Are you a gin lover wanting to know more about Australian Gin?
Everyone loves supporting local producers wherever possible, but with new distilleries popping up all the time, it’s hard to stay on top of what’s out there.
So where do you start? Where do go to get a uniquely Australian tasting gin? This guide cover’s everything you need to know!
In 2016 there’s so much more out there than your straight-up London Drys of old, with new styles and flavour combinations getting released all the time.
Australia is kicking goals on the international stage taking down award after award at some of the world’s most prestigious competitions. Gin has become hugely popular among bartenders, dominating the cocktail sections of most cocktail menus.
With a little bit of knowledge, you can create world-class gin cocktails at home, without too much effort at all! Swap out the regular cocktail cabinet regulars like Tanqueray and Beefeater for some high-quality Australian small-batch gin.
Impress your guests at your next birthday party with a round of Martinis or bust out a Tom Collins this Christmas.
This guide will take you from gin novice to pro in no time. Find out everything you need to know from the history of gin, to the best Australian gins to try, and what Australian bars to go to for an outstanding cocktail.
1. What is in Gin?
At the most basic level, gin is a flavoured spirit.
Most commonly this base spirit is grain based (barley, maize), however, it can anything including molasses and grape. Gin is predominantly flavoured with juniper berries, with different ‘botanicals’ added which provide each individual gin with its distinctive flavour qualities.
These botanicals, essentially flavouring ingredients, include herbs, fruits, berries, and spices. The botanicals used are often a guarded secret, and each distillery will have their own distinctive recipe.
Some commonly used gin botanicals include:
• Angelica root
• Orris root
• Lemon and orange peel
Unlike most spirits, the majority of gins (London Dry’s etc) are not generally aged, however particular varieties such as Dutch Genever appreciate some time in the barrel.
Many gins incorporate botanicals that are native to their country of origin, and this is certainly the case with Australian gins, which utilize many indigenous plants, herbs and spices.
There are different types of gin classifications and corresponding legal guidelines outlining the standards to which each must be produced, for example, London Dry. The different styles of gin vary drastically in colour and flavour with most destined for the cocktail glass, however certain gins are consumed straight or on the rocks.
Distiller Cameron Mackenzie with still ‘Wilma’ Src: abc.net.au
How is gin made?
The gin distillation process is complicated and in most cases, best left to the professionals. However there are plenty of articles online, such as this one from Gin Monkey or this one from Jeffrey Morgenthaler, that explain how to make compound gin at home without a still. You can pick up a Homemade Gin Kit($49.95) which is a cheap and accessible way to get into gin production.
Compound gins (juniper-flavoured spirit made not via the redistillation of botanicals) are common amongst mass-produced, cheap gins, however all of the high quality Australian Gins are created using a more complex re-distillation process.
For a more detailed description of the distillation process, check out The Serious Eats Guide to Gin, an awesome in-depth feature by Michael Dietsch.
Did you know?
Centuries ago in Holland Gin, was used as a tonic to cure ailments such as stomach aches, gout and gallstones
2. A Brief History of Gin
Did you know?
Gin is in more cocktails than any other spirit. Unlike many other spirits Gin is made to be mixed rather than consumed straight.
HOT TIP: Want to know more about the history of gin? Simon Difford’s History of Gin: A Timeline in 8 Parts is a detailed, indispensable read that covers everything you’d ever want to know.
3. Gin Varieties: What are the different types of gin?
There are many different types of gin styles to sample, many of which are produced in Australia by small-batch, craft distilleries. Because gin is flavoured using a wide array of botanicals, the difference in flavor, even within the same ‘classification’ can be huge.
The 7 gins you’re most likely to encounter are:
• London Dry
• Old Tom
• Dutch Genever
• Navy Strength
• New Wave
• Flavoured/Infused Gins (e.g. Sloe)
• Plymouth Gin
Did you know?
This is by far the most popular type of gin and dates back hundreds of years. The most commonly purchased gin brands are of this classification. Gins such as Beefeater, Tanqueray and Bombay Sapphire are all London Drys. There are strict legal regulations defining how this variety of gin must be produced.
The name is slightly deceptive, as the majority of London Dry’s don’t come from London at all. In fact, many of the quality Australian small-batch gins are brewed in this style due to its versatility.
London Dry is a balanced, yet bold gin and as it’s title would suggest, this style is much drier than some of the other gins on this list. The ‘London Dry’ variety has developed significantly over the years, and as Gin Foundry argues, the definition will most likely have to be altered in years to come.
Tasting notes: Juniper and Citrus
Perfect cocktail: The Classic Dry Martini
Did you know?
Only a handful of ‘London Dry Gins’ are actually made in London
Where the name comes from is a much-debated topic within gin circles. Like much of the tapestry of liquor history, the origins of ‘Old Tom’ are a patchwork quilt, sewn together with partial facts, incomplete stories, old wives tales and heresy.
Old Tom traces its roots back to the 19th century when the quality of gin was exceptionally poor, so sugar was added to mask the astringency and create a sweeter and more palatable drink.
It is often referred to as “the missing link” between London Dry and Dutch Genever, being sweeter and fuller in body than the former, and lighter than the latter, which has malty scotch-like characteristics.
In the early 20th century, as the quality of other gins increased, the popularity of Old Tom took a dive, and by the 1970s it had disappeared from radar altogether. However, over the past few years, Old Tom has seen a mighty resurgence, winning favour with bartenders during the mixology revolution.
Cruikshank’s engraving of The Gin Shop (1829) Source: Wikipedia
This type of gin is a perfect entry point for non-gin drinkers and the gin-phobic. With a slightly lower alcohol percentage, it’s much sweeter and less aggressively flavoured by juniper, which makes it versatile and approachable.
Australian producers have embraced the Old Tom craze, with Kangaroo Island Spirits producing an award-winning version. Following traditional conventions, the KIS Old Tom is aged in French oak, with a distinctly Australian flavour from daisy bush, lemon myrtle and aniseed myrtle.
Tasting notes: Sweet and earthy
Perfect cocktail match: Has to be a Tom Collins
Ad for popular genever brand, Bols. Source: frontiermixology.files.wordpress.com/
Genever or ‘Dutch Gin’
This style is the grandfather of gin. Harking back to the very first gin ever created, this variety is a bold, robust and full flavoured. Heavy on malt, Genever is the whisky of the gin world. Unlike most other gin types which gain complexity when mixed, genever becomes diffuse when mixed, so many prefer to serve this neat or on the rocks, especially the more malty versions. That’s not to say it’s not still great in heaps of cocktails, and it forms the basis of some the oldest gin cocktails such as the Holland House.
Genever is broken down into three main styles:
Malty and sweet, this gin must consist of at least 15% malt wine, and at most, 50%.
Less malty than oude and more akin to Dry gin, Jonge consists of at most 15% malt wine; the remainder is neutral grain spirit.
The maltiest of the three, this is the closest to Scotch that gin gets. Made from at least 51% malt wine, but no more than 70%, Korenwijn is harded to find and will make a solid dent in the back pocket.
Some of the popular brands of modern genever-style gin are Bols Genever, Fillier Jenever, and Zuidan Genever, all of which are readily available to consumers.
Just like Champagne and Scotch Single Malt Whiskey, Genever has Appellation D’origine Controlee status meaning it can only be produced in the Netherlands which means it is unlikely we’ll be seeing any Australian versions soon.
Tasting notes: Viscous mouth feel with strong malt characteristics
Perfect cocktail match: Straight up on the rocks, or check out this selection of great Genever-based cocktails.
Did you know?
David Bowie’s favourite cocktail was a Martini made with Bombay Saphire, whilst F. Scott Fitzgerald preferred a Gin Ricky
Navy Strength Gin
This stuff is sure to get you sideways! Clocking in with an ABV (Alcohol By Volume) of 57% or above (by law), this is one serious, serious booze. Word of caution: this is for dedicated gin lovers only.
So why the high percentage of alcohol?
Time-travel back to the early 1800s where gin was required carryon for British Naval ships. At the time, there were many medical ailments brought about by the poor conditions of sea-travel. Things like malaria and scurvy were rife, and gin was thought to be somewhat of a cure-all for these illnesses.
But to ‘do the job’, so to speak, it had to be strong. Damn strong. And so, a test was devised to sort the “medicinal strength” stuff from the watered down rubbish. Gin with an alcohol level of 114 proof (57% ABV) or above would ignite gunpowder and was thus deemed to be Navy Strength Gin.
Sailors drinking Gin Source: s4.insidehook.com
Back to 2016 and Australia is producing some world class Navy Strength Gins including offerings by Four Pillars and West Winds.
Navy strength gins are universally loved by bartenders for their cut -through in cocktails. The added alcohol allows the Gin to remain the dominant flavour when other strong ingredients are present (for example a Negroni, which also contains sweet vermouth and Campari).
Tasting Notes: A bold and boozier version of a London Dry
Perfect cocktail match: The original Gimlet – gin, lime juice and sugar spirit.
Just like with the rise of craft beer, where there has been a shift away from your standard lagers to a more ‘exotic’ offering, so to has there been a noted shift in the gin market.
The past few years have seen an explosion in the number of boutique micro-distilleries, and a new breed of gin is emerging. Gin used to be reserved for suburban grandmas and the relatives of 18th-century sailors, now it’s something exciting and mainstream.
Like with all traditions, they’re made to be broken, and it was only a matter of time before
Source: ginfoundry.com. The juniper-heavy
gins of old made way for fresh and innovative new tastes.
The phrase ‘new wave’ is a catch-all to describe all gins that put less emphasis on juniper and more emphasis on other aromatics like floral botanicals and citrus. It’s a stylistic collective rather than a legal one.
Australia has emerged as one of the players to be reckoned with, with plenty of skin in the new wave game. Australia’s access to unique native flora has resulted in exciting new flavour profiles, with a throng of award-winning gins coming out of the country.
Tasting notes: Variable based on the botanicals used
Perfect cocktail match: Simplicity is the key so as not to mask the nuanced flavours. Go basic with a Gin and Tonic or check out this awesome list of 35 Gin Cocktails from Bonapetit.
Src: www.thespiritsbusiness.com. Unlike London Dry, Plymouth
gin is a protected geographical indication
– that is, it must be produced in Plymouth. Whilst their used to be many brands, The Black Friars Distillery (established in 1793!) is the only remaining company producing Plymouth Gin today. The Plymouth
brand gin has an alcohol percentage of 41.2%
and is also available in a Navy Strength. Given that this type of gin must be produced in Plymouth, England, it’s highly unlike we’ll be seeing Australian versions anytime soon!
Tasting notes: Less dry than London dry. Extra root ingredients give earthiness.
Perfect cocktail match: Goes well with anything you’d use a London Dry for. Check out this awesome collection of cocktails featuring Plymouth Gin from Make Me a Cocktail.
These are essentially gins that are infused with different flavouring and aromatic agents such as fruits. The most common of these is ‘Sloe Gin’ which is infused with sloe berries giving it a distinctive pink colour and tart, fruity flavour. Australian distiller, McHenry’s, does a great rendition with their Old English style Sloe Gin.
With infused gins, the ingredients are added at the end of the process to a finished gin and left to soak, which differs from the botanicals, which are generally added at the start of the distillation process.
Gins can be infused with just about everything from raspberries to truffles and it is not difficult to infuse commercial gins at home.
Australian Ink Gin is one notable example, infused with exotic butterfly pea flowers, imparting a distinctive blue/magenta hue.
Flavour profile: Highly dependent on the base spirit and infusion ingredients
Perfect cocktail match: Check out this list of Sloe Gin recipes from Drinks Mixer, or these 7 cocktail recipes from Sipsmith that are perfect for the cooler months.
Did you know?
The original Martini was with Gin. A clever advertising campaign by Smirnoff and James Bond lead to the increase in popularity of Vodka Martini
4. The Australian Secret: Native Botanicals
“Australian food, to me, has to show some understanding of your landscape.”
– Rene Redzepi, Noma
Not only food, but drink too.
Australia has a plethora of native plants – nuts, berries, herbs, spices, vegetables and fruits – which have been used by Aboriginals for tens of thousands of years. These unique foods are beginning to become more popular making their way onto haute cuisine menus.
Similarly distillers have realised how lucky we are to have accesses to these ancient ingredients.
Australian gin makers have embraced these native botanicals to make gins that have a uniquely Australian flavour.
The chart below highlights some of the ingredients in gin that are distinctly Australian. All of these botanicals are native, and you can find them in a range of different Australian Gins.
It also briefly outlines the flavour profile of each ingredient.
Did you know?
Some gins have over 30 ingredients! Unlike other spirits, numerous botanicals are used to flavour the spirit in different ways meaning that no two gins are alike
5. Best Australian Gin: The 17 Gins You Must Try Today!
A selection of Australia’s best gins
Despite Australian small-batch spirits being readily available in bars, bottle-shops, and online, they still only make up around 2% of the total Australian market.
Gin is continually increasing in popularity with consumption on the rise in Australia. The study shows that the average number of monthly gin drinkers has increased from 633,000 adults to 860,000.
Whilst the majority of gin sales in Australia are still made up of the big players such as Beefeater, Tanqueray and Bombay Sapphire, small Australian distillers are definitely making their mark, both locally and abroad.
We’ve rounded up a selection of some of the best Australian gins, worthy of a tipple (in no particular order).
Four Pillars – Rare Dry Gin
Image courtesy of Cheatsheet.com. Established in 2013, Four Pillars
has cemented its position as one of Australia’s premiere gin distilleries
. Their Rare Dry Gin is an accessible, all round favourite that combines classic flavor profiles with a modern Australian twist.
A gin that takes spice notes from cardamom, the star anise and cinnamon present subtleties of Christmas pudding all supported by the warm hum of Tasmanian pepperberry. Native Lemon Myrtle provides citrus relief, which is a welcome alternative to traditional lemon.
The quality of this Australian has not gone unnoticed, winning Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2014 and again in 2016.
Mclarren Vale Distilling Company – Oak Aged Gin
Image courtesy of mybottleshop.com.au. Settlers
specialise in small batch artisan spirits of all descriptions. Their product offering includes whisky, vodka, liqueur and, of course, gin. Settlers take a different approach to gin production; using grape spirit rather than grain to create a softer mouth feel with an enhanced floral finish. Their vapour distillation process ensures maximum flavor uptake of botanicals.
The Oak Aged is a punchy triple distilled gin “with attitude”. Underpinned by native botanicals such as saltbush, cranberry and muntrie berries (native to South Australia) it gets a liquorice finish from angelica root and caraway.
Archie Rose Distilling Co – Signature Dry Gin
Image courtesy of Archie Rose. Proving that not all great Australian gins come out of rural areas, Archie Rose’s Signature Dry Gin is something special. Crafted in a custom-made copper still, this rare gem uses fourteen botanicals – traditional and native – to create a delightfully complex flavour. Archie Rose
is the first micro-distillery in Sydney since the 1850s
, with experienced head distiller Joe Dinsmoor (ex-Lark) at the helm.
The bold juniper in this Signature dry is refreshed by river mint, then there’s tartness from lemon myrtle and blood lime, whilst Dorrigo pepperleaf adds a distinct spicy characteristic.
The Melbourne Gin Company – Dry Gin
Image courtesy of broadsheet.com.au. As a Yarra Valley winemaker, Andrew Marks already knew a few things about making delicious beverages before he began producing gin in 2012.
He set about producing a spirit that spoke of Melbourne, something that tasted like the true essence of the city. Most would agree he’s done exactly that. Just like Melbourne’s arterial network of hidden laneways, Melbourne Gin Company (MGC) Dry Gin is an unexpected flavour journey that’s full of surprises.
With a basis of crisp rainwater from Gembrook, Marks sets the foundations for this complex drop with juniper and coriander seeds before layering grapefruit peel and rosemary picked straight from his garden.
Other local botanicals include macadamia, honey lemon-myrtle and organic naval orange and each is extracted individually for maximum flavour.
West Winds – The Cutlass
Image courtesy of West Winds. This contemporary gin, born of the new world, is pirate strength liquor – “inspired by seafarers, distilled by craftsman”.
Bolstered by an ABV of 50%, The Cutlass is a slashing Australian gin. Despite its high alcohol percentage, this gin is surprisingly delicate and aromatic. Coriander seed pairs with the robust tang of native Australian bush tomato to create a bold and distinctively dark flavour.
Released in 2011, The Cutlass took down Double Gold in the prestigious San Francisco International Spirits Competition, the first for an Australian gin producer. When West Winds started out in a bar in Balaclava, they set themselves a challenge of creating ‘Damn Fine Gin’. Mission accomplished.
Poor Toms - Sydney Dry Gin
Image courtesy of goodfood.com.au. With one of Australia’s most experienced gin distillers and a German copper still named Jane, what could possibly go wrong?
Poor Toms wasn’t always such a formidable set-up. Founders Jesse Kennedy and Griffin Blumer started out making gin on their kitchen table before scaling the business.
This handcrafted, small batch gin from the Sydney suburb of Merrickville gets its name from a Shakespeare play and takes its flavour profile from the native strawberry-gum leaf, fresh green apple, and chamomile. Serve with strawberry in a G & T.
Forty Spotted – Rare Tasmanian Gin
Image courtesy of Lark Distillery. Made in the traditional style of a London Dry, this refined and elegant gin has a unique Australian twist. The secret ingredient: Tasmanian Mountain Pepper (pepperberry) or Tasmania aromatica. The latin name tells the taste tale, an aromatic and spicy flavour that doesn’t dominate the spirit.
Tasmania is known for it’s rare and wonderful creatures, including the Forty Spotted Pardolet, a unique and enigmatic bird from which the gin takes its name.
Forty Spotted can be mixed or enjoyed straight up on the rocks, with a delightfully aromatic nose and a peppery taste calmed by the softness of rose petals.
Husk Distillers - Ink Gin
Image courtesy of Broadsheet. This is not ordinary gin, this gin is luminescent. Out of the deepest caldera in the Southern Hemisphere, somewhere between the Gondwana Rainforest and the Pacific Ocean, comes this one of a kind gin.
A floral infusion of butterfly pea flowers gives Ink Gin it’s distinctive dark blue/magenta colour which turns pink when mixed. This isn’t just a drink, it’s a statement.
But it’s not all for show. This exotic flower adds astringency to the complex flavour profile, which is made of numerous botanicals, both local and international. Boldness and pungency comes from coriander, cinnamon, cardamom and orris root, sweetness from orange and pepperberries add spice.
This exquisite gin is rounded out with citrus notes from Lemon Myrtle and subtlety of elderflower.
Ironbark Distillery 313 Dry Wattleseed Gin
Image courtesy of Iron Bark. With a name like ‘Ironbark’ you know you’re going to get a distinctly Australian experience. Producing two gins – The 313 Dry and the 313 Dry Wattleseed – Ironbark was awarded Australian Gin Distillery of the Year in 2015, a testament to the philosophy that they hold, which is, “pride, passion and perfection”.
Whilst the 313 Dry outshone the Wattleseed in the 2015 San Franciso World Spirits Competition, winning silver and bronze respectively, it’s the wattleseed that is truly Australian. Combining wattleseed with several other native botanicals, this gin is as Australian as Ned Kelly.
McHenry & Sons - Navy Strength Gin
The Tasmanian’s are masters as producing high-quality artisanal food and beverage. It’s the landscape, the isolation and the unique flora and fauna that gives Tasmania a unique and mystical feel, and it shows through in their products.
McHenry and Son’s Distillery is no exception to the rule, producing some of the finest gin in Australia. This gin is not for the faint-hearted, to carry the Navy Strength label a gin must have an ABV of over 57%, which makes them super punchy. The Gin Queen, Caroline Childerly says, “the higher alcohol strength can be off-putting, particularly to the novice gin-drinker.”
But for the bold and adventurous, this is a true gem. Based on their classic Dry Gin which features coriander, orris root and cardamom, lime is added to boost the citrus and exacerbate the spicier flavours.
McChenry’s dedication to quality has not gone unnoticed with their Navy Strength Gin taking out Gold in the 2015 Australian Distilled Spirit Awards.
Mt. Uncle Distillery - Botanic Australis Gin
Image courtesy of timeforwhiskey.com. Distiller extraordinaire, Mark Watkins, has been distilling spirits since he was 16, when he had a vodka racket in his cubby house. It’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about producing spirits. In what can only be described as a romantic touch, he’s named his trusty still Helga.
Mt Uncle’s Botanic Australis gin may take the cake for the most ‘dinky-di’ Australian gin going around. This extraordinarily complex gin made up of 14 native botanicals took Watkins 2 years to master, gradually balancing each ingredient against the other. The result? A herbaceous, citrus, spice explosion.
Blind Tiger Organic Gin
Image courtesy of organicwine.com.au A ‘Blind Tiger’ was an establishment that sold liquor based cocktails during the 1920s prohibition era, many of which were gin based. What a great name for a gin brand!
This gin is certainly one for the environmentally conscious. Blind Tiger searches the globe for botanicals that are organic and sustainable, each carefully curated and handpicked. Steering away from native botanicals, opting for a more traditional ‘London Dry’ vibe.
Blind Tiger proves that more is not necessarily better, with simplicity at its core. The three botanicals – coriander, angelica root and summer savoury – add to the juniper to create something reminiscent of a ‘fresh spring forest’.
Tasmania Distillery (Sullivan’s Cove) - Hobart #4
Image courtesy of Sullivan’s Cove. Perhaps a distillery better known for its world-beating whiskeys, they also know how to create exceptional gin. Using the same malted barley spirit as in their Award-winning whiskeys, the Hobart #4 exemplifies the fact that the quality of the spirit is just as important as the botanicals used to flavour it.
That’s not to say Sullivan’s Cove doesn’t know their botanicals. On the contrary – lemon myrtle, anise myrtle, lancealota and wattleseed give this gin real backbone and complexity and lengthy mouth feel.
Kangaroo Island Spirits (kis) - O GIn
Src: tripadvisor.com.au. From the South Australian island producer comes this perfectly rounded gin that tastes of the coast.
The common gin botanicals of coriander and angelica root are paired with a highly unique ingredient – Olearia axillaris – or, Kangaroo Island coastal daisy bush as it’s more commonly known.
This coastal shrub, referred to sometimes as ‘wild rosemary’ gives O-Gin it’s distinctive floral, heath-like aroma which is balanced by the earthy juniper notes and orange.
In 2014, Max Allen and Luke Ashton of the Gourmet Traveller voted this as the Best Botanical Gin.
Stone Pine Dry Gin
Stone Pine Dry Gin is a real Australian ‘new world’ gin. A modern take on the London Dry style, it uses a blend of native and traditional botanicals. Lemon Myrtle and Pink Fingerlime drive the strong, zingy citrus flavour.
Pot distilled in small batches it picked up a Silver in the International Wine and Spirit competition in 2013.
Enjoy in a G & T or Negroni!
Hunter Distillery – Copperwave Gin
From the Hunter Valley region of NSW Copperwave is a bold, tenacious gin packing a punch at 45% alcohol content. One sip of this and you’ll feel invigorated to say the least!
It’s not really a traditional London Dry, leaning more toward the aromatic side. The flavours are dark and rich, deriving from botanicals such as aniseed myrtle, cardamom, nutmeg, calamus and sweet flag.
It takes its citrus notes from Australian Lemon myrtle and a combination of citrus peels. A perfect gin for after a hard day at work!
Limeburners - Great Southern Dry Gin
There’s a secret ingredient in this one! In addition to the traditional gin botanicals such as oris, cinnamon, anise and cardamom, this Western Australian gin uses a hyper-local ingredient native the South West Coast region. Meen, or bloodroot as it’s sometimes referred to, adds a unique peppery taste to the gin.
Clearly passionate about what they do, the team also runs tours and gin masterclasses, held at the distillery.
6. The Best Australian Gin Bars
Cocktails and cocktail bars are popular these days. Very popular. There was a time in Australia when cocktails were a super-special occasion drink, available only at exclusive bars, hotels and high-end restaurants. But things have changed and you’ll more than likely find gin-based cocktails wherever you do now.
That being said, there are certain cocktail bars that do one thing well: gin. They pride themselves on the quality of gin they use, and many a strong supporters of Australian small-batch gins. Below you’ll find heaps of great places all over Australia to go for a next-level gin cocktail.
In the 19th century a ‘gin palace’ was known as a socially undesirable drinking house. Now, the ‘Gin Palace’ bar in Melbourne is one of the city’s most desirable bars. They offer a huge range of domestic and imported gins and boast expert bartenders to help you find your gin of choice.
If you can find The Everleigh, hidden up a staircase of Gertrude St. Fitzroy, you’re in for a treat. The classic feel of their decor, including luxurious leather booths, is matched by equally classic cocktails.
The decadent bar takes inspiration from its name, 1806, which was the first year the cocktail was defined in print. Naturally, they’re cocktail (and gin) experts. You can even travel through time as each cocktail represents a particular decade from the 1600s onwards.
This laneway bar creates amazing cocktails that look cool with hand cut ice and taste delicious with a wide choice of aromatic bitters and gin. Its art déco-style and traditional cocktails are enjoyed by both the after-work and weekend crowds. Every month, Lily Blacks host the Iron Bartender – a competition between local bartenders to determine who can make the best cocktail using a mystery ingredient.
Enter the Berlin Bar on one side and you enter East Germany and enter on the other side of the bar and you enter West Germany; truly a unique Berlin experience that encapsulates post-modern Germany. You can enjoy a Luftwaffe sour which uses Tanqueray – one of the world’s finest gins.
It’s a gin cocktail bar located within InterContinental Sydney where you can choose from over 60 different gins which have come from all over Australia and the world. If you appreciate a sophisticated atmosphere to compliment your gin, this is the bar for you.
The Barber Shop
During the day The Barber Shop is a humble (and literal) barber shop and by night it transforms itself into a vintage style gin cocktail bar. Your gin comes in unique ways too – not only is it on tap, it’s served to you in a goblet.
Little Fish Bar
The Little Fish Bar uses their wide selection of gins to add their own syrups and create new cocktail blends based on the classics, all using seasonal ingredients. Along with their unique cocktails, you can enjoy a beautiful view over the Balmain shoreline.
The Rook is a rooftop bar filled with dancing lights, a graffiti wall, dining space and a cocktail bar. The bar features 65 different gins, including Monkey 47, Peruvian Dry Gin and Columbian rum barrel-aged gin.
The Powder Keg
The Powder Keg is a modern take on the traditional gin palaces of time gone by. Not only does it have 120 different gins to choose from, you can even get gin on tap. Alongside the wide array of drinks are equally fancy meals inspired by the 16th and 17th century.
Thrift Shop Bar
Thrift Shop avoids commercialism as much as possible, preferring to support Australian small businesses. Naturally this vintage, up-cycled bar serves 100% Australian gin.
The Howling owl
Try gins local to S.A. (including the Barossa Valley!) and from around the globe at The Howling Owl. You can celebrate World Gin Day by making your own gin. Join their Bootlegging Gin Master Class with Jon Lark from Kangaroo Island’s KIS Gin Distillery.
“When a customer comes up to the bar, we go through the pairings, explaining where it was produced and the different botanicals used and why it has been paired with a particular tonic and garnish,” explains Rogosic – the brainchild of this project. The dedicated bar within the hotel serves boutique gins from the local Adelaide Hills and international distillers.
Gin inspired the term ‘Dutch Courage’… so it’s fitting that this Brisbane bar serves over 100 different gins. If that’s too much choice or courage for you, you can go with their cocktail of the month.
Their name comes from ‘Bar Of Social Conscience’ and sees them donate a percentage of their profits to an orphanage in Mexico. Although they could’ve named themselves ‘BOAG’ for ‘Bar Of Awesome Gin,’ with their wide range of boutique gins and long cocktail list.
It’s a sophisticated bar with gourmet food, an extensive drinks menu and classic movies projected on the walls. You can choose from 13 different gins, or if you’re after something unique try their punny cocktail – Ginception.
Nestled within the growing Woolloongabba ‘foody’ precinct, Canvas offers great food and drinks from morning to night (yes – you can enjoy a bloody mary or fresh cocktail with brunch). One such gin cocktail, ‘The Great Escape’, combines gin, mint, elderflower, grape and apple juice to take you far away from your stresses.
Frisk Small Bar
“We like gin” is the Frisk motto, which is simple and sharp like the gin they serve. They describe themselves as “a delightful small bar filled to the brim with glorious gin.” That delightfulness is exemplified by their grass-covered bookshelves and dangling guitar.
Enrique’s School For To Bullfighting
This specialty gin bar lets you create your bespoke ‘gintonic’; choose your gin, add a tonic and complement it with a garnish. Alternatively, you can choose from one of Enrique’s cocktail suggestions – which he’s tested thoroughly for you.
Specialising in both rum and gin you are spoilt for choice at Ezra Pound. It’s fun and unpretentious vibe is helping establish the small bar movement in Perth.
Society Salamanca is a boutique Tasmanian bar that focuses on craft Tasmanian and Australian food and liquor – especially gin.
With excellent food at the restaurant and a plentiful choice of gin at the bar, Geronimo’s attracts a wide range of people and has become a favourite among locals and tourists. There are also some adventurous dishes like ox tongue if you’re feeling brave.
7. Gin and 'The Cocktail Revolution'
Gin is one of the most popular ingredients in modern day cocktails. It’s in everything from the ubiquitous Gin and Tonic to the classic Martini, popularized by James Bond.
In fact, gin is in more classic cocktails than any other spirit.
Some of the popular gin cocktails include the:
• Ramos Gin Fizz
• Gin Rickey
• Tom Collins
• White Lady
• Singapore Sling
Gin cocktails have a long and illustrious history, dating back to the 1700s. As covered earlier, the Gimlet was actually created to prevent medical ailments!
Gin cocktails have evolved a lot in the past few years, with new and exciting recipes developed by bartenders across the world to highlight a new generation of gins.
As part of a cocktail renaissance, there has been a movement to more floral, botanic-rich gins, which lend themselves to light, refreshing cocktails allowing for the subtleties of the gin to shine through. Bars used to just stock the usual English suspects, but Australian small-batch gins are now a mainstay at any cocktail bar worth its weight. Navy Strength gin is particularly popular due to its high alcohol content and ability to stand out in robust cocktails.
There are literally thousands of gin cocktail recipes out there. When you’re making cocktails at home, try swapping out your typical Beefeater or Tanqueray for a locally produced Australian gin.
Did you know?
The term ‘Dutch Courage’ was coined from Dutch troops drinking Gin (or Jenever as it was known then) during the 30 years war
Here are 4 great modern gin cocktail recipes to get you started:
Blood Orange Elderflower Gin Cocktail
Check out this beautiful little number from The Little Epicurian which combines St. Germain (Elderflower liqueur) with ginger ale and blood orange juice
Earl Grey Gin Cocktail
Check out this Lady Jane from One Martini that combines the flavours of earl grey tea, lavender, and lemon
Hibiscus Gin Sour
Sugar and Charm has you covered with this Hibiscus Gin Sour which is a vibrant pink colour, utilising Chambord and egg whites
Green Eyes Gin Cocktail
This beauty combines gin with green Chartreuse and lime to create a refreshing, green concoction (from Imbibe)
8. The Humble Gin & Tonic
The Gin and Tonic is so ubiquitous, so universally popular, that it deserves it’s own section. The G & T, as it’s affectionately known, has had a long and rich history steeped in intrigue and mystery. This is a drink that has stood the test of time, a pairing of tastes that is simply a match made in heaven. Just as honey is to lemon, and lamb is to rosemary,gin is to tonic. It’s just meant to be.
Having good quality Australian Gin is just half of a great Gin & Tonic. Of course you need a quality tonic water to accompany it. Try the Hepburn Springs Organic Tonic made from natural spring water and quinine extracted from cinchona bark.
Apart from the quality of the ingredients, there’s really not that much to making an awesome G & T. Erin from Platings and Pairings has got your back with some tips on how to perfect the humble Gin and Tonic.
And take your Gin and Tonic to the next level with these suggestions from Gizmodo.
Of course, there’s plenty of room to move with a Gin and Tonic, so you don’t have to stick to the classic.
For a start, try changing up the garnish you use. The Gin Queen (she knows her stuff!) suggests these 12 Gin And Tonic Garnishes to mix things up, and even which gins to pair them with.
Or go in a different direction altogether with the addition of some new ingredients.
Some delicious variations of the original include:
• Cranberry and Thyme
• Cucumber and Rosemary
• Blood Orange
• Raspberry and Rose
• Blackberry and Lemon
9. Australian Gin Resources
This guide merely touches the surface of the gin world!
If you’re looking to broaden your knowledge of gin further, here are some great blogs, websites and resources to get you started.
The Gin Queen – www.theginqueen.com
Caroline Childrely AKA ‘The Gin Queen’ is “3 parts woman, 1 part gin.” Her Melbourne-based blog is an absolute trove of information on gin. In depth articles on Australian and international gins, cocktail recipes, reviews, bars…you name it, The Gin Queen has covered it. Well worth a visit if you’re into your gins.
Cocktails and Bars – www.cocktailsandbars.com
A go-to spot for all things bars, spirits and cocktails. Heaps of cool stuff on here about gin and just about every other spirit under the sun. By Corinne Massati who was named in the Australian Bartender Most Influential List and is a member of The World’s 50 Best Bars Academy who judges the World’s 50 Best Bars.
The Ginstress – theginstress.com
Heaps of good stuff from Australian gin lover, Elly. Great gin reviews and a super-helpful gin guide are some of the best bits.
The Gin Is In – www.theginisin.com
This NYC blog run by Aaaron Knoll covers all things gin. Gin reviews, tonic reviews, cocktail recipes and gin news, it’s a must read for gin lovers.
Gastronomista – www.gastronomista.com
Not specifically gin related, but heaps of great articles on ‘the culture of drink’. Run by Emily Wells (epic imbiber and Bom Vivant!) it also has cocktail recipes and stacks more. Well worth a read.
Sipsmith – www.sipsmith.com
London Based independent spirits products. Not Australian, but their blog is well worth a visit. Great articles, recipes and instructionals, and the design is stunning.
Down Gin Lane – www.downginlane.com.au
Awesome subscription-based gin club. Sign up and receive a curated selection of craft gins, direct to your door. Win!
The Martini Whisperer – www.martiniwhisperer.com
Phillip knows his martinis, I mean he’s given a TED talk on them! Great site with heaps of relevant information about craft spirits, bars, events and cocktail culture. A must read.
The Humble Tumbler – www.thehumbletumbler.com.au
Pretty cool Melbourne based mob that does wicked adventurous eating and drinking masterclasses that are the “gastronomic equivalent of a one night stand”. They’ve also got a book called Tipsy that you should definitely read!
Did you know?
The most expensive bottle of Gin is The Watenashi created by Cambridge Distillery’s Will Lowe. Only 6 bottles were distilled, each with a price tag of £2,000 UK pounds
Want more interesting gin facts? Here’s 50 from the Sipsmith Crew
Read the article in full here on
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Gin Guild. Any examples of analysis recited within this article are only examples. They should not be utilised in real-world analytic products as they are based only on very limited information. Assumptions made within any analysis are not reflective of the position of the Gin Guild.