Sunset has a summer gin habit: the occasional warm, late afternoon finds a bevy of us—wordsmiths, design types, photo editors—circled on managing editor Alan Phinney’s back patio, sipping gin and tonics. And on Alan’s patio, the gin in a G & T is always Tanqueray. There’s no wiggle room on that point—or there hadn’t been until recently.
When yet another press release crossed my desk about a small craft distillery launching a new brand of gin, loaded up with all manner of wild botanicals instead of leaning mainly on juniper for its character, I marched into Alan’s office and said, “We have to do a story on all these new gins coming out!” The look on his face was priceless: pure pain. But game and objective editor that Alan is, he nodded (very slowly), and then proceeded to join me (and plenty of other willing editors) for several liver-busting tastings and one riotous drink-mixing session. (It seemed important to find out whether the likes of lavender in gin could possibly be good in a negroni.)
After said serious research—and just in time for Father’s Day—I have five new favorites to report. They run the gamut of deviating only slightly from tradition to messing with it entirely. Any of them would make Dad a happy man this Sunday—you be the judge of just how severely you want to shake up his gin world. Pour him one of the drinks that follow (winners from our staff mixologists), and you’ll have a convert—unless he’s as hard-core as Alan, whose last gin evening reverted to Tanqueray.
Dry Fly Washington Dry Gin ($30). Loads of apple flavors, with fresh mint, lavender, and citrus.
No. 209 Gin ($35). Hints of coriander and cardamom round out straight-up juniper.
Old World Spirits Rusty Blade Gin ($60). Orange laced with holiday baking spices—ginger and cinnamon—in a barrel-aged version.
St. George Botanivore Gin ($35). Herbal and briny, with fennel, cilantro, and bay leaves mixing it up with ginger and orange peel.
Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin ($35). Wildly fragrant: cucumber, sage, and lavender layered under fresh lemon.
Mix it up
In that negroni, try the barrel-aged Old World Rusty Blade.
In your next margarita, substitute No. 209 or Uncle Val’s for the tequila.
In Dad’s Sunday morning bloody Mary, switch out the vodka for No. 209 gin.
Or pour him a Manhattan with Rusty Blade instead of the whiskey.
And upgrade your martinis with No. 209—with an olive.