A juniper tree's little blue berries aren't a true berry at all,
they're actually fleshy, modified pine cones.
Gin is an old school spirit. Like a gent with his shirtsleeves rolled up, it's refined but not stuffy. Deriving much of its flavor from an herbaceous mix of botanicals like coriander seed, licorice root, cassia bark and its predominant ingredient, the piney-flavored juniper berry, gin is aromatic and light in both flavor and body. While its true origins lie in Dutch jenever (a juniper-flavored malt wine), the spirit has essentially become known as the drink of the English, who led the way with London dry gins like Tanqueray. But recently there's been a renaissance of sorts for American dry gin. Small-batch producers are crafting quality bottles that are both crisp and intensely aromatic. From recent newcomers like DC's Green Hat—named after a fedora-wearing Prohibition-era bootlegger who supplied members of Congress with illegal booze—to one of the first American craft gins, Philadelphia Distilling's Bluecoat, we've rounded up four solid bottles for your sipping pleasure.
St. George's Botanivore Gin is an easy-drinking spirit with a refreshing, smooth finish that can be mixed or enjoyed alone. Boasting 19 different botanicals, the sweet floral notes complement the juniper's spicier pine and black pepper finish.
$31, at K&L
Unlike London Dry gins that lead with juniper, Bluecoat bursts with bittersweet citrus fruit and cucumber that pair extremely well with the juniper's piney zing and spices like coriander. The citrusy notes make it ideal for mixing in cocktails as well.
$30, at Bowery & Wine
Full-bodied yet smooth, Green Hat Distilled Gin is made with red winter wheat and infused with botanicals like fennel seed, coriander and sage. The clean flavors (and a touch of heat at the finish) make it the perfect gin for your martini.
$36, at Schneider's
Ben Capdevielle's grandfather secretly made Templeton Rye whiskey during Prohibition and now Ben's carrying on a family tradition with Big Gin, a peppery English-style gin with notes of burnt orange made in a small 100-gallon pot still.
$35, at Garnet