Gin is a clear spirit I enjoy more than vodka. Aromatic and citrusy, I’ve learned to appreciate it more as time goes on.
Cheap gin is vile. Craft gins we have previously reviewed for Monsters and Critics’ cocktail of the week include Scotland’s excellent cardamom sidewinder Caorunn and cucumber and rose influenced Hendrick’s, Netherlands’ crisp lavender floral nose Nolet’s, France’s floral G’Vine Floraison Gin, Portland’s juniper forward Aviation gin and Texas’s earthy rosemary and juniper-laced Waterloo Gin.
Now two smashing newcomers from Massachusetts are making their mark as ones to seek out. You must try Dry Line Cape Cod Gin and Boston’s Bully Boy Estate Gin, as both bottles are elegant in design and worthy of collecting for their simplicity, much like my favorite Caorunn bottle shape. These made-in-the-USA gins are each equally worthy of your attention, affordable (under $60) yet have distinct flavor profiles that gin lovers should take note of.
If you are a fan of the herbaceous juniper and floral notes of a good gin, know that it IS meant for juniper to be the dominant flavor, especially in London Dry styles of gin. But the beauty of regional gins are their usage of the area botanicals along with that anchoring note of juniper that create a bit of magic.
You can also influence your average gin and tonic easily by having these special herbs and spices on hand. Below will be a suggested list you can collect and even package in clever organizers as a thoughtful gift for a friend’s bar.
Dry Line Cape Cod Gin uses juniper-producing Eastern Red Cedar that is only grown east of the 100° Meridian, so it absolutely will not mimic the Texas Waterloo Gin which relies on Lone Star herbs for their flavoring.
This is an amazing melange of essential oils including the requisite homegrown juniper berries, plus fragrant orange peel, lemon peel, cardamom, allspice, coriander, orris root, grains of paradise, also homegrown local angelica root, anise seed oil and being true to the Cape’s roots, dried cranberry.
Full disclosure, I’m a Cape Cod native yet never knew this distillery existed in Truro in the outer part of the Cape.
For a fantastic vacation I strongly recommend you visit the family that makes this gin, they offer tours and there’s nothing more beguiling than Cape Cod beaches after Labor Day when the tourists have left.
The next winner from Beantown is Bully Boy Estate Gin. We love Bully Boy and recommend their ready-to-pour The Old Fashioned – we were lucky to review that last year and let me tell you, all you need is ice and maybe a slice of orange (and I have to have a Luxardo cherry with mine too). The best.
Not surprising that their gin is off the charts delicious, with an unusual distilling that takes neutral grain and apple brandy made by them from distilled hard cider fermented at New England’s very cool up-and-comer Stormalong Cidery.
Bully Boy uses Albanian Juniper, coriander, lemon peel, and locally sourced Juniperus Virginiana, plus florals like Hibiscus, spicy notes like pink peppercorn, plus we tasted cardamom too.
The pink peppercorns add a spiciness to this gin that made it perfect for my favorite rendition of a hot August G&T, the Texas classics of ruby red grapefruit peel, lime juice, three juniper berries for luck and the star anise to be stirred with a nice fresh rosemary branch.
All of these notes complement each other to perfection. And the result? Well you tell me if you would refuse this beauty:
In an iced rocks glass, build this drink:
- 2 ounces Bully Boy Estate Gin
- Juice of one lime
- Top with good tonic water
- garnish as you see fit, we used fresh rosemary, red ruby grapefruit peel, juniper berries and a star anise pod:
Okay, the next faboo gin drink for the summer is the Negroni.
We used Dry Line Cape Cod Gin for this classic that demands a bitter element added along with the gin. So easy! Just even parts Dry Line gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth in an ice-filled rocks glass or a shaker with ice and strained into a glass either with or without the cubes. Garnish with an orange peel. Feel instantly Italian!
Gift guide for gin lovers — build your own aromatics container
You can purchase a ready-made “Gin Box” replete with the usual suspects, or go to the Container Store and get jiggy with your imagination.
This is a visual to inspire, but the sky is the limit for you to add dried fruit, spices, pink peppercorns, cardamom seeds, black peppercorns, star anise, licorice bark and more.
We especially love shaving our native Kumquats and dehydrating them (they look like over-fried potato chips) for a fruity nose – wonderful with the cardamom seed or star anise.
This is a cool gift to make for someone who has a home bar and likes to entertain!