While you want the best gin for your martinis, the pricier brands don't always fit into the budget. That's when you'll look down to the bottom of the liquor shelf for a bottle that's a little more reasonable. It can be tricky to find a good tasting gin that is also inexpensive. There are quite a few duds out there that will let you down, but there are some affordable gems, too.
Are these budget-friendly gins martini worthy? Not really. Keep these gins in your well for mixed drinks and cocktails that are heavy on mixers like bold fruit juices. They are good—certainly among the best cheap gin—but not the best, so it's wise to let another ingredient take center stage.
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Gordon's is a go-to value gin. It is available in every liquor store and supermarket and it makes some excellent mixed drinks. There are two versions of Gordon's, however, which leads to some confusion. In the U.K., it comes in a green bottle, while the international import bottles are clear and emblazoned with a bright gold label. It is 40 percent alcohol by volume (ABV, 80 proof).
Gordon's has a strong juniper base, which is the mark of a good London dry gin. You'll also taste the essence of a variety of other botanicals that mix well with almost anything. The average gin highballs, such as the gin sling and gin rickey, are excellent uses for this rather clean and inexpensive gin. It can also hold its own in "up" drinks with strong mixers and juices like the monkey gland, Honolulu, or even a paradise.
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Seagram's produces a good gin for the price. It doesn't have the full flavor of Gordon's but it still contains a pleasant juniper profile. This one's also bottled at the standard 40 percent ABV (80 proof) and it's hard to find a liquor store that doesn't stock it.
When you want a slight upgrade, you can also pick up Seagram's Distiller's Reserve, which has wonderful complexity. They also bottle flavored gins, including apple, grape, lime, melon, orange, peach, pineapple, and red berry (raspberry and strawberry). These are fun to play with, but not always the best tasting.
Seagram's works well in a variety of mixed drinks, from the gin buck to the Tom Collins. It also makes a fine Floradora, French martini, and ginspresso martini when you're in the mood for a fancier drink.
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Burnett's London Dry Gin
Burnett's London Dry is a sweeter gin with lighter, airier herbal notes. It has a nice taste that balances out the pine and citrus flavors, and it has an intriguing floral aspect. This 80-proof gin is carried by many liquor stores, although it may be slightly more difficult to find than the others.
This is an excellent budget-friendly option for a gin and tonic. It works well for fruit and citrus-forward cocktails, too, including the English rose, and orange blossom. There's definitely a lot of potential with a bottle of Burnett's behind the bar.
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New Amsterdam is a newer kid on the cheap gin block. It was released in 2007 and it's quite impressive. This 80-proof spirit has sweeter citrus and floral notes, making it a gin that vodka lovers will enjoy, too. It's a fantastic introduction to the lower end of gin, especially if you don't like the full pine flavor of juniper berries.
New Amsterdam's profile makes it a good candidate for fruity mixed drinks such as the salty dog. It's also pleasant in a Clover Club cocktail and you have to try some of the brand's modern cocktails such as the lemongrass-infused Soho cocktail.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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Booth's London Dry Gin
Booth's London Dry can be found in most markets and is a surprisingly nice gin. It has the gin characteristics often found in this price range, with full juniper in the front followed by coriander, lemon peel, and a number of other spices.
This 90-proof gin may not be the best-known brand, but it easily beats many of the other low-priced gins. Give this one a try in any of the gin and soda drinks as it really is best in a tall, refreshing highball. You can have fun with Booth's as the base for a Long Island iced tea or in the rare frozen gin cocktails like the wedding cake.