PUBLISHED SEP 11, 2019 4 mins read
PUBLISHED SEP 11, 2019 4 mins read
Everyone likes a happy hour. And once you’ve built and stocked your home bar, you can have happy hour any time you like. No last calls, no rowdy strangers, no need to keep your shoes on. Just time spent with friends, drinking exactly what you want in the comfort of your own home, provided you have the right home bar setup.
There are infinite options when it comes to stocking your home bar. Which makes it hard to know where to start. Which spirit does what, what’s the difference, and how can you make the most of what you have? It’s a lot to consider. So let BigFish Spirits be your spirit guide. Pun intended.
From the 16th century until the 18th, gin was a key component of just about any celebration. At one point in history, a pint of gin was cheaper than a pint of beer. Soon after England blocked the sale of all French spirits, its popularity took off. Gin became both the cheapest option and one of the only options consumers had. Gin was everywhere you looked. In corner bars, high-class lounges and in people’s bathtubs.
The most common type of gin found in stores and bars today is the London Dry Gin. London Dry Gin is unsweetened and floral with a juniper-forward flavor profile. Juniper is the berry that gives gin its unique pine tree quality. This type of gin is typically used for Martinis, but because it’s the most popular style of gin, it can be used in pretty much anything and still be enjoyable. So long as you fancy the taste of juniper.
Genever is the original style of gin, invented in Holland at a time where people still thought alcohol still has medicinal value. This type of gin is made from malted grain, juniper, and botanicals. But despite the word “genever” coming from the Dutch word for juniper, “jenever”, juniper isn’t as prominent a flavor as it is in more common types of gin like the London Dry style. Instead, the rich flavor of malted grain comes through, perfect for cocktails like an Old Fashioned.
Other types of gin include Navy Strength, Old Tom, and New American Dry. Navy Strength is typically made in the London Dry style, but it must be at least 57% alcohol to ensure that if and when sailors spilled their gin on the gunpowder it would still light. Old Tom also has the same base ingredients as London Dry, but it’s slightly sweetened with simple syrup, making it the perfect addition to a Tom Collins. That’s what it was created to be in the first place.
Back when the laws were looser and gin was having its heyday, people used to make their own. While it sounds fun, the results were either unbearably harsh, overly sweetened, or downright dangerous. To cut costs, people would sometimes use turpentine as a substitute for juniper. Or cleaning agents as a substitute for alcohol. These homemade gins became especially common during America’s Prohibition, earning them the name “bathtub gin.”
It’s been around 300 years since the first gins were distilled, so what better time for a comeback than now? New American Dry style is the most recent evolution of gin. Also known as Western Dry style, this gin was created in the early 2000s as an alternative to the juniper-heavy options out there, and it proved successful. Some New American Dry Gins are cucumber heavy, while others have notes of grape or flowers. Because this style is so new and experimental in nature, each distillery’s gin has a separate set of ingredients, making every bottle a unique experience.
People have also started creating new gin experiences through barrel-aging. Each style of gin maintains its signature characteristics, but time in a barrel allows it to pick up notes of vanilla, oak, caramel, and other whiskey-like characteristics. For those who like the concept of Manhattans and Old Fashioneds but don’t like the spirit inside, you’ve found your perfect alternative.
It’s all guesswork until you’ve tried it, and the rest is up to you. Juniper isn’t always the star of the show, and each bottle is different, especially when you drink craft. Explore BigFish Spirits’ wide selection of gin and look for something entirely new. You may be surprised by what you like the best, so live a little and experiment the next time you’re making a cocktail.