Gin Every Bar Should Stock

Professional Bartending 101: Know Your Gin

Gin is a fascinating and complex spirit and the styles of gin vary greatly. From the familiar London dry gins to old favorites like Plymouth and Old Tom, no two gins really taste the same.

A good professional bar should have a range of gin options in order to make the most diverse selection of cocktails available. This is especially true in today's bars that want to appeal to drinkers who want to enjoy classic cocktails as well as innovative, modern gin martinis.

As a professional bartender, you should familiarize yourself with each of these styles to determine which gin works best in each cocktail. Part of the craft of professional bartending involves experimentation and nowhere is that more true than with the world of gin.

Here are the best choices within each gin category and no top-flight bar should be without any of them. 

  • 01 of 05

    Plymouth Gin

    Plymouth Gin
    Plymouth Gin has a new look to their bottle and the brand also produces a Navy Strength and Sloe Gin. Photo Courtesy: Plymouth Gin

    Only one gin in the world has its own category and that is the unique Plymouth Gin. Plymouth was a favorite of officers in the British navy and it is seeing a renewed interest among gin and classic cocktail enthusiasts.

    Fruity, full-bodied and eminently mixable, Plymouth is a must in any quality establishment.

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    Old Tom Gin

    Hayman's Old Tom Gin
    Hayman's is one of the brands that is reviving the classic taste of Old Tom Gin. Photo Courtesy: Hayman's

    Old Tom was a style of gin that died out with Prohibition though it has made a comeback with a resurging interest in classic cocktail recipes. Many modern bartenders are also using those as inspiration to create new cocktails featuring this style.

    The flavor of Old Tom Gin falls between the dry gins and the sweet maltiness of genever. It has a fuller body than London dry gins but is less intense than the Dutch genever, which makes it ideal for cocktails. Old Tom is essential to recreating many a classic cocktail, especially the Martinez and Foghorn.

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    Bols Genever
    Bols Genever is one of the most popular brands of genever and it makes a great cocktail. Photo Courtesy © Bols Genever

    Genever is Dutch-style gin, with a higher content of malt and a unique, almost whisky-like flavor. Genever was once limited in the United States, but brands like Bols Genever have brought it back.

    If you enjoy a full-bodied, rich gin with a balance of botanicals, genever is a perfect choice. You will find it a completely different experience than many dry gins you may be used to.

    Bols is finding more use in the bar in both classic and modern cocktails and it's an interesting choice in drinks that would normally take whiskey.

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    London Dry Gin

    Beefeater London Dry Gin
    One of the icons of the liquor shelf, Beefeater is a top-shelf gin of choice for many martini drinkers. Photo Courtesy: © Beefeater Gin

    The most crowded field in the world of gin is the London Dry category. Dominated by big names like Bombay, Oxley, Tanqueray and Beefeater, a quality bar should carry multiple options.

    These gins are full of botanicals with juniper dominating most in full force. As the name suggests, they have a very dry palate.

    If you have to choose only one London Dry, choose Beefeater. It is both the highest quality London Dry as well the most versatile. Try Beefeater or one of its other marques in a Classic Martini, Gin and Tonic or Last Word to truly see its versatility.

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  • 05 of 05

    New American Gin

    Dry Fly Washington Dry Gin
    A fantastic example of American hand-crafted gin, Dry Fly Washington Dry Gin is a perfect option for almost any gin cocktail you could think of. Photo Courtesy: © Dry Fly Distilling

    New American gins are an offshoot of the craft distilling movement in the United States. These gins are primarily designed with mixologists in mind and can have a range of interesting flavors.

    There is no set standard for flavor in these gins and each is a completely different experience though some may lean toward any of the above profiles. They are a ton of fun to explore.

    Some of the best New American gins include Aviation, Dry Fly and Hendrick's. Use these for new cocktails creations, try them with tonic, or just sip them on the rocks to enjoy their interesting and unique flavor profiles.