Words by Simon Difford
Gin challenges even vodka for its cocktail versatility, and as the leading spirit in vintage cocktail books there are plenty of great gin based cocktails to choose from – we've over 700 gin cocktails here on Difford's Guide. But what are the best ones? Well, these are our favourites...
1. 20th Century Cocktail
With: Dry gin, creme de cacao liqueur, lemon juice and Americano bianco.
We say: When, as originally, this cocktail is made with Rutte Celery Gin, then celery notes are very obvious in the final cocktail - perhaps more so than in the gin itself. Whatever gin you favour, this version of the Twentieth Century is fabulously expressive of the gin with subtle rich chocolate notes.
With: Dry gin, maraschino liqueur, creme de violette liqueur, lemon juice and chilled water.
We say: Our adaptation of Hugo R. Ensslin's Aviation Cocktail in his 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks. Citrus, floral gin with a slightly sour finish.
3. Breakfast Martini
With: Marmalade, dry gin, triple sec liqueur and lemon juice.
We say: Salvatore Calabrese's contemporary classic. The success or failure of this tangy drink is partly reliant on the quality of marmalade used.
4. Casino #1
With: Dry gin, maraschino liqueur, lemon juice, chilled water and Angostura Orange Bitters.
We say: Basically, an Aviation dried and made more complex with a dash of orange bitters. Recipe adapted from Harry Craddock's 1930 The Savoy Cocktail Book.
5. Chanticleer Cocktail
With: Dry gin, dry vermouth, triple sec liqueur and egg white.
We say: Wonderfully aromatic orange with a complex balance of gin and vermouth. Recipe adapted from A.S. Crockett's 1935 The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book.
6. Clover Club (House-Made)
With: Dry gin, raspberry jam, dry vermouth and lemon juice.
We say: Fruity, light, well-balanced and easy-drinking. Julie Reiner's riff on a classic.
7. Dry Martini (5:1 ratio)
With: Dry gin, dry vermouth and Angostura Orange Bitters.
We say: We have chosen this 5:1 ratio as our 'preferred' Dry Martini in deference to David Embury who wrote of this drink, "After extensive experimentation I have arrived at the ratio of 5 to 1 as the proportion most pleasing to the average palate."
8. English Marmalade
With: Marmalade, dry gin, Campari, lemon juice and Angostura Orange Bitters.
We say: The addition of Campari and aromatic bitters to the classic recipe from the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book, lifts the Marmalade Cocktail to a new level of bittersweet complexity.
9. Fruit Cup
With: Dry gin, sweet vermouth, dry curaçao liqueur, Angostura Aromatic Bitters, ginger ale and Coca-Cola.
We say: Move over Pimm's - this is what summer's about. Refreshing, zingy, citrussy and delicately herbal.
With: Dry gin, Genever, lemon juice, lime juice, lime cordial and sugar syrup.
We say: The Gimlet is usually stirred but unless you've super strained/clarified your freshly squeezed citrus juice then even if stirred this cocktail won't be perfectly clear. So do as Harry Craddock directs in his 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book and use some elbow grease to shake and invigorate this upper decks cocktail.
11. Gin Basil Smash
With: Dry gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup.
We say: Jörg Meyer's modern-day classic with as name suggests involves pulverising a generous handful of basil leaves to extract their flavour and colour.
12. Left Bank Martini
With: Dry gin, elderflower liqueur, white win and dry vermouth.
We say: A elderflower and Chablis influenced not so dry Martini - yes St Germain is on the left bank of the Seine.
13. Marsala Martini
With: Dry gin, wine, dry vermouth and amaretto.
We say: Another fabulously complex delicate little sipper by Tony Conigliaro.
14. Negroni Cocktail
With: Dry gin, Campari and sweet vermouth.
We say: The favourite cocktail of both the Milanese and the world's bartender's - and not just because it's so easy and quick to make - the Negroni is now appreciated and enjoyed by the masses.
15. Poet's Dream
With: Dry gin, dry vermouth, Benedictine, Angostura Orange Bitters and chilled water.
We say: Created by Matt Gee at Milk & Honey, New York City
16. Ramos Gin Fizz
With: Dry gin, lemon juice, lime juice, sugar syrup, orange flower water, vanilla extract, egg white, single cream and soda.
We say: Adapted from an original recipe in the 1949 edition of Esquire's Handbook for Hosts, this is subtle, honeyed and herbal.
17. Red Snapper
With: Dry gin, tomato juice, lemon juice, sugar syrup, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, black pepper and salt.
We say: Looks like a Bloody Mary, and tastes a lot like a Bloody Mary, but features gin's aromatic botanicals.
18. Southside Rickey
With: Dry gin, lime juice, sugar syrup and soda.
We say: A gin based Mojito served over cracked ice meets the classic Southside. The result is refreshing and easy drinking.
19. The Last Word
With: Dry gin, Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, lime juice and chilled water.
We say: Chartreuse devotees will love this balanced, tangy pre-Prohibition classic reincarnated in 2004 by Murray Stenson at Seattle's Zig Zag Cafe.
20. The Puritan
With: Dry gin, dry vermouth, Chartreuse, Angostura Orange Bitters and chilled water.
We say: An often overlooked classic which is thought to have originated at the end of the 19th century.
Over 695+ more gin cocktails.