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While you want the best gin for your martinis, pricier brands don't always fit into the budget, so you look to the bottom shelf at the liquor store for a bottle boasting a more reasonable price tag. It can be tricky to find a good-tasting gin that's also inexpensive, and quite a few duds exist, but there are some gems out there, too. Keep these budget-friendly bottles in your well for mixed drinks and cocktails, like gimlets, negronis, and classic G&Ts.
Here are the best cheap gins.
Best Overall: Gordon’s London Dry Gin
Gordon's is a go-to value gin. It's available in nearly every liquor store and supermarket (where liquor laws allow it), and it makes an excellent mixed drink. The 80-proof libation has a strong juniper base—the mark of a good London dry gin—and a selection of other botanicals that blend well with nearly any mixer your heart desires. 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 drinks with strong mixers and juices, like the paradise cocktail.
Best High-Proof: Booth’s London Dry Gin
Booth's London Dry can be found in most markets and is a surprisingly nice gin. It has the characteristics often found in this price range: full juniper in the front followed by coriander, lemon peel, and a number of other spices. It's bottled at 90-proof, which means that flavors are bigger and bolder, though not quite as brash as navy-strength gin.
Booth’s may not be the best-known brand, but it easily beats many of the other low-priced gins. It’s also commonly available in liters, so you can stretch your money even further. Give this one a try in any gin and soda drink, as it really is best in a tall, refreshing highball. That punch of flavor ensures it won’t get lost in any cocktail, even something as complex as a Long Island iced tea.
Best Flavored: Seagram’s Peach Twisted Gin
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. The company also bottles flavored gins; the lime is a favorite and watermelon is certainly quirky. However, Seagram’s Peach Twisted Gin really steals the show.
Bottled at 70-proof, the original Seagram’s gin is blended with peach liqueur for a fun take on the botanical spirit. The liqueur also makes it sweeter, so you’ll want to take that into account when using it in drinks. This one does well with a little soda, so mix it into a Tom Collins, but hold back on the sweetener, or top it with an equally affordable dry sparkling wine. It can even be very enjoyable on the rocks.
Best Sweet: Boomsma Jonge Genever
Characteristically, gin is dry, though there are a couple of styles that break from that profile. While neither Old Tom gin or genever is sweet like liqueurs, they are decidedly sweeter than London dry and other types of gin. They’re classic styles primarily made by premium distillers, so there aren't many inexpensive options available. If you want to give one a try without breaking the bank, Boomsma Jonge Genever is a good option.
Genevers are Dutch and “jonge” means “young.” Similar to whiskey, it costs less than genever that's aged longer. The subtle sweetness comes from the inclusion of malt wine, and it has a rich maltiness that’s reminiscent of whiskey, but with a delicate juniper twist. Boomsma Jonge fits the profile perfectly and is an impressive award-winning genever. Drink it straight or experience its mixability in cocktails, including classics like a gin daisy.
Best for a Gin and Tonic: 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. It's also intriguingly floral. This 80-proof gin is carried by many liquor stores and is an excellent budget-friendly option for a gin and tonic. The crispness pairs nicely with any tonic water, so feel free to save a little money there, too. With that duo in stock, just pick up a few limes, because even budget-conscious drinkers know that fresh is best. You’ll be all set for a simple happy hour drink at home.
Best for Martinis: Pearl Gin
Generally, the “rule” is that budget gin should not be mixed into martinis and that’s good advice to follow. The classic gin martini is a very transparent cocktail that will not hide any of the spirit’s impurities. However, that’s just one cocktail recipe and there are many “martinis” that will work out just fine with a value find such as Pearl Gin.
This 88-proof Canadian gin is from the same makers as Pearl Vodka. It’s distilled from winter wheat, which gives it a softer, sweeter base, and is blended with Rocky Mountain water. It’s crisp and clean, with a nice juniper profile backed by other botanicals. Try it in gin martinis with extra flavors, like pear vodka, fresh fruit, or even cucumber and wasabi. At this price, you can afford to experiment as much as you'd like.
Best for Fruity Cocktails: Gilbey's London Dry Gin
There are no frills about Gilbey’s. It’s most often found in plastic bottles with that red cap and simple label combination familiar among bottom-shelf spirits. That said, this reliable 80-proof London dry gin makes rather nice drinks and is available at a price that’s hard to beat.
Gilbey’s has a flavor comparable to any other gin, and many fans even say that it outshines the high-priced bottles. Its juniper-forward blend of botanicals makes it an excellent choice with any mixer, though it’s particularly suited to fruity drinks. Pour it into citrus juice beverages, mix it with fresh berries, or enjoy it in a strawberry gin and tonic. It can even handle the likes of a French martini.
Best for Vodka Drinkers: New Amsterdam Gin
New Amsterdam is a newer gin. It was released in 2007 and is quite impressive, especially considering the price. This 80-proof spirit has sweeter citrus and floral notes, making it a spirit 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.
This gin is distilled in the U.S., but is classified as a London dry gin. It’s 80-proof and the profile makes it a good candidate for fruity mixed drinks, such as the salty dog. It's also pleasant in modern cocktails with unusual ingredients, such as the lemongrass-infused Soho cocktail.
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Colleen Graham is a food and beverage writer with over a decade of experience writing about cocktails, beer, and wine. She is the author of two books and has toured a number of distilleries to get a firsthand look behind the scenes and talk to the experts who craft distilled spirits.