Gin’s ability to showcase myriad flavors has always made it a bartender favorite. With aromatic combinations ranging from floral and herbal to citrus and spice, and even vegetal, gin imparts a sense of place like no other spirit. A jack-of- all-trades, gin is the versatile star of innovative cocktails and classic libations alike.
Seeking new choices to explore more of the spirit’s impressive variety, VinePair asked bartenders to weigh in on the best new gins to grace their bars. While not every gin listed below is a recent release, each has gained our drink pros’ enthusiastic approval and is worthy of any gin lover’s consideration. From beloved local distilleries to a new favorite from Greece, keep reading for the latest gin obsessions.
The Best New Gins Recommended by Bartenders:
- Hendrick’s Lunar Gin
- Still Austin Texas Rye Gin
- Komasa Sakurajima Komikan Gin
- Stray Dog Wild Gin
- Fords London Dry Gin
- Indoggo Gin
- D. George Benham’s Sonoma Dry Gin
- Whistling Hare Foothills Gin
- Suntory Roku Gin
- Manatawny Still Works American Gin
Keep reading for details about all of the recommended bottles!
“I recently got the pleasure of trying the newly released Lunar Gin from Hendrick’s, and it’s a bottle I didn’t want to put down. Along with the bonus of being distilled by an amazing woman, its taste is unique and well suited to cocktails or enjoying on its own. It’s soft enough on the palate that it can be enjoyed neat — it presents a beautiful arrangement of floral and spice, notably lemongrass, rose, and black pepper. Upon tasting, it rightfully earned a place on my bar.” —Jess Manchenton, Bartender, Queensyard, NYC
“Best affordable new gin for me right now: Still Austin Gin. The Austin-based distillery has been around since 2015. … Their gin is a delightful grapefruit bomb, and it definitely falls in the category of ‘every-dayer’ with its price point. Best new gin that’s not so much on the affordable side: Komasa Sakurajima Komikan Gin. Once again, a citrus bomb of a gin. Produced by a shochu distillery in Kagoshima, Japan, with over 130 years of distilling history, the gin is made with local tiny mandarin oranges which are on full display on the nose. Regardless [of] if you ever fell in love with satsumas or calamansi, this 200-milliliter bottle of gin is definitely worth a spot on your bar.” —Westin Galleymore, Spirits Director, Underbelly Hospitality, Houston.
“Stray Dog Gin feels truly Mediterranean, herbal, still bright and characterful, and matches great with the flavors and spirit of our cuisine at Zaytinya — probably due to the wild Greek herbs or the mastiha they use in it. I like how they pulled peculiar aromas like sage without [becoming] too floral or fruity.” —Miguel Lancha, Cocktail Innovator, José Andrés ThinkFoodGroup, Washington, D.C.
“A gin that I have been using for about the last year and was super excited to work with is called Stray Dog Gin. As a very proud Greek American, I was excited for this gin to come to market because it is made in Greece, and it uses many botanicals from Greece, including mastiha and resin from the mastic tree. It is a super-versatile gin, great for a nice 50-50 Martini with orange bitters or a refreshing citrus-forward cocktail.” —Dimitrios Zahariadis, Beverage Director, Viron Rondo Osteria, Cheshire, Conn.
“I was already a huge fan of Fords Gin and their original expression; its versatility, its flavor profile, and of course its price range. All these reasons made it easy to put Fords Gin in all of my gin cocktails on the menu. But once I heard they were dropping a new expression, I was very eager to start playing around with it. Fords Gin Officers’ Reserve is a navy-proof gin with so much character and a kick to it. We have a cocktail made with Fords Gin Officers’ Reserve, vodka, iscider, and a pinch of salt. It’s a riff off a Vesper, but this one just hits different: super crushable but spirit- forward, and I don’t think any other gin but this version of Fords would work. So definitely grab yourself a bottle if you’re having that creative block, and see how this bottle will change your life!” —Beau Bradley, Head Bartender, Cote NYC & Undercote, NYC
“Indoggo Gin: This gin was newly launched by the legendary rapper Snoop Dogg in the past year. Gin is an excellent spirit because it is known by mixologists to adapt the flavors and ingredients mixed with it, so customers [don’t] feel like they are drinking a spirit at all. It is helpful to have a well-known personality behind a spirit, especially one known for drinking gin, because it helps with guest recognition and sparks a conversation.” —Justin Wilson, Director of Outlets, SAAM Lounge in SLS Brickell, Miami.
“Benham’s Gin: another quality local product from just outside Sebastopol, Calif., offered at a great price for how versatile it is. We introduce this to people in a Vesper or Corpse Reviver #2. It has a citrus backbone, with some delicate floral characteristics that still work in a Martini or G&T.” —Sam Levy, Co-Owner/Bar Director, Fern Bar at The Barlow, Sebastopol, Calif.
“My favorite new gin is a local one out of Westminster, Colo. Whistling Hare’s Foothill Gin is extremely floral and unique, and great in cocktails.” —Eric Vanderveen, Bar Manager, The Empire Lounge & Restaurant, Louisville, Colo.
“[With] KOJO being a Japanese-focused restaurant, we find Suntory Roku Gin to be a no-brainer. Besides the typical gin botanicals [of] juniper, coriander, angelica root, citrus peels, etc., Suntory adds six Japanese ingredients as well — Sakura flower and leaf, two different teas, Sansho pepper, and yuzu peels. Great for gin and tonics, of course, but don’t sleep on a Vesper with Roku, either.” —David Roth, Beverage Director, KOJO, Sarasota, Fla.
“This year, Manatawny Still Works released a version of our classic American-style gin, but aged in port wine barrels for nine months. While you get a bit of juniper, this gin finishes slightly sweet, with mild oak and a lingering vanilla that make it perfect as a sipper or for classic cocktails like a Martinez. At home and at our bar on East Passyunk, I love to use it for an Old Fashioned with Demerara syrup and Fee Brother’s Aztec Chocolate Bitters.” —Jennifer Sabatino, Manager/Bartender, Manatawny Still Works, Philadelphia.
Published: April 9, 2021