Step into a basic liquor store, or a specialty liquor shop, and notice the gin aisle stocked with countless bottle options, from the U.K.’s classic Beefeater to lauded German boutique producer Monkey 47. In the last half decade or so, not only has the gin industry exploded, but bars dedicated to the classically juniper-forward distillate have hit the market, like six-year-old Chicago boutique gin-focused speakeasy Scofflaw, to decorated barman Martin Cate’s Whitechapel in San Francisco, known for its collection of over 600 expressions. And then there’s Atlas in Singapore, which, when the opulent lounge debuted last spring, management touted more than 1,000 gins from around the world. And despite the bar’s youth, it has already landed at spot four on the World’s 50 Best Bars list.
However, there’s one specific gin London-based brand partly responsible for igniting the world’s current gin boom. After traveling around the U.S. in the early 2000s and noting America’s artisan food and drink movement––from craft beer to third wave coffee––longtime friends Sam Galsworthy and Fairfax Hall returned home to London to found a craft gin distillery. “Our challenge was to successfully pursue an appeal against a previous gin act from the 18th century that ensured that any license granted could only be for a pot still that was over 1,800 liters,” explains Galsworthy, who adds that the government instilled the dictum to prevent moonshine operators. After two years of lobbying the government, in 2009 the duo successfully secured London’s first small-batch gin distilling license since the 18th century, and inaugurated the city’s very first boutique gin distillery: Sipsmith. Since then, London has become home to 24 small-batch gin producers.
Below, a classic gin and tonic recipe for all-season imbibing, along with fruit and veggie-forward riffs that highlight this spirit’s floral nature, perfect for summer imbibing.
A Classic Gin & Tonic
2 ounces Sipsmith London Dry Gin
3-4 ounces Fever Tree tonic water
Fill highball glass with ice. Add gin, then tonic. Stir and add desired garnish.
Suggested Garnishes, according to Sipsmith Master Distiller Jared Brown:
Lime juice and zest: The majority of London Dry Gins have complex palates that feature a prominent array of citrus notes. We find that the addition of lime juice and zest beautifully balances this bouquet of flavors.
Star Anise: Not only is star anise an incredibly versatile spice—it works well in both sweet and savory contexts, and has a bit of a menthol kick to it. But it’s also one of the prettiest. Throw a few in your glass for a gin and tonic that’s pretty as a picture.
Vanilla Pods: Save this one for a special occasion. Vanilla works well with gins that have luscious, buttery mouthfeels, and adds both sweetness and sophistication to a gin and tonic.
Frozen Peaches: What about a garnish that also doubles as a cooling agent (and which won’t lead to over-dilution)? We love swapping out a bit of ice for frozen peach wedges in our summery gin and tonics.
-Will Benedetto of New York’s Trademark Taste + Grind adds gin, charred grapefruit, tonic to his Copa Gin & Tonic.
– Shane McKnight and H. Joseph Ehrmann of San Francisco’s Elixir add gin, Top Hat Tonic Syrup, pear brandy, and soda water to their Oaktown Gintonic.
– Joseph Lapi of Washington, D.C.’s RPM Italian in adds gin, basil, thyme, lemon, Fever Tree Natural Tonic water to his R Gin & Tonic.
– Pauly Graves of Chicago’s Gemini adds gin, Chareau Aloe liquer, cucumber, and basil to his Aloe Gin Slim.