Some like tequila, while others go straight for the beer. Call me an old man, but for me, in the summer, nothing beats gin. Here are our top three picks for the best and brightest independently-produced gins in the United States — all perfect paired with a poolside lounge or a hammock in the shade.
Bluecoat American Dry Gin
I’m going to start with my favorite because this is my article and I’m calling the shots (so, there). But I think you’ll be glad I did. This gin has the perfect balance of flavor and bite, and it’s refreshing and incredibly smooth. I could actually sip it straight if I didn’t like double G&Ts so much.
Bluecoat is made practically in my backyard, at Philadelphia Distilling. The process sounds almost hipster: distilled in a custom, hand-hammered copper pot still using only the most flavorful organic ingredients like juniper berry, citrus peel, coriander, and angelica root. I’ll put on my nerd glasses and drink to that! Plus, the bottle looks gorgeous sitting on your home bar.
Aviation American Gin
Leaping straight across the US to Portland, we find Aviation, a small-batch spirit produced by a partnership between Seattle bartender Ryan Magarian and Christian Krogstad and Andrew Tice of Portland’s House Spirits Distilling.
This gin is comprised of botanicals sourced by the Oregon Spice Company, including elletaria cardamom, lavender, Indian sarsaparilla, and anise seed — along with the ubiquitous juniper berry, of course. The result is a rich, floral, and savory spirit that is uniquely Northwest.
Catoctin Creek Organic Watershed Gin
Hailing from the first — ahem — legal distillery in Loudoun County, Virginia since the Prohibition era, Catoctin Creek’s Watershed Gin is a full-bodied spirit lovingly crafted by former chemical engineer Becky Harris and her husband Scott, a software specialist who dreamed of owning a distillery. With big notes of licorice and anise and a soft juniper taste, Watershed Gin is certified organic and kosher.
Add a little sweet and sour to your tipple with this delicious cocktail from House Spirits Distilling.
- 2 ounces gin
- 1 ounce lemon juice
- 1 ounce honey syrup
In a pint glass, add spirits and mixers. Fill with ice and shake vigorously. Fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass; garnish with a lemon disc or twist. Plum Deluxe suggestion: Add a sprig of fresh basil to the shaker, or use as a garnish.
To make honey syrup:
Combine equal parts honey and heated water. Stir to dissolve honey, then cool.
Orange Gin & Tonic
This twist on the classic G&T will have you relaxing in the summer heat in no time. Perfect for back porch sipping!
- 2 ounces gin
- orange slice
- 2-4 ounces tonic water
Muddle the orange in a Collins glass. Add the ice and gin, then top with tonic water. Stir, garnish with an orange wedge, and enjoy.
Photo Credits: author, House Spirits Distilling, Catoctin Creek Distilling, House Spirits Distilling, and author.