Gin’s distinctive juniper flavor makes it both a huge hazard and a massive boon when it comes to mixology. When it is put with the right clean tonic or slid into a glass with the ideal amount of Aperol, it’s a wonder. When it’s done wrong you feel like you’re chewing on a pine tree and it’s guaranteed to make your tongue ache and your liver quiver. For all its refinement, a bad gin cocktail is still one of the worst flavors on the planet, which is why we did all the hours and hours and hours of drinking research necessary to get it right and bring you the 30 best gin cocktails for your imbibing pleasure.
In case you didn’t know, gin is actually healthy for you in moderation, and a gin and tonic can even help fight malaria. From reducing the risk of heart disease to clearing up problem skin thanks to the antioxidants, a gin cocktail is one of the kindest things you can do for your body, and the best thing you can do for your stressed brain.
1. Gin and Tonic
Gin is a predominantly British spirit, but thanks to England’s occupation of India, it met with quinine tonic, a bitter medicinal aid British officers were forced to take in the hot, disease-ridden country. Due to the low cost of both materials, the striking mixture of flavors, and the wonderful effects, the gin and tonic became a favored drink that has been refined over more than a century to this perfect recipe.
2. The Last Word
Crafted by the Detroit Athletic Club during the prohibition era, The Last Word was a cult favorite that died away for generations until it was revived in 2004 by a Seattle bartender named Murray Stenson. Since then it has grown huge as the mix of Chartreuse, maraschino, lime, and gin finds a new life and truly gets the last word.
3. The Gin Hound
Without mincing words, this is a gin lovers dream. A perfect summery cocktail made from grapefruit and lime juices, there’s more than enough gin to help put the cap on a perfect night, or aid in facing the day with a little hair of the rabid juniper dog. Best served over rocks, lest the stiffness flatten you out.
4. Negroni Cocktail Sphere
Inspired by the “Old Fashioned in the rocks” idea of mixing a drink inside of an icy receptacle, the Sphere uses a little modern know-how with a timeless Negroni recipe to craft a killer drink that is perfectly chilled for warm days and steamy nights. Be warned: It takes practice to do it right, so only imbibe after attempting to make it for the first time.
From two guys at the Milk & Honey in New York, the Archangel is your savior from rough days, hard knocks, and long nights. With just Aperol, muddled cucumber, and plenty of gin, it has a light, breezy flavor that is sure to sweep you away faster than an island storm.
6. Rosemary no.3 – Blood Orange Negroni
A bastardized invention that came from the sweetly scented and bitter-rich Rosemary no.2 out of the Balena restaurant in Chicago, there’s a lot that goes into this cocktail – from blood oranges to sweet vermouth – but what comes out is a Negroni-style tipple that pairs wonderfully with spicy or rich cuisine or stands marvelously alone.
7. French 75
Sugar, bitters, and sparkling wine, this cocktail is actually more popularly made with brandy, but we prefer the original from author Nick Mautone which employs the subtle use gin. There’s no shortage of sweet, titillating flavors in the French 75, making it a perfect celebratory mixture with more than a little kick.
8. Gin Rickey
Named for fierce political animal and serious drinker “Colonel Joe” Rickey, the Gin Rickey is a turn of the century drink that is D.C.’s answer to similar heat-beating summer cocktails. As simple as pouring, all you need is lime, club soda, and plenty of Tanqueray London Dry. Swirl, sip, and enjoy.
Actually created in Milan in the 1860’s, the Americano earned it’s name when prohibition hit the United States of America and serious drinkers would go far afield and order this at bars around the world. Mixed in the same glass as an old fashioned or collins with Campari and vermouth, it might not have first been made here, but it’s damn sure American by adoption.
10. The GBC
Practically a bitter salad (Gin, Basil, Cucumber is what the GBC stands for), there’s a nice herbal mixture here between basil and cucumber that supplements the smoothness of the gin and then pairs it with the sharpness of tonic water. Practically a showpiece it’s almost a shame to have to drink it, but rest assured, once you try it, you’ll need to finish the glass – and probably the pitcher.
11. Hoperol Flip
If you aren’t a fan of hoppy India Pale Ale’s, this might just make you into a convert. Stiffening up the hoppy IPA flavor with gin and Aperol, along with an egg white for protein, you’ll get a frothy, foamy, fun drink that teases the senses and bears plenty of backbone.
12. The Killer B
This takes the sweet-as-sin Bee’s Knees cocktail and knocks it up a notch with a spicy chili afterburner. Using a Thai bird chili-white peppercorn simple syrup, there’s still hints of sweetness to it so as not to burn your tastebuds off, but the fire it will put in your belly will bring you back time and again.
13. Cucumber Mint Gin Coolers
This is the perfect camouflage for your cocktail if you run with the wheat grass and green dream antioxidant crowd. Using a mixture of cucumber and mint along with some club soda, these Gin Coolers offer up a sweet, boozy mixture that has the same green appearance as a gym smoothie, but are much more fun than an endorphin rush.
14. Perfect Gin Martini
Whenever anyone says they know the “right” way to make a martini, the resultant discussion is going to come to blows. Well, start swinging, because this recipe may have cracked the code for making the ideal martini, and it uses just gin, not vodka, and should be garnished with a twist for the added citrus accessory.
15. Pomegranate & Grapefruit Gin Cocktail
You would think that someone mixing up a killer cocktail could drum up a decent name, but no matter. Pitting the bitterness of grapefruit with the tanginess of pomegranates, this works well as a nice morning sipper with just the gentlest of buzzes on the back end.
16. The Swamp Spice Flip
Pear, rosemary, and lemon juice with egg whites and simple syrup infused with cloves, we confess that this has a lot of ingredients, but it’s well worth the extra work. With the curious rosemary affectation, the Flip pairs best with a bite in the autumnal air and is sure to give you a nip and a boost for an evening of revelry.
17. An Old-Fashioned Spring
Old Fashioned cocktails are best had when you need to warm yourself by the fire. When you’re looking for a similar swig with more of a summer appeal, this variation will have you laying back during the hot months. Created using gin, bitters, and simple syrup, it’s a little more sweet and a little less spirit than its progenitor.
18. Ramos Gin Fizz
Sweet, frothy, and utterly refreshing, this is a timeless gift from New Orlean’s barman Henry C. Ramos who was mixing magic back in the 1880’s. The flavor is cream soda with a mature sensibility but a mirthful twinkle of fun while the orange flower water gives it a scent you’ll love having on your breath.
19. Boozy Watermelon Rosemary Lemonade
If that kid down the block served these up, he’d have an unbeatable business plan. It takes a tasty lemonade recipe that works all on its own and cranks up the volume using a little (or a lot if you so choose) of gin to give it plenty of body and more than enough backbone.
20. Blood Orange Gin and Tonic
It’s hard to improve on perfection, but with just some blood orange juice and a dash of bitters, you’ll find this twist on the gin and tonic recipe breathes new life into it. By switching up the amount of blood orange juice, gin, and tonic, you can get a whole different experience from glass to glass.
21. The Danger Zone
Originally attributed to the Savoy Cocktail Book, The Aviation cocktail was actually first made by Hugo Ensslin and the recipe published in Recipes for Mixed Drinks in 1917. That means it is old and out of date. The Danger Zone is an updated, powerful version that gives this a Habanero extension that will send you into the stratosphere.
22. Cucumber Gin Lemonade
There’s no reason that a basic glass of healthy juice needs to be boring. Gin is the perfect addition to almost any lemonade recipe and with a few cucumber slices, this barely counts as a cocktail. Easy to make with stuff you have lying around, this is the recipe that your juicer was made for.
23. Gin Spritz
Equally perfect for being served on the deck of a yacht, a balcony over the city, or the back porch you attached to your trailer, there’s a sense of class and style to the Gin Spritz that comes from enjoying the simple things. Muddled lime, mint, and sugar along with Prosecco is all that is required and all you’ll need for a pleasant evening.
24. Jim Meehan’s Negroni
The Negroni is one of the few cocktails with a well-documented history. It is anthologized in the book Sulle Tracce del Conte: La Vera Storia del Cocktail Negroni, which tells the tale of its creation for Count Camillo Negroni. This version is far more recent and comes from the myth, the legend, the barman, Jim Meehan. Simple Campari and vermouth is all you need to mix this sophisticated classic.
25. Cucumber Ginger Gin Fizz
Perfect for cleansing the palette, this light, airy fizz recipe is built to refresh, revitalize, and stimulate your senses to better accept the next new flavor. The quaint bite of ginger adds a little twist that opens up your nasal passages and will enhance everything you are eating or drinking, but it also scintillates all on its own.
26. Earl Gray Tea Cocktail
Caffeine is known to help facilitate the effects of liquor, and while gin is not a good mix for coffee or most energy drinks, it does go perfectly with a spot of tea and some lavender. A little honey, a dash of lemon, and this Earl Gray quaff can be served hot or cold depending on the weather and your mood.
27. Mother’s Day Bramble
Forget the chocolates and the breakfast in bed. A well-mixed Bramble is how you show mom you really care and understand all she goes through. Using simple syrup and crème de mûre, this purple delight is sweet as pumpkin pie with a bit of a bite, just like your dear old mom. Easy to mix for any occasion, it’s a guilty pleasure for dads, sons, daughters, and everyone else.
28. The Salty Dog
The Salty Dog is basically a Greyhound made with gin and grapefruit juice, served in a highball glass adorned with a salt layer around the rim. About as basic as you can get, there’s no need to be a professional to get this right. Nonetheless, it helps the medicine go down smoothly and is a great place to start your foray into the world of mixology.
29. Burleighs White Lady
An easy and gorgeous cocktail, this is worth learning how to mix just because it is sure to impress with its decadence. First made in 1919 after the end of the Great War, this uses several rich ingredients as a celebration of life and an affirmation that to drink and be merry is to spit in the eye of death. Indulge, says this mix of gin and Cointreau, and rejoice.
30. Grapefruit Tarragon Gin and Tonic
And the circle is complete. For our final cocktail, we chose this alteration of the gin and tonic that throws all kinds of wonderful wrenches into the mix. We never thought we’d be pulling out the tarragon for a mixture, but that special spice was the perfect touch to make a modern gin and tonic that sings.