At age 53, I've found I like gin, now what
I've never been all that much of a cocktail drinker. I like beer a lot (from saisons to stouts) and I like red wine and some cocktails (mojitos, caipirinhas, bloody Mary) but I never got seriously into cocktails.
I recently tasted a friend's gin cocktail (I think it was a gin and tonic) and liked it, and I've started exploring. I've had a couple different gins, but there seems to be a huge variety.
Any hints? I live on the upper west side of Manhattan.
I'd consider buying a good bottle of gin, a good bottle of vermouth, a jar of large olives, and making martinis. A 5:1 Hendricks and Vya is a pleasant place to start. The whole price tag for a high end entry into the world of martinis in this fashion will cost about what two evenings of moderate bar hopping would cost and will confirm if you really like in. Or try a few small bottles, maybe a Bombay and Noilly Pratt or a Tanqueray and Martini and Rossi. If, one martini into it, you hate it, you can still make more gin drinks of other sorts and use the Vermouth on the rocks or cooking.
Go to cocktail bars like PDT, Death & Co., etc. and try some gin based cocktails. Ask what gin they use, they will probably pour you a small taste. Also liquor stores have tastings, either in the evenings or on saturdays. Find out which local ones do.
Astor Wine & Spirits downtown has them all the time. then you can find out which brands are when. They also have the Astor Center where there are events and classes. I've been there dozens of times for the events and classes, it's a great place. http://www.astorcenternyc.com/