The joys of gin shine all year long, but they’re best suited to spring, with gin’s herbaceous, botanical goodness able to beautifully enhance ingredients as varied as rooibos tea and apricot preserves. These 11 national bars and restaurants oblige with gin cocktails worth drinking on menus now.
Can’t make it to any of the bars serving these great gin drinks? Try mixing the Flørodoro from this list at home.
1: FLØRODORO (LONGWAY, NEW ORLEANS)
One of Nola’s most exciting new restaurants in 2018, Longway is in the heart of the French Quarter, housed in a 1794 building with a light-strewn brick courtyard, serving inspired dishes like vegetarian cassoulet or nontraditional pork, beef and spaghetti squash Bolognese. Bar director Liam Deegan’s cocktails lean mostly classic, but the Flørodoro is a simple but delightful mix of The Botanist gin, fino sherry, lime, Giffard crème de framboise (raspberry) liqueur, lime and ginger beer. Bright, fruity, subtly spiced and floral, the fino imparts a dry backbone.
2: A NIGHT IN TUNISIA (ROSA ROSA, PORTLAND, ORE.)
At the end of 2018, chef Vitaly Paley and his wife, Kimberly, opened Rosa Rosa in the Dossierhotel, with season cocktails from beverage director Charles Hildreth (Eleven Madison Park and Gramercy Tavern in New York City.) A Night in Tunisia is one of his draft cocktails, with the bones of a Negroni (gin, Campari and Cinzano 1757 rosso vermouth) warmed by cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, fennel seed and star anise. A subtle dose of coffee calls on Portland’s rich coffee history.
3: VERNAL EQUINOX (MOONGATE LOUNGE, SAN FRANCISCO)
Located above Mister Jiu’s in a San Francisco’s Chinatown, Moongate Lounge is a seductive space with red velvet booths and a domed skylight. The drink menu is composed of six house cocktails (try the beautiful Io, made with mezcal, Amaro Montenegro, black garlic, cherry and flamed nine spice) and six seasonal cocktails, all based on the Chinese lunar calendar. The Vernal Equinox shows off Bobby’s Schiedam dry gin from the Netherlands, with jasmine and a delicate bitter melon, softened with celery, cucumber and granny apples. A house sweet-and-sour (a mix of pineapple, orange, lemon, lime, honey and rice vinegar) brightens and rounds it all out.
4: COCO’S WITH ME (67 ORANGE STREET, NEW YORK CITY)
67 Orange Street is Harlem’s first craft cocktail bar from restaurateur Karl Franz Williams, and 10 years in, it’s still going strong. Bar manager David Libespere came to New York from France a decade ago, working his way up from busser to head bartender. His cocktail Coco’s with Me shows off Plymouth sloe gin alongside lemon and juicy blueberries. The drink is given further herbaceous notes from rosemary syrup and fennel bitters.
5: WHERE THE RED FERN(ET) GROWS (WATERTABLE, HUNTINGTON BEACH, CALIF.)
Follow the Hyatt Regency’s striking ocean views through its gardens and fountains to find Watertable, a restaurant where Tanner Johnson’s cocktails are destination-worthy, many delicately incorporating smoke. The Where the Red Fern(et) Grows combines The Botanist gin, Fernet-Branca, ginger simple syrup, lemon and a house douglas fir cranberry shrub, evoking California’s evergreen forests.
6: PLEASURE SEEKER (NAIVE, LOUISVILLE, KY.)
Charming and hip, Naive brings a much-needed vegetarian-forward, locally sourced menu to Louisville. Husband-and-wife duo Catherine MacDowall and Michael Kerrigan pursue a zero-carbon footprint and livable wages for their staff at the casual order-at-the-counter café. The Pleasure Seeker is, indeed, a gin-tea pleasure of a cocktail, combining rooibos tea and crème de cassis, brightened with passionfruit, lime and Tiki bitters.
7: ORCHARD SUNSET (BEACON TAVERN, CHICAGO)
Beacon Tavern chef Bob Broskey plays with tavern classics and seafood in dishes like salmon rillettes, shrimp toast and chicken pot pie. Head bartender Alex Schmaling pairs it all with seasonal cocktails, like the popular Orchard Sunset. Chamomile- and orange-peel-infused Bombay Sapphire dry gin is spiced up with green cardamom syrup, Aperol, Bonne Mamanapricot preserves and lemon for a fruit-forward sipper with a bitter, spiced back.
8: THE PORT IN ST. PIERRE (THE ALEX CRAFT COCKTAIL CELLAR & SPEAKEASY, WASHINGTON, D.C.)
The Alex Craft Cocktail Cellar & Speakeasy is a mouthful of a bar name, housed inside the chic Graham Georgetown hotel. But the underground Victoriana haunt is a destination for Saturday night jazz (by reservation) and romantic dates. Andrew Lamkin’s Bathtub Gin & Tonic is popular, served in a min-ibathtub with house tonic. But Lamkin goes further with gin in The Port in St. Pierre. Its base is Bols genever with a touch of Beefeater gin, Yellow Chartreuse and Grand Marnier, and its acidic backbone comes from lemon, softened with egg white. The malty-herbaceous cocktail is finished with a spritz of Green Chartreuse that’s dramatically torched.
9: THE THREE EMMAS (SUPPER, SAN ANTONIO)
San Antonio’s Supper at Hotel Emma is a farm-to-table bistro serving food all day long, like bourbon-braised lamb shank or Carolina Gold rice risotto with lemon, dill and Parmesan. On the cocktail side, The Three Emmas is based on a historic, local story about three Emmas intertwined in love, betrayal and murder. (Just ask the bartender about it.) To represent the three Emmas, there’s The Botanist gin, Pearl beer, rose cordial and amontillado sherry, brightened with a citrus punch of grapefruit and lemon juice.
10: RHYMES WITH ORANGE (THE DOUGLAS ROOM, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF.)
The laid-back Douglas Room is known for killer bar food like the “for real” Italian hoagie and dreamy banana bread “French-toast-style.” Drinks also deliver, whether it be a shot of the house barrel of Russell’s Reserve rye whiskey or crushable cocktails like the Rhymes with Orange, blending Suntory Roku gin, Blinking Owl aquavit and Lo-Fi gentian amaro, kicked up with blood orange, passion fruit and lime and garnished with orange rind ribbons.
11: LITTLE HAMILTON PROJECT (BASTION, NASHVILLE)
One of Nashville’s great bars and industry hangouts, Bastion continues to draw regulars to its warehouse space for well-made cocktails. While listening to records from the extensive vinyl collection, sip the Little Hamilton Project, a drink created by bartender Seth Litzenberg. The cocktail anticipates summer with Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish gin, a burst of apricot juice, and herbaceous complexity from rosemary pine syrup, with a rosemary sprig for garnish.