We have been drinking gin for centuries, from the early days of Dutch Genever to the gin craze of 18th century London, when it became known as “mother’s ruin.” Gin remains popular today, with many distilleries around the country, and the world, making their own versions that often use regionally specific botanicals. Speaking of which, gin is essentially a neutral spirit that has been infused with a variety of herbs and spices, with juniper being the predominant flavoring aromatic. There are different styles of gin, the most well known of which is probably London dry (which does not have to be made in London, by the way). Gin remains the backbone of so much of cocktail culture—the martini, despite its popularity as a vodka drink, is really the quintessential gin drink. Today, gin is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, with bars that are entirely devoted to this fresh and vibrant spirit.
Here are some of the best places to enjoy a gin cocktail around the world.
Whitechapel, San Francisco
Drinking gin at Whitechapel is a deep dive into history and flavor. The bar, named after the East London neighborhood, practically reeks of juniper the minute you step inside. There are dozens of classic and newfangled drinks, variations on the martini, and even kopstootje—Dutch for “little head butt,” which is a shot of Genever and a beer. Don’t forget to try the the bar’s house gin, which is distilled right in the city.
It should come as no surprise that Amsterdam has some good gin bars, given the city’s association with the gin precursor Genever (basically a malt wine made from a recipe of different grains). Razmataz is one of the best in the city, with about 60 bottles ranging from dry to floral to sweet. On the cocktail side of things, there are sours, mules, and an entire section devoted to the Negroni, another important gin cocktail.
The Shanty, Brooklyn
If you find yourself in New York City looking for a good gin cocktail, head east to Brooklyn and visit The Shanty, the full-service bar that is part of New York Distilling Company. You can enjoy a cocktail made with one of the distillery’s top-shelf gins, like Dorothy Parker American Gin or the stronger Perry’s Tot Navy Strength Gin. Try a cocktail like the Saturn (Dorothy Parker Gin, falernum, lemon, passion fruit), or opt to down a beer and a shot of pink-hued Dorothy Parker Rose Petal Gin.
Mother’s Ruin Gin Palace, London
The name says it all—this is the bar to visit if you want to immerse yourself in the joys of gin while visiting London. Mother’s Ruin is located in a former WWI munitions factory, giving you plenty of space to stretch out and choose from more than 80 different kinds of gin. The bar is actually part of a distillery located here, where the team makes Old Tom gin and a variety of fruit liqueurs, all of which are used in the cocktails on the frequently changing menu.
The Spiffy Dapper, Singapore
At The Spiffy Dapper, drinks are taken seriously. The website lays out the theory of the cocktail: three parts (base spirit, balancer, lengthener) with two additional parts that can be employed—modifier and stabilizer. All that amounts to some seriously good drinks, many of which are made with one of the bottles from the owners’ extensive gin collection. There’s also a gin club you can join that includes a gin and tonic masterclass and a bottle of gin every month that you can keep at the bar to use in the drinks you order.
Dead Rabbit, Manhattan
New York City’s Dead Rabbit has been voted the world’s best bar a few times, and for good reason. There is an exceptional selection of Irish whiskey here, but that’s not all. There are some gin cocktails of note, like the Bionic Woman which combines a little bit of savory with a touch of sweet (Hepple gin, single hop spirit, sun dried tomato, golden raisin, pineapple). Other drinks pair gin with Irish whiskey or even mezcal, running the gamut on flavor and creativity.
The Flying Circus, Tokyo
If you’re looking for a drink in Tokyo there are plenty of options, ranging from a simple highball to some ecstatically complicated cocktails. There are also a few top-notch gin bars, like the circus-themed Flying Circus. There are more than 50 different gins to choose from here, including some tasty Japanese expressions, with which you can customize your gin and tonic or martini while eating some snacks under a striped tent.
Dry Martini, Barcelona
No visit to Barcelona is complete without enjoying a humble but refreshing gin and tonic, the classic cocktail that this city is known for. At Dry Martini, of course, you can order one of these, but you’re better off ordering the namesake drink. After all, when it opened 40 years ago, that’s all that was served. The vibe here is professional and classy, with smartly dressed waiters serving expertly made drinks that have stood the test of time.
The Gin Palace, Dublin
Irish gin is having a moment, which a stop at Dublin’s Gin Palace will confirm. But there are also plenty of other gins from around the world to drink here, as well as a gin club that especially motivated fans can sign up for. If you can’t decide on a cocktail, order a tasting tray to sample a few. And on a cold day, try some tea spiked with gin for a nice warm kick.
The Gin Corner, Rome
The Gin Corner is located in Rome’s Hotel Adriano. This bar is dedicated entirely to gin, with a menu that offers expressions ranging from “classic” to “ultra premium” that you can choose from for your own personalized gin and tonic. If you’re looking for other traditional gin cocktails, the menu has it covered with options like a Singapore Sling, Martinez, Aviation, and a variation on a martini made with sweet vermouth and orange juice.