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10 Hot Places to Drink Gin Around the U.S.

By Molly Durham
August 28, 2013

In the 1940s and '50s, gin was the drink of choice for many, when martinis were king and three-martini lunches the norm. It’s recently had a resurgence to the point that entire bars are created to play with the juniper-flavored spirit. Gin bars are creating elevated, fancy and creative gin cocktails, but they’re also putting plays on the classic G&T that cater to modern tastes. Here's a list of 10 spots around the country that are doing something special with the old-school spirit.

  • Scofflaw in Chicago, IL
    When Danny Shapiro left The Whistler, he had pretty much the best cocktail training you can get in Chicago, and he did something totally gin-focused with it. Scofflaw features carefully crafted gin cocktails with local flair. Their Swizzle #3 is made with Death's Door gin from Door County, WI, while the Jasmine uses North Shore #6 gin from Lake Bluff, IL. They even created their own formula of Old Tom gin named for the bar. They also have great food and serve free warm cookies at midnight, if this wasn’t already enough to win you over.

  • Bathtub Gin in NYC
    In true speakeasy style, it’s incredibly confusing to find the entrance to this bar. A red light leads you to a hidden room behind Stone Street Coffee Company. While they’ve got a really well-rounded menu in general, their Gin/Shakin and Gin/Stirred lists hold a total of about a dozen gin cocktails, which include mostly classic ingredients. Even if there’s nothing crazy going on in the drinks, the choices are immaculate and plentiful.

  • Photo by: Ken Wyner

    PX in Alexandria, VA
    At PX, blue lights lead you inside, in lieu of any proper signage and The Washingtonian described the interior as “what looks like a wealthy friend’s living room.” The 38-seat lounge full of velvet chairs and booths is run by Todd Thrasher, who makes it clear how serious he is about the drinks with his title of “General Manager, Sommelier & Liquid Savant.” All juices are hand-squeezed, all bitters are housemade, and the cocktail menu changes weekly.

  • DOSA in San Francisco
    The cocktail list at DOSA’s two locations are heavy on gin, though you might not expect it from an Indian restaurant. The Valencia location offers three unique gin cocktails include the South Indian Gin & Tonic made with housemade fig and cardamom tonic, and the Bengali Gimlet with curried nectar. The Fillmore location has 43 varieties of gin and three separate gin cocktails. The spirits menu also has an entire page describing the six types of gin, so you can get a complete gin education here.

  • Photo by: FloridagirlinDC

    Estadio in DC
    Estadio puts a spin on the most classic gin cocktail: the gin and tonic. The plain kind alone is super refreshing, but they add even more citrus and flavor. This contemporary Spanish restaurant infuses their own tonic with ingredients like orange and thyme, elderflower and tarragon and basil.

  • Pegu Club in NYC
    The Pegu Club is the name of a drink made with gin, orange liqueur, lime juice and Angostura bitters, and it will knock you off your feet. So will going to Pegu Club, its namesake bar. A second-floor secret on Houston, apparently the name is modeled after a late 19th-century British officers' club in Burma. It’s the birthplace of the Gin Gin Mule, a gin cocktail made with homemade ginger beer, mint and lime. They have dropper bottles of juice, bitters and syrup at each table to let you customize your cocktail, dropping the pretense level down about 10 notches and admitting that you should have it just how you like it.

  • The Gin Joint in Charleston, SC
    The name of this Charleston spot makes it abundantly clear what the specialty of the house is by its name alone. No secret entrance, no light to follow, but still a great speakeasy-type feel with a huge selection of gin cocktails. They’ve got some creative options, but the most interesting is the list of words on the left side of their menu, from which you can choose two and the bartender will concoct something. Those words include refreshing, tart, fizzy, spicy, liquorice, unusual and even nonalcoholic. They also have a bunch of Southern snacks like pimento cheese and shrimp and grit fritters to down while you drink.

  • The Sazerac Bar in New Orleans, LA
    The gin fizz is a New Orleans classic. When it was created in the 1930s, the mayor flew a bartender to the New Yorker Hotel to teach the New York bartenders how to make it correctly, so he would never be without it on his visits. Its birthplace was The Roosevelt Hotel, and its drinking hole plays homage to that. Sazerac Bar isn’t a place where gin is the main focus (it’s also a great place to get a Sazerac cocktail), but it’s one that holds a serious place in New Orleans gin tradition. Their Ramos gin fizz (Ramos after its creator) is made with Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, citrus, cream, egg whites, sugar, orange flower water and finished with club soda.

  • New Heights Restaurant in DC
    This restaurant’s bar has its own name, the Babinga Bar & Gin Joint. More than 50 gins from all over the world line the pages of the basement bar’s menu at New Heights. You can go simple and order a gin and tonic flight, which gives you three simple combos. Or you can branch out and go with a cocktail like the Sir Francis the Great, with fennel liqueur and lemon thyme olives, or the Filibuster with heirloom tomato water, Lillet blanc and basil. They also have a rotating gin of the month, usually a rare one, if you really want to get your gin nerd on.

  • Brasserie S&P in San Francisco, CA
    A bar selection almost entirely devoted to gin is nestled in the Mandarin Oriental bar. Its focus: gin and tonics. At Brasserie S&P, customers can customize their G&Ts with their choice of 31 gins, tonic water (including 2 housemade varieties) and garnishes. Fennel tonic, saffron tonic and signature Sensei #1 tonic all make appearances on the list, as well as celery fennel apple infused Hendrick’s and blackcurrant hibiscus. No one can claim bar manager/sommelier Priscilla Young isn’t creative.

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