As the weather starts to warm up, I reassess my cocktail choices. I'm a brown-liquor guy at heart, but in the warmer months, I find myself mixing more and more drinks with clear spirits. And this year, that means gin. I've come to love its herbal flavor, and I've started collecting varied bottles: some classically piney and juniper-laced, some lightly floral, some herbal and anise-y and citrusy.
I also love how adaptable gin can be: It lends itself to spirituous stirred drinks; it walks hand in hand with aromatic vermouth and bitter, complex aperitifs; but it also finds a home in refreshing fruit- and vegetable-based drinks that celebrate spring and summer. Yes, you can mix your gin with peaches, and you can mix your gin with peas—we'll show you how. If you want to learn more about this spirit, our guide to gin is a good place to start. If you just want to get drinking, keep reading for 45 great gin cocktails.
When most of us think of gin, the martini is the first drink that comes to mind. But have you ever spent some time figuring out your ideal version? Some folks like a 50-50 blend, and others just wave their vermouth anywhere in the vicinity of the glass. We're not here to say what's right or wrong. We'd recommend starting with a 2:1 ratio of gin to dry vermouth (get a fresh bottle!), plus a dash of orange bitters for an extra aromatic note. From there, you can play with the ratios until the drink makes you sloppy happy.
For a martini-like drink that's more on the savory side, try leaving out the vermouth and using savory sherry in its place. A young, bright sherry, like fino or manzanilla, works best. Use it liberally—sherry is subtler than vermouth, so don't start drier than a 2:1 ratio. To really play up the sherry's salty side, garnish the drink with a slice of good Spanish ham.
If you're not sure you're a gin drinker, try this old-school cocktail made with equal parts cognac, Old Tom gin, and sweet vermouth. Old Tom is a little sweeter and richer than other types of gin, and it gives the drink a silky texture and a soft herbal backbone that mingles seamlessly with the cognac and vermouth. The cocktail is super smooth, with hints of vanilla and candied orange that will appeal to fans of dark spirits.
The Obituary Cocktail
The Obituary starts like a very dry martini, but a little absinthe or Pernod adds a distinctive licorice flavor that highlights the aromatics in both the gin and the vermouth. It's complex, unusual, and darn tasty.
Unless you're something of a cocktail nerd, you're probably not familiar with Byrrh. (To start, it's properly pronounced something like "beer," but there's no malt or hops involved.) Byrrh is a classic pre-dinner sipper, a fortified red wine flavored with, among other things, quinine, coffee, and bitter orange. This simple drink pairs just a little Byrrh with gin, orange bitters, and a flamed orange peel garnish.
Fernet Branca is a bracingly bitter drink, and some people shoot it straight to show how tough they are. But if you're looking for a gentler experience, this combo of gin and sweet vermouth, plus a few dashes of Fernet, is worth adding to your cocktail-hour list. As you develop a taste for the bitter digestif, you can make the drink drier, bumping up the gin and Fernet.
This cocktail showcases Barolo Chinato, a fortified red wine that's somewhere between sweet vermouth and bitter amaro in flavor. The chinato gets paired with gin—Plymouth is a good pick, since it won't overpower the fortified wine, but you can use whatever you have on hand. A couple of dashes of Peychaud's Bitters gives the drink just a hint of anise flavor.
It's too bad this historical drink isn't on more bar menus; it's one of our true favorites. Grandfather to the modern martini, the Martinez starts with rich, slightly sweet Old Tom gin. (Seek out Ransom or Hayman's.) You'll add sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and bitters for results that are velvety and complex.
The toasty, warm flavors of the Martinez are boosted in this variation with a little date molasses and nutty Amontillado sherry. A twist of orange peel lends brightness to the drink, which is rich and silky without the use of the sweeter Old Tom gin.
This drink starts like a dry martini, but has a little more going on: Small amounts of absinthe and crème de violette add nice herbal and floral notes. Go with a bold, juniper-heavy gin, like Tanqueray, for this cocktail.
If you haven't yet had this bitter, refreshing combo of gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari, it's likely you've been living under a rock for the last dozen years. It's another equal-parts drink, though plenty of folks we respect up the gin content a little to make the mixture drier.
A Negroni will soothe you in the spring, but on a hot summer day, it's time to take to the blender. The key to a frosty drink without too much melted ice: Make the booze mixture the night before and chill it in your freezer so you're ready to go come party time. Blitz and get blitzed.
Lovers of licorice, here's your Negroni variation. A touch of absinthe gives a mild anise flavor to this cocktail; it works especially well with citrusy gins.
There are so many different plays on the Negroni that we've lost count, but this one's a whole category of recipes. Some White Negroni recipes call for the gentian root–flavored Suze, others for bitter Bonal. We use Cocchi Americano, which is a bit easier to find than either and works wonderfully with Dolin Blanc vermouth.
Fizzy or Frothy
It's tough to beat the elegance of a sparkling wine cocktail. The French 75 should be your go-to. You can use true Champagne, but since you're dosing it with herbal gin, tart lemon juice, and a little sugar, we think it's fine to pick an affordable Cava, Crémant, or Prosecco for this tart, refreshing drink.
Elderflower liqueur needs to be used sparingly to keep drinks from tasting perfume-y, but this one makes it work, mixing St-Germain with sparkling wine, gin, lemon juice, and a homemade thyme syrup. The cocktail is bright, herbal, festive, and balanced just right.
Wine isn't your only choice for making a fizzy cocktail—club soda can work wonders for lightening a drink. Here, soda gives a little effervescence to an easy-drinking gin cocktail that's made with vibrant fresh mint, lemon, and lime.
Charred Lemon Gin Sparkler
You're probably familiar with adding lemon to cocktails, but have you ever thought to cook the lemon first? Searing lemon halves mellows their bite and gives them a deep, complex flavor. For this drink, we pair juice from charred lemons with rosemary, sparkling wine, and a botanical-rich gin like St. George Botanivore.
This New Orleans standby is made with gin, cream, egg white, and citrus juice, topped off with fizzy seltzer. Traditionally, the drink would be made by shaking the mix vigorously for a solid two minutes, but that's a little too much work for me. If you want to cheat, feel free to use a blender. A purist might scoff, but it will save you a lot of effort.
Roses in the Snow Cocktail
This frothy take on a gin fizz gets its floral aroma from a little rosewater. Try it with floral-friendly Hendrick's or another gin that's light on the juniper.
Buttermilk Maple Gin Flip
A flip often calls for cream in addition to a whole egg, but in this one, we skip the cream and add tangy buttermilk. Maple syrup contributes richness to the foamy drink and complements the nutmeg garnish.
Fruity or Tart
White Peach Sangria
I love pairing sweet fruit with bracing gin. In this sangria, dry white wine is spiked with London Dry gin and flavored with white peaches and rosemary. Sangria can often be cloyingly sweet, but this one is wonderfully balanced—the rosemary and gin have an herbal edge that plays against the ripeness of the peaches.
A touch of St-Germain makes grapefruit juice taste more grapefruity somehow, highlighting the floral side of the fruit. Add gin and lemon and it's just begging for a place on your brunch table.
Intro to Aperol
This cocktail, from Pegu Club's Audrey Saunders, combines London Dry gin with juicy, bittersweet Aperol, lemon juice, simple syrup, and Angostura bitters. As the name suggests, it's a good choice for Aperol novices—it's fruity, herbal, and bittersweet, with the bitterness never becoming too pronounced.
Herbal Chartreuse is a natural match for gin's botanical flavors. It adds a potent touch of green herbs, anise, and honey to gin in this drink, balanced with fresh, tart lemon juice.
A little cognac comes to play with gin in this citrusy drink; it's just the thing to sip as you wait for the weather to warm. St-Germain pairs up with bright lemon and grapefruit to soften the punch of gin and brandy.
Income Tax Cocktail
You don't often see orange juice in a drink—it's a little tricky to mix with. But this cocktail makes great use of the fresh-squeezed stuff, pairing it with gin and both sweet and dry vermouth. A couple of drops of Angostura bitters gives this drink depth and spice.
Tangy kiwis pair beautifully with lime in this warm-weather drink. Gin and tarragon add herbal character that fits right in, and seltzer keeps the drink light. You can strain the muddled kiwi if you want, but the seeds don't do any harm.
We've started many a brunch with a mix of grapefruit juice and vodka, but we love this rendition made with gin (plus a little lime juice). You can serve it in a salt-rimmed glass, or sprinkle some Maldon right on top to let the salt flavor pop up in the drink itself.
The Hot and Cold
A hot toddy craving probably has you reaching for whiskey, but we'd like to make the case for a citrusy gin, such as New Amsterdam. For this soothing version, we add the gin to a mint tea base and mix in a sweet-tart cranberry syrup.
During Prohibition, people drank gin that was often pretty rough. To cover up the taste of the bad booze, they'd load drinks up with honey and lemon. Now that we have access to great gin, we recommend this version, which has four parts gin to one part each tart lemon juice and sweet honey syrup.
Spicy Melon Cocktail
Fresh fruit topped with lime juice and chili powder is one of my favorite summer snacks. To get the same refreshing flavors into a cocktail, we start by infusing gin with ripe cantaloupe. That fruity gin gets mixed with vermouth and lime juice, plus a cilantro simple syrup for a touch of savory flavor. A pinch of cayenne pepper adds just enough heat to make things interesting.
Corpse Reviver #2
The Corpse Reviver #2 was a staple back in the 1930s, but lingered in obscurity through much of the second half of the century. Fortunately, cocktail geeks have, um, revived this old-school drink. It's the kind of thing you might find yourself sipping for brunch and then drinking all day, made with juicy Lillet, orangey Cointreau, and fresh lemon, plus gin and a drop of absinthe.
Rum is king of the tiki drink, but that doesn't mean it's the only way to go. This gin-based cocktail is still plenty tropical, thanks to sweet, clove-spiced falernum, tangy passion fruit syrup, and orgeat. The tart combination will transport you right to the beach.
This highball is about as easy as it gets: just gin, lemon juice, sugar, and club soda. Find a sunny porch and get sipping.
Yes, the name comes from a rather unfortunate surgical procedure from the 1920s. But the drink is one we should circle back to: a mix of orange juice, grenadine, gin, and absinthe. It's a simple drink, so the quality of the ingredients is extra important—use freshly squeezed orange juice and real grenadine (which is easy to make at home).
The Last Word
This Prohibition-era cocktail was forgotten for decades before being popularized in the 2000s by Murray Stenson, then a bartender at Seattle's Zig Zag Café. It's an equal-parts combination that tastes much more complicated than it is, thanks to the layers of flavors in gin, Green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and lime.
It might look like a Cosmo, but this cocktail actually gets its color from Campari. The bittersweet Italian aperitif is tamed with Cointreau and lemon juice, and spiked with gin for a drink with a great grapefruit-like tartness.
This drink straddles the categories of bitter, fruity, and savory. It's made with just three ingredients—gin, Aperol, and cucumber—but the result is remarkable. Make this when you want something light to drink outside.
The Hot Pink
Horseradish and beets are a wonderful earthy match for each other, so we use them both (plus celery) in a savory, cider vinegar–based shrub syrup. Pair that shrub with bold Tanqueray or another juniper-forward gin, top with seltzer, and you've got a drink like no other.
Gazpacho Bloody Mary With Pickled Shrimp
This Bloody Mary variation doesn't use bread, or more than a little olive oil, but otherwise it's packed with the flavors of gazpacho: summer tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, red pepper, and garlic. We also add traditional Bloody Mary flavors, like horseradish, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and pickle brine. Instead of spiking it with vodka, we match the bright, vegetal flavors with gin.
I Dream of Greenie
This cocktail takes the classic combination of mint and peas and liquefies it. To incorporate the greens, we make a syrup with mint, peas, and spicy arugula. You can use mint leaves or mint tea bags—tea bags will impart a stronger mint flavor, but fresh mint leaves are brighter and more aromatic.
Gunpowder Gin Punch
Tea isn't uncommon in cocktails, but black tea tends to get all the love. For this big-batch punch, we go green, mixing gunpowder tea with gin, celery bitters, and a citrusy syrup. The vegetal bitters and earthy, grassy tea highlight the herbal side of the gin, while the lemon and lime in the syrup keep things friendly.
You see plenty of mint in drinks, but what about dill? This cooling drink pairs the herb with softly cucumber-y Hendrick's gin, bittersweet Cocchi Americano, and sweet maraschino liqueur. We also use Bittermens Boston Bittahs, which are flavored with citrus and chamomile—but you can experiment with other citrus-flavored bitters.
Smoky Sage Punch
Smoky lapsang souchong tea provides the savory base for this punch, which is also flavored with a homemade sage syrup along with orange curaçao, lemon juice, gin, and a citrusy oleo-saccharum made from lemon and orange zest.