Booze Traveling with Gin: How and Where to Try It Around the World
Planning a trip? Take a page from Jack Maxwell’s book and find out how the locals enjoy their gin. You don’t have to shine shoes (as he did as a kid in Boston bars), but you should definitely stick around for a few stories.
Photo By: Photographer: Emilia Brandao
Photo By: Mike Denman
Barcelona: Bobby Gin
Bobby Gin’s most popular version is made with Hendrick’s and lemon thyme; bargoers also clamor for cocktails with Modernessia, a Spanish gin, infused with goji berries. (Click here for a sneak peek of Jack Maxwell’s trip to Barcelona.)
London (and Iceland): Martin Miller's Gin
Chicago: Letherbee Gin
Letherbee also distills limited-edition Vernal and Autumnal gins; this fall’s Bloody-Mary-ready, borscht-inspired run of 2,500 bottles is made with beets, dill, black pepper, caraway and cumin. The beauty pictured here, in turn, is the Thai Derby from Melody Nelson Bar in Berlin (6 cl Letherbee gin, 4cl lime juice, 2cl honey syrup, and a dash of Angostura bitters, shaken, strained, and garnished with sage and a pinch of Ceylon cinnamon). Thirsty for more in Chicago? Visit Gold Star Bar, one of Jack Maxwell’s favorite cash-only dives.
Gin-lovers in Amsterdam would do well to head to the Oud-West neighborhood and make themselves comfortable at Razmataz, a bar and restaurant which boasts more than 50 varieties of gin and two spins on G&T exploration: a professional-led tasting for large groups and a new, DIY version in which tasters are turned loose with three varieties of gin and an array of mixers and garnishes. Bestsellers and house favorites include Bobby’s (a Dutch gin that debuted in 2014), Dodd’s (a small-batch gin from London with lots of cardamom) and G&Ts finished with a splash of vermouth. (Click here to follow Jack Maxwell to Amsterdam and across the Netherlands.)
Alameda, CA: St. George Terroir Gin
Madrid: Gin Club
Caithness, Scotland: Rock Rose Gin
Brooklyn: Greenhook Gin
Greater Manchester, UK: The Old Bell Inn
The Old Bell Inn, an 18th-century former coaching inn in Saddleworth, broke the Guinness World Record for the greatest number of gins commercially available back in 2014 (with 404 total); owner Philip Whiteman says that they now have 775 different gins. It’s no trouble to pick favorites among them, reports mixologist Sam Winterbottom: "Most of the staff have one to recommend and luckily we have a diverse taste so no one tastes the same thing twice." When asked for an unusual choice, Winterbottom recommends the first gin produced locally in Manchester: "The Thomas Dakin [pictured above] has a unique savory flavor with 11 botanicals, including horseradish, based on a 1761 recipe, definitely more obscure." Has he ever met a gin he doesn’t like? "The non-alcoholic one would be high on the list!"
Wellington, South Africa: Jorgensen's Gin
Berlin: Monkey Bar
Berlin’s most enterprising gin enthusiast, the late Montgomery "Monty" Collins, was an Englishman—a wing commander in the RAF, more specifically, who came to the city after World War II as an administrator. Thirsty for the spirit he left back home, he developed his own gin recipe and named it for Max, his favorite Monkey at the Berlin Zoo. Black Forest Distillers consider that recipe the heart and soul of their own potion, now one of the leading gin brands in Germany. The best place to enjoy it, of course, is Berlin’s Monkey Bar, which perches on the 10th floor of the 25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin...and has an unparalleled view of the zoo. To enjoy gin as one does in Deutschland, prepare your own batch of Monkey Bar’s green apple gin (whizz one apple with a bottle of gin in a blender, let it rest for an hour and strain it through a cloth), or, if you find yourself at the bar, order a Rafiki (pictured here, with gin, rhubarb juice, rosemary, lemon balm, lemon juice and sugar syrup).
Oslo: Vidda Tørr Gin
Local, independent distilling is coming back to Norway (where, until last year, the State Wine Monopoly reigned supreme). The team at the brand-spanking-new Oslo Handverksdestilleri decided to make a Norwegian mountain gin that celebrated the Scandinavian tradition of foraging after a five-hour hike that culminated in the discovery of an ice floe in a mountain lake—which they wrapped in a jacket, hauled back home, and chopped into chunks for "one of the most beautiful G&Ts [we’d] ever had," they remember. Vidda ("mountain plateau") Torr ("dry") is infused with wild local botanicals like meadowsweet and heather; "we wanted to capture in a bottle the feeling of the mountain walk, the smells and taste of the mountain flora, and [the] experience of the extreme Norwegian climate." To taste the winner of Vidda’s first cocktail competition in its home country, head to Lysverket Bar in Bergen and ask for bartender Elias Vega’s Blossoms and Fjords—Vidda, Marka (the distillery’s bitters), lemon juice, honey and sugar, garnished with a lemon twist.