle here in Boston. Great stuff with a nice dash of rye flavor, surprisingly distinct for the usually indistinct category of vodka.

                                        Most of the pricey ones, Gray Goose, Tito's, etc are essentially just commodity ethanol in a pretty bottle.

                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                          Striperguy,

                                          The two vodkas that finished just behind Smirnoff in the NY Times comparison I referenced were both Polish rye vodkas - Wybrowa and Belvedere - can't be a coincidence. I wonder where Sobieski would have placed.

                                          1. re: ncyankee101

                                            I've actually wondered what Sobieski would taste like if you got a hold of an old Jim Beam Barrel, and aged some Sobieski in it for for or 10 years. My guess is you'd have a damn nice Rye.

                                            1. re: ncyankee101

                                              I'm not going to waste my time trying to convince you or StriperGuy that you should be drinking a more expensive Vodka. That would be a waste of time and this thead is supposed to be about gin anyway.

                                              I just felt compelled to not allow StriperGuy's original opinion to stand unchallenged. I would never argue that anyone who can't tell the difference between vodkas should buy more expensive ones. I'm not a champagne drinker and I'm not confident that I could tell the difference between a good champagne that might retail for $20-40 and a bottle that would be much more expensive. I wouldn't be so arrogant though to suggest that because I can't, others can't. I don't think there's really much support for the conclusions you are drawing from the articles you posted. Of course, a lot of what you are paying for when you buy any of the top 10 vodkas by sales is their marketing budget. That is true for ANY type of consumer product so why do you think that means Vodka is any different than whiskey, rum or wine. Most of the vodka producers I like are small without large marketing budgets anyway. And 20 people preferring Smirnoff to other vodkas is next to meaningless. You are just accepting it as reinforcement to your own bias when you believe that and disbelieve all the independent reviews which rate many vodkas above Smirnoff.

                                              If you can't tell the difference, don't drink or like vodka a lot or always drink it mixed in a way that masks the (admittedly often subtle) distinctions than you shouldn't pay more for a "better" vodka. I have a case of Smirnoff at home though that I do use for Bloody Marys but I can absolutely tell the difference between it and the superior vodkas which I drink straight.

                                              1. re: bg90027

                                                The fact that it was a panel of 20 industry professionals certainly makes it more meaningful than if it were just 20 random people off the street, or some individual blogger who got a freebie of an expensive vodka to review and would like to keep them coming.

                                                I did see an independent review that rated Smirnoff 2 stars out of 5. The guy's favorite chaser is Diet Mountain Dew, which I think is the most vile diet soda in history (despite the fact that I liked regular mountain dew when I drank soda) so I don't place much credence in his opinion LOL.

                                                In any event, I just don't find vodka interesting enough to debate to any great length so this will be my last post on the subject. For the same money as an "ultra-premium" vodka I could get a world-class rum, an excellent Bourbon, or decent Scotch or Tequila, so I just don't see the point.

                                                1. re: ncyankee101

                                                  I was assuming that it was probably industry professionals but I didn't see anywhere in the article where it said definitively that it was. Even so, it's not the only ranking by industry professionals. I don't think any others I've ever seen ranked Smirnoff #1 which is why the writer thought it was newsworthy to begin with.

                                                  I'm not arguing with you that YOU should buy more expensive vodka. I just find the insinuation (more from StriperGuy than you) insulting that any who does is a big dope.

                                                  And for the record, my everyday vodkas are typically brands that go for under $30/750ml. I'm not suggesting that anyone go nuts and buy a $100 bottle like Jewel of Russia Ultra. It's fantastic but admittedly not really worth the money.

                                                  1. re: bg90027

                                                    Hey Under $30 is not crazy regardless.

                                                    And I'm not saying you are a dope if you buy pricey vodka.

                                                    What I am saying is that until you have tasted your 5 favorite vodka's in a double blinded taste test, against less pricey hooch, you may be spending money on a pretty bottle.

                                                    This is particularly true of vodka where the process of making it really can't be improved. Ferment, distill, filter, add water to dilute down to bottle strength... you are done.

                                                    I'd love to know if in a blind taste test you can taste the difference between Jewel of Russia and "lesser" vodkas. My money says probably not.

                                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                                      Fair enough and my apologies if I overreacted to what was maybe just a strongly worded opinion. I don't want to divert this thread too much further and I agree that there's there are stronger differences in flavor among whiskeys than vodkas. Still, I think you're overstating the case. There are distinguishable differences between vodkas. Some distill from grains. Some distill from potatoes. Some distill from grapes. The filtration processes and how many times filtered vary. Others even age their vodkas for a short period in oak to make a smoother vodka with hints of vanilla. The article you posted even acknowledged that the vodkas tasted different. The judges just preferred the Smirnoff. I'm confident that I could tell the difference between Jewel of Russia and what I'd consider vodkas for mixed drinks and even the big luxury brands. I'm not sure that I'd be able to tell the difference between it and all of the great, artisanal small producers. I've already acknowledged it's not worth the $100 price, part of which is really for the bottle itself which is hand painted and numbered.

                                                      Back to gin discussion...

                                            2. re: StriperGuy

                                              I didn't read the article yet. This all based on taste correct? Is it not true that some more expensive product may be more refined and cause less hangover etc? ie- Distilled four times instead of three, etc...

                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                Not to get into the general vodka argument, but I just moved away from Boston a few months ago and at least in late 2011 Tito's was definitely not what I would call a "pricey" vodka. In fact, for a while I could find the 1.75L bottles for under $20. Though near the end of my residency that price only held for the standard 750mL.

                                                Still, while not as cheap as Sobieski (I think what's his name (Aaron perhaps?) at Russel House Tavern used to be an ambassador of some type for that brand), not in the category of pricey (which is an indication of the power of marketing). And perhaps my favorite vodka to have on hand in my bar.

                                                1. re: Canadian Tuxedo

                                                  The thread is drifting, but the problem with Tito's (at least based on what I have read elsewhere on this board) is that the distiller buys commodity neutral grain spirits, runs them through his pot still, and calls it artisan. The rustic, handmade marketing scheme is all false. Most vodka comes from the same sources (ie most of the brands don't ferment and distill themselves) but at least a majority of those other brands don't try to label their product as artisan.

                                                  I've never tried Tito's but I probably won't based on this information. I have found potato-based Luksusowa to be very inexpensive, smooth and serviceable since I rarely use vodka, and the bottle looks a little nicer in my collection than Smirnoff (which as we all know has won the NY Times taste test, etc).

                                                  1. re: tinnywatty

                                                    Yah, that's my issue with Tito's. You are basically buying ConAgra ethanol in a folksy bottle and he essentially lies about the artisan nature of the product.

                                                    1. re: tinnywatty

                                                      I think the newer rounded Smirnoff bottle style is actually rather sleek and modern looking, better than the older squared off one.

                                                      1. re: ncyankee101

                                                        I'll definitely give you that. But I do like having brands in my collection that friends haven't heard of- gives me an opportunity to educate them on something new and also circumvent possible prejudices. Also, my bottle of Luksusowa has a plain silver label (I've also seen red labels) and I think it blends in better with the other bottles than the bright Smirnoff label. I don't want my vodka to be the standout bottle on the bar- I'll leave that to something more interesting. Right now the most noticeable label/packaging is probably Luxardo Maraschino.

                                                        1. re: tinnywatty

                                                          Decant it into a bottle of your choice. Grey Goose. Or better, find an antique apothecary Sulfuric Acid bottle. ;)

                                                          1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                            Sulfuric acid would be fun, but I definitely wouldn't want Grey Goose on my bar! :)

                                                          2. re: tinnywatty

                                                            Luxardo is definitely on my list to get. My most "distinctive" bottle would have to be this one - I'll leave it up to you what you think it looks like ;-) (actually a pretty good tequila, one of several I have tied for 5th on my faves list) - ignore the price I paid $29)

                                                            http://www.shopritewines.com/vsku1488...

                                                            1. re: ncyankee101

                                                              Hehehe- that one definitely stands out.
                                                              I'm glad I sprung for the Luxardo- I and my drink "guinea pigs" have really enjoyed every drink I made with it except for the Aviation that started this thread. It adds an underlying note that, since it doesn't taste like anything I've ever had before, makes the drinks very interesting.

                                                              1. re: tinnywatty

                                                                Gosh I went through pitchers of Aviations at a party I had. What recipe did you use?

                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                  I used the one from Robert Hess's book (which does not include Creme de Violette- I'm sure this is part of the problem) I don't have Creme de Violette and with limited budget as well as space can't really justify buying it since it's only used in a couple of drinks and comes in a gigantic bottle.

                                                                  2oz gin (I used Beefeater)
                                                                  1/2 oz maraschino (I used Luxardo, which I love)
                                                                  1/4 oz fresh lemon juice

                                                                  It tasted like slightly sweetened gin to me, maybe with a hint of lemon. Beefeater has been similarly prominent in the Pegu Club, white lady, and clover club (while I've really enjoyed it in sweet vermouth cocktails like the Martinez). That's why I started this thread- to find out if I was using a definitively wrong kind of gin for these lighter, citrusy cocktails, or if they were just not to my taste.

                                                                  1. re: tinnywatty

                                                                    The Violette only has a VERY minor effect on the cocktail, but is is noticeable. Really rounds things out and puts some flesh on the drink. I agree though that it is a big bottle that will essentially last a lifetime.

                                                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                      I would add that the effect you described is the *desired* effect, but many recipes call for too much. The Rothman & Winter is reportedly much more potent than the new Tempus Fugit (which I have yet to see or taste). With Rothman & Winter, about 1/2 tsp is enough for me.

                                                                      --
                                                                      www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                                                                        1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                          I agree. A little goes a long way. Has anybody tried creme yvette? How did the taste compare to R&W in an Aviation?

                                                                          1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                            I wish they would sell this stuff in the 50ml bottles!

                                                            2. re: tinnywatty

                                                              All I have to say, especially considering your remarks about how bottles look, is so what?

                                                              In terms of vodka I like the taste, no matter how they market themselves. Haven't we already established marketing as the real price mover in vodka?

                                                              It is this same reason that I'm against Plymouth. Started out relatively cheap, but once it became popular in cocktail bars they increased the price by $10. Yet in terms of taste, for me at least, it is not a solid London dry or a new aromatic product. It's the closest thing I've come to tasting a gin that tastes like vodka...but just my opinion.

                                                              But I find that it became a "cool" gin and as the price went up so did the accolades...not unlike vodka.

                                                              1. re: Canadian Tuxedo

                                                                Yep, that irritates me about plymouth too and it's the main reason I haven't vouht it yet. And regarding the bottles, I would absolutely not buy a bottle of liquor simply for the looks if there were a better product in an uglier bottle (unless too expensive, etc). However, in this particular case, Luksusowa looks nicer to my eye, costs two dollars less, is tasteless and has an acceptable creamy texture, so I'm perfectly happy with it.

                                                                1. re: tinnywatty

                                                                  I understand you now and fully agree.

                                                                  Though I will admit to being tempted by certain bottles just for the pure joy/ridiculousness of the packaging. But a recent move has drastically reduced my bar space so such indulgences cannot be tolerated when I need the room for the stuff I actually like...

                                                                  1. re: Canadian Tuxedo

                                                                    Oh yes- pretty packaging is always a temptation. I'm space limited as well, though, so as much as possible I pick one, very versatile, bottle. (Although it looks like I may be stocking two for gin, depending what I think of Seagrams or Plymouth if I can bring myself to shelve my morals). I'll admit to being a little snobbish in favor of lesser-known brands, which is part of my preference for Luksusowa over Smirnoff. I figure that as long as I'm getting a great product that I'm happy with, and I'm not buying something expensive just for the name, it's all good.

                                                    2. I grew up on and stuck by good old Tanq for years and years, with the occasional Beefeater or Bombay Dry when a bar or club had limited selection. For me, Taqueray was gin. It was the first gin I ever tried, and I loved my first taste. For a gin and tonic or bitter lemon it couldn't be beat. But then I started wondering what I might be missing. I have spent the last year or so slowly trying various gins of various types and price ranges, and have discovered that i tend to prefer a more classic London dry gin in most cocktails (probably due to years of Tanqueray conditioning).

                                                      Various gins seem shine in certain types of drinks, yet just don't work very well in others. I thought I hated martinis, but found out that's because Tanq doesn't make a good one (at least not one I find to be good). The day I had a martini made with Citadelle gin and Noilly Prat changed my mind about martinis. I have since found several other gins that make a great martini, including Plymouth, Bombay Dry (not Saphire) and Boodles.

                                                      In my opinion, Plymouth seems to work well in the widest variety of cocktails. It's not exactly the most exciting gin (and is increasingly more expensive) but it plays well with a wide range of flavors, and does not have any one flavor that predominates or overpowers. I have made some drinks that I felt a bolder, more assertive classic london dry gin (such as Broker's which in my opinion is one of the best gins out there and can be found at a great price) would have cut through a bit better and made for a more satisfying drink (at least for my palate). But I have never had a drink where I felt like Plymouth tasted bad or wrong. It's not going to offend anybody. It's just a good workhorse gin. Excellent in a martini, binds any cocktail flavors together well, and good (though not assertive enough for me) with tonic.

                                                      I personally have very sensitive tastes when it comes to the quality (or my own perception of quality) of the neutral spirits component of gins. To me, some of the lower-priced gins like Gordon's give me the impression that the neutral spirits are "sloppily" made--sort of that "cheap drunk" taste. Plymouth has none of that. It has a clean, highly-refined alcohol flavor profile. My favorite gins for G&T are Tanqueray and Boodle's (with Broker's a very close third, only because of a bitter undertone emerging when mixed with tonic that I sometimes actually prefer depending on my mood). For martinis, Citadelle is amazingly complex and light (but not too light), with a French subtlety and fragrance that I just adore. If you like Bombay Saffire, Citadelle is somewhat similar, but way better. Boodle's and Plymouth are also very nice for martinis (as is The Botanist, if you like more grassy, herbal flavors). Hendrick's is very unique, and makes for a very different and "weightless" martini experience, and works well in certain more contemporary cocktails with sweet/citrus fruits, mint, basil or (of course) cucumber. To me it's too much like all these "new western" gins--very high quality, but kind of anemic and too similar to vodka. New Amsterdam tastes like someone's attempt to make Hendrick's using artificial flavorings and sweeteners. I regret that purchase. Seagram's is the best, most well-balanced "cheap" gin I have found, and does quite well in a G&T, a Tom Collins or anywhere a healthy dose of juniper and citrus flavors are called for. Tanqueray 10 is very flavorful, works very well in sweet, citrus-forward mixed drinks, such as an Aviation, and makes for a refreshing but sweet G&T. I have yet to try any Old Tom gins, and there are still many interesting gins I have not had a chance to sample. It's fun to discover new gins and find out what they taste like, what ingredients they work with, etc.

                                                      I keep coming back to the more classic london dry gin flavors, though. But if I coud only have one gin in my cabinet, it would probably be Plymouth, due to its chameleon-like attributes, or perhaps Boodle's, which is well-balanced, but has a bolder juniper/citrus/alcohol profile. If I could add two others, I'd probably choose Tanqueray (or Broker's/Bombay Dry if I wanted to spend a little less) for the classic london dry flavor, and Citadelle for the lighter more aromatic flavors. If I were in a real budget crunch, I'd buy Seagram's.

                                                      24 Replies
                                                      1. re: curseofleisure

                                                        Wow, thanks for a great overview! Obviously, tastes differ, but it's great to see one person's fairly comprehensive comparison of a number of brands. I'm have been leaning toward getting a bottle of Plymouth (even though the price jump irritates me) and your post is cementing that. I think I can get it for around $22 on sale, which isn't too bad compared to its competition.

                                                        1. re: curseofleisure

                                                          I agree with you on all of your recommendations of gins that I have had much experience with (ie, at least a full bottle) - Broker's, Citadelle, Hendrick's, New Amsterdam, Seagram's (for a couple bucks more their Distiller's Reserve is much better than the extra dry IMO).I actually find Citadelle similar to Hendricks but a little more flavorful, and I prefer it.

                                                          Plymouth is on my list and I have seen it in the $23 range, next time I can get it for that price I will. I have a bottle of Boodles I just haven't opened yet.

                                                          I highly recommend trying Hayman's Old Tom, usually in the mid-20's - I quite enjoy the bottle I have. I have heard that Ransom and Anchor Genevieve are a step up, but also around $10 more - I plan to try one of them at some point.

                                                          Last summer I got a 1.75 ltr of New Amsterdam for $13 after mail-in rebate and probably wouldn't do it again -- or maybe I would just to have something super cheap to use when my palate is already blown and I want to drink some more. This is the same reason I bought a 1.75 of rebel yell bourbon for $12 after $8 MIR - though the 1.75 of George Dickel Cascade Hollow is much better and was about the same price after $10 rebate, IMO it is at least as good as JD No 7, and Dickel No 12 puts the JD to shame.

                                                          1. re: ncyankee101

                                                            Yankee: Good Ole George No. 12 is a regular drinker in my rotation and I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of it. Someone brought me a fifth of New Amsterdam Gin to a dinner party I held and I just had my first swallow of it. Tastes like Grapefruit Listerine to me .... Maybe it will play well in my Buck! ;)

                                                            1. re: ncyankee101

                                                              Nyc, I was going to pick up a small bottle of distiller's reserve this weekend, but saw a sale on Old Raj that I couldn't pass up. Have not cracked it open yet but will do so this weekend.

                                                              1. re: ncyankee101

                                                                So I finally bought a 750 ML bottle of Seagram's Distiller's Reserve Gin a few weeks ago and must say after having slowly emptied it into various cocktails over the past few weeks that I am very impressed. It is quite versatile, working very well in a wide variety of cocktails. It is absolutely the best value I have found in gins (with the exception of Broker's or Bombay Dry when they're on sale at a deep discount). I recently had a friend over who likes gin, and I served him his first Tom Collins of the evening using Plymouth, which is my fallback whenever I'm unsure what would be the best fit for a gin-based cocktail. For the second Tom Collins, I used the Seagrams DR. He immediately said, "This is a different gin than the first one, isn't it?" I was worried he didn't like it, but he actually preferred the Seagram's. At less than half the price of Plymouth, it has replaced Plymouth in all but a few cocktails in my regular rotation. I'll be picking up a handle this weekend. I have seen a few folks rave about Seagram's Twisted Lime Gin here and elsewhere, particularly for use in G&T's. The name and concept kind of turn me off, but I'm intrigued. Has anyone tried it? Thoughts?

                                                                1. re: curseofleisure

                                                                  My brother brought a bottle of Seagram's Twisted Lime to a party last Winter. It is lower proof [70] and had an artificial lime taste. I prefer a regular bottle of Seagram's and a few fresh limes.

                                                                  1. re: curseofleisure

                                                                    Glad to hear you liked the Seagrams DR, oddly enough though it is my favorite bargain gin I don't currently have a bottle on hand. I keep finding good deals on other gins and trying them - such as Bluecoat for $18 and Beefeater 24 for $19 from Hitime. Also finally opened my bottle of Boodles. All have been quite good.

                                                                    1. re: curseofleisure

                                                                      How would you compare the DR to standard Seagram's Extra Dry? I ended up buying the latter and haven't been overly impressed (I've preferred Beefeater in every drink so far) but it's certainly fine for the money and I enjoy it when I'm not doing comparison drinks.

                                                                      1. re: tinnywatty

                                                                        For me, Seagram's Extra Dry is interchangeable with Gordon's as being serviceable sub-$10 fifths. For sub-$20 Dry Gins, my favorites are Boodle's and Bombay Regular (red label). In Iowa, Beefeater's is in the sub-$25 range in Iowa [along with Tanqueray] and I rarely buy either.

                                                                        1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                                                          Interesting, thanks. Here, Beefeater is only about three dollars more than Seagram's ED (13 and 10 dollars). Bombay regular is on my to-buy list although I've heard that it's extremely similar to Beefeater.

                                                                          1. re: tinnywatty

                                                                            I would pay the modest premium for Beefeater ..... and if you can get Boodles for $13, give it a spin sometime.

                                                                            1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                                                              Boodles is $19- what would you say is special about it?

                                                                              1. re: tinnywatty

                                                                                For me, Boodles has the best balance for the money [and well-priced here]. It is what it is, which is a very sold London Dry Gin [without any botanical gimmicks]. It is also 90 proof if I am recalling correctly.

                                                                                1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                                                                  I love Boodles. Classic London dry. To me it's similar to Tanq, but a bit more citrus lusciousness. unfortunately it has steadily risen in price here and now costs the same as Tanq. Used to be $3-$4 cheaper just a few months ago.

                                                                            2. re: tinnywatty

                                                                              Wow. Here in Houston, Boodles, Bombay and Beefeater are all in the $18-$20 range and the ED and DS are within a dollar or two of each other ($13-$15)

                                                                              1. re: curseofleisure

                                                                                Iowa is a liquor control state and I pay the following [non-sale, non-manufacturer's rebate/coupon pricing]: Gordon's ($8), Seagram's Extra Dry ($9), Seagram's DR ($11), Boodles ($16), Bombay Regular red label ($19), Tanq/Beefeater's/Bombay Sapphire ($22-23), and Plymouth/Hendricks ($30). I can buy liter bottles for the price of fifths at either Sam's/Costco on Tanq/Beefeater's

                                                                                1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                                                                  Costco prices here are actually higher in general than my favorite liquor store (http://www.missionliquor.com/ if you're ever in California :) ). We also have buy 6 bottles at 30% off deals at most of the major grocery chains- although their prices on some bottles are raised to compensate for that. I have seen good prices at Costco on cheesy stuff like crystal head vodka etc, but for the most part per ounce I'd pay more buying there (and have to store the giant liter or 1.75L bottle). So interesting how much variation there is across the country.

                                                                                  1. re: tinnywatty

                                                                                    I agree about the wide price variations across the country. I bought a handle of Bombay Original (red label) in a Destin, Florida Publix (grocery store) for $23. I cannot even buy a 1.75 liter of it in Iowa, let alone a half gallon for four dollars more than I pay for a fifth!

                                                                          2. re: tinnywatty

                                                                            Tinny - sorry for the delayed reply, I was in the mountains for a few days well out of internet range.

                                                                            I would say the DR has much more of a juniper presence. When I tasted them side by side and blind, I found the Extra dry to be rather flat and boring in comparison.

                                                                            1. re: ncyankee101

                                                                              No worries. That's so funny because I bought the Extra Dry thinking I wanted a milder gin for some cocktails (the purpose of this thread).. and then sometime between making my shopping list and actually purchasing, I guess I started to really prefer the juniper flavor even in some of those drinks. Hence, Seagrams has mostly been sitting around. I'm curious to try the Distiller's Reserve as well; I wish it came in a mini since my gin collection is already too large for its allotted space.
                                                                              Have you ever tried Trader Joe's house brand of gin? I found the flavor to be very odd- sort of plain and bitter without much juniper at all, even though others have reviewed it highly.

                                                                              1. re: tinnywatty

                                                                                No TJs doesn't sell liquor here in NC, I wish they did because I have heard good things about some of their inexpensive store brands such as Finlaggan Scotch.

                                                                      2. re: curseofleisure

                                                                        You guys are making me need to re-taste Plymouth and try Citadelle for the first time... ;-)

                                                                        1. re: curseofleisure

                                                                          curious if you have tried Nolet's

                                                                          perhaps I am the only person who loves that stuff, but IMO it is very good and makes a great martini

                                                                          not traditional london dry though at all

                                                                          1. re: Dapuma

                                                                            I've not tried Nolet's, but have heard goods things. Will add it to my list. Thanks.

                                                                        2. I use Plymouth for all my mixed gin drinks. The wife drinks martinis, she likes either Bombay Sapphire, or Junipero for those. I have a bottle of creme de violette (that I bought), and a bottle of creme yvette (bought for me by a freind). I use the creme de violette in my Aviations, but only use about 1/4 oz of Luxardo Maraschino.

                                                                          1. How does Martin Miller gin hold up in classic cocktails

                                                                            Have wanted to try that gin but worried that i wouldnt have a home for it if it is lighter as i already have hendricks and nolets for the "lighter" gins

                                                                            I am out of tanq which works fine in a negroni but dont really love it with anything else and was just so so about beefeater and beefeater 24 (liked the 24 better and can stand in some drinks) - price is not so much of an issue

                                                                            Also what is a good old tom gin for a tom collins - figured i should snag one of those as well

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Dapuma

                                                                              I don't care for MM that much. too vegetal a flavor. Sometimes almost cucumber like.