gin challenge part one

Originally published Oct 20, 2014

Gin is a required ingredient with most of these classic cocktails. So it should not be surprising that Gin is being constantly rotated in my bar. Even better for me is that the general public hates Gin, the lack of demand produces great product for less than $30. With that said, the popularity explosion with craft cocktails has been both great and terrible because it means that quality cocktails are definitely more accessible than it was five to ten years ago. However the new found popularity has produced a slightly more expensive tier for Gin touting 'ultra premium' attributes. Top shelf Gin is creeping up towards the $40 mark but do the extra 'artisan' qualities of gin matter with these classic cocktails?

A voice has been running in my head about this theory regarding Gin for quite some time, here is how the test happened:

  • 1.5 ounce of Gin
  • 1 ounce of St Germain Elderflower liquor
  • 3 ounce of tonic water
  • 2-3 dashes of optional Acid Phosphate

This bottle of St Germain was sitting unopened on my shelve for over a year. Limes and lemons were missing from my fridge. One could argue that this test is already weird and that some key ingredients were missing or you can call me a creative thinker. Shaking and straining multiple versions of a drink was something off the table the previous night, so call me lazy. 

The Gins in this challenging round were:

  • Beefeater Gin 
    • Yes the cheap gin that even Jewel sells
    • For this cocktail, add the optional Acid Phosphate to make up for the lack of citrus
  • CH Distillery Key Lime Gin
    • Local to Chicago, somewhat common and can be found at Whole Foods
    • Upper tier price point for Gin, over $30
    • For this cocktail, omit the Acid Phosphate. 
  • Green Hat Gin
    • Not available in Chicago to my knowledge but is a East Coast thing
    • You will need to hunt for good prices but it should cost you $35
    • Keep the Acid Phosphate in the cocktail for this round

A couple months back, we tasted these spirits straight. No one liked the cheap Beefeater or the CH Distillery but enjoyed all of the premium gins. Keep that in mind as we get to the results. 

In regards to the cocktail above, here are the results:

3. Green Hat Gin. With this cocktail, the after taste was just over powering. It doesn't work unless you enjoy gin. 

2. CH Distillery Key Lime Gin. Surprisingly the bottle that I am known for hating came ahead of Green Hat. 

1. Beefeater Gin. It actually is a two way tie for first place. Beefeater with Acid Phosphate tasted identical to CH Distillery to this amateur taster. 

For my cheap friends, pick up that Beefeater. You won't find a better product for the money. 

For my hipster friends, stop talking trash about Beefeater. Even the International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC) has been giving awards to the Chivas Brothers for their Beefeater Gin. 

For my curious friends, before you splurge for that high end Gin do a little research for what drinks make the bottle shine. You may be picking up a bottle that specializes in some areas. 

Just promise that you won't do shots of Beefeater.