Love gin? You’ll want to take these for a spin

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Orris root; winter savory; coriander seed; juniper; orange peel; elderflower; angelica. Quick: What comes to mind when you read those words? If your response is “gin,” you win.

Gin is a thing of beauty, and it’s one of my favorite distilled spirits. It is a cherished and vital component of many cocktails I order or make on a regular basis, and its diversity excites me and pleases my palate.



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The universe of gin is — and has been — expanding; it is no longer “what your grandparents drink” … though they probably still do partake of it.


What’s changed is that hipsters and moms and dads and “average” Americans have discovered the charms of gin, and more and more of the distilled spirit is making its way into American homes. According to Allied Market Research, the global market for gin was valued at $14.03 billion in 2020, a market that is predicted to reach $20.17 billion by 2028. That’s a lot of gin.


With that abundance comes, of course, the opportunity for confusion to enter the equation. You pace up and down the gin aisle at your favorite spirits merchant and are both enchanted and befuddled at the seemingly infinite selections of bottles on display. What does it all mean? “I simply want to make a good gin and tonic,” you mutter to yourself.


Save the stress, I advise, and it’s easy to do so, at least when it comes to selecting gin. Here’s my angst-free system: Buy a bottle a month, gins made in diverse countries, states, and regions, and explore.


To start you off, here are a few selections I’ve sampled recently, and they’d all be worthy of a place in your bar.

A gin brand born on a fruit farm

6 o'clock gin

6 O’clock Gin hails from Bristol, England, and traces it origins to the fruit farm belonging to Edward and Penny Kain. About 30 years ago, the couple began experimenting with their produce, and made some great fruit liqueurs, which sold well. The brand has grown since then, and is now available in many markets in the United States, among other countries.


We’ll start with 6 O’clock’s Sloe Gin, which I used to make, yes, a Sloe Gin Fizz. For those of you who don’t know what sloes are, they are small berries (Prunus spinosa) that are in the same family as plums and cherries. They are native to Europe, and when eaten alone impart a sharp, mostly unpleasant taste.


But take the berries and steep them in gin for six months, as 6 O’clock does, and you have a lovely concoction that’s lower in alcohol than unflavored gins — 26 percent ABV compared to the 43 percent in 6 O’Clock’s London Dry Gin — and tart and sweet in a wonderful way. The berries impart a lovely plum-red color to the gin, and, yes, it’s perfect for a Sloe Gin Fizz, among many other cocktails. I found this gin for sale at Binny’s for $36.99.


6 O’clock also makes a Damson Gin, using Damson plums (or Damsons, as they are called in England), which, like the sloe, are too tart for most palates to be consumed raw. But let them mingle with gin for a while and the outcome is delicious: spicy, warm, and that great sweet and tart combination. Drink this with tonic, add it to ginger beer, or use it as a cocktail base. ($36.99 at Binny’s)


If you want a tried-and-true London Dry Gin, try 6 O’clock’s version, which hews to the juniper-dominant standard known and loved the world over. I used it to make a Negroni — one of my favorite cocktails — and was more than pleased. ($36.99 at Binny’s)


Finally, and if you are looking for something a little out of the ordinary, try 6 O’clock’s Brunel, a London Dry gin inspired by the mind and creations of engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It clocks in at 50 percent ABV, and is made with an extra dosage of juniper, plus green cardamom, nutmeg, cumin, cassia bark, cubeb pepper, and lemon. Mix it with tonic water and a slice of lemon, over ice, or try it in a French 75. It’s available for around $40.

From the Golden State, a balanced gin full of flavor

We’ll go to California now, for D. George Benham’s Sonoma Dry Gin ($37 at Total Wine). It’s 45 percent alcohol by volume, and is aromatized with juniper, Meyer lemon, peppermint, coriander, star anise, cardamom, Buddha’s hand, angelica, grains of paradise, galangal, chamomile, and orris root. Yes, that’s 12 aromatics, but the resultant gin is deftly balanced and makes a great Gin & Tonic.

A bottle created with gunpowder tea

Drumshanbo gin

Our final gin comes from Drumshanbo, Ireland, a small town located in County Leitrim. Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin, whose maker describes it as created from “Oriental botanicals, gunpowder tea, and Irish curiosity,” was the base of a cocktail I made recently called The Davy Mac. I found the recipe on the Drumshanbo site, and if you like elderflower, go for this one. It’s made of 40ml of gin and 140ml of elderflower tonic, and is garnished with grapefruit and raspberries.

Here’s what’s in this gin, and it’s a fascinating amalgam: juniper berries, angelica root, orris root, caraway seed, coriander seed, meadowsweet (mead wort), cardamom, star anise, Chinese lemon, oriental grapefruit, kaffir lime, and gunpowder tea. I love to sip this gin — a 1-ounce pour goes a long and pleasurable way — and when I mix it with the elderflower tonic … well, I have a cocktail worthy of a most perfect day.


Bernard Mandeville, an Anglo-Dutch philosopher, satirist, and political economist (1670-1733), wrote a something on gin that I urge you to read; it’s a brief and concise piece that should amuse while you enjoy your afternoon cocktail. I’ll leave you with an excerpt from his words:


“Nothing is more destructive, either in regard to the health, or the vigilance and industry of the poor, than the infamous liquor, the name of which, derived from Juniper in Dutch, is now by frequent use and the laconic spirit of the nation, from a word of middling length shrunk into a monosyllable, intoxicating gin, that charms the inactive, the desperate and crazy of either sex, and makes the starving sot behold his rags and nakedness with stupid indolence, or banter both in senseless laughter, and more insipid jests; it is a fiery lake that sets the brain in flame, burns up the entrails, and scorches every part within; and at the same time a Lethe of oblivion, in which the wretch immersed drowns his most pinching cares, and, with his reason, all anxious reflection on brats that cry for food, hard winter’s frosts, and horrid empty home.”


This article originally appeared on Mise en Place and was syndicated by

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Cozy cocktails to keep you warm all winter long


With the colder weather comes warmer drinks. Fall and winter signal more indoor activities, cozy nights under blankets, and hopefully some quality time with family and friends. To give a warm twist to our drink menus this season, I thought it would be nice to share some recipes for hot alcoholic drinks and hot cocktails so that you can still have your drink and be warm and festive!


bhofack2 / iStock



I made mulled wine a bunch last year and fully intend to make it again this holiday season. It’s one of my favorite hot cocktails in existence. I used the recipe from the Food Network. I played around with how much apple cider we used, and from what I remember even just using two cups still worked.


  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 3 star anise
  • 4 oranges, peeled, for garnish

Instructions: Pour the cider, wine, honey, cinnamon sticks, zest, juice, cloves, and star anise in a large saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Pour into mugs, add an orange peel to each and serve while hot.


ChamilleWhite / iStock


I’m not a whiskey person, but I do like some whiskey-based hot cocktails. I think they’re especially fun around the holidays or when it’s colder out. I enjoy the warm fuzzy feeling it brings you.

This hot toddy recipe by Cookie and Kate is pretty simple and is for individual servings. You can expand by simply multiplying by the number of people you want to make it for!


  • ¾ cup of water
  • 1 ½ ounces whiskey
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons honey, to taste
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • 1 lemon round
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional, for garnish)

Instructions: In a teapot or saucepan, bring the water to a simmer. Pour the hot water into a mug. Add the whiskey, 2 teaspoons honey, and 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Stir until the honey has disappeared into the hot water. Taste, and add 1 teaspoon honey for more sweetness, and/or 1 teaspoon more lemon juice for more zing. Garnish with a lemon round and cinnamon stick (if using). Enjoy!

Alternative: Hot Gin Toddy

Another version of this is a hot gin toddy, for all my gin lovers out there (I’m in the same boat). I liked this recipe from Kitchen Stories because it has a spice to it, in addition, to be refreshingly hot and delicious.


Servings: 2

  • 1tbsp fennel seed
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup of water (1/2 for sugar syrup; 1/2 boil separately)
  • 50mL Gin (about 1.5 shots)
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 lemon

First make the spiced sugar syrup: Add fennel seeds, black pepper, and cardamom to a saucepan over medium heat. Toast for approx. 30 sec. to release the aroma. Add sugar and 1/2 cup water to the saucepan. Increase heat and bring to a boil, then lower heat and let cook for 5 min.

Next, build your toddy! Divide gin and other 1/2 cup of hot water into two cups, add a tablespoon of spiced sugar syrup to each and a generous amount of lemon juice, to taste. Serve with a lemon twist. Enjoy!


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Nothing says Christmas or the holidays like hot apple cider. A twist on your family’s favorite is a spiked version of this! This recipe is from Vindulge.


  • 4 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 8 ounces Bourbon, recommend Bulleit or Basil Hayden’s
  • 4 slices navel orange, for garnish
  • Optional sugar, to rim the glass

Instructions: Place the apple cider, cinnamon stick, orange juice, cloves, and star anise in a small pot and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and strain into a pitcher. If you’d like, you can rim the glass with sugar. In the glass, add 2 oz bourbon and 1 cup of the cider mix.

Garnish with an orange slice and stick of cinnamon and serve warm.

Alternative: Hot Buttered Rum

Another version of this is called the Hot Buttered Rum. I’m personally not a rum drinker, but for anyone who prefers it, check it out:


  • 2 oz dark rum
  • 1 Lemon slice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 clove
  • apple cider, warmed

Instructions: Pour rum over lemon and spices, then top up with warm apple cider. Can garnish with nutmeg


Almaje / istockphoto


Tea is not something you’d expect to end up on a list of hot cocktails, but let me tell you, it’s possible. One Christmas my mom had a bit of sore throat and my Uncle made her some spiked Tea. Worked like a charm.


  • I cup of boiling water
  • Black tea bags (can try earl gray tea, or English breakfast to start)
  • Brandy

To make the tea, place the tea bag of choice into a mug and pour boiling water over it. Let steep for a few minutes. If you’d like, you can add a spoon of sugar as well for taste. Remove the teabag and add a splash of brandy.

Serve and drink warm.


Viktor_Gladkov / istockphoto



For your next brunch drink this winter, consider an Irish coffee! This recipe is from a hot cocktails recipe book that I own.

  • 1 oz. Baileys Irish cream
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • Hot black coffee
  • 1 oz fresh whipped cream

Instructions: In your Irish coffee glass, stir sugar into baileys first then top with hot coffee. Add whipped cream as desired.


theburnsphoto / iStock


You can’t talk about hot winter drinks and hot cocktail recipes without mentioning hot chocolate. This one I’ve used is from Damn Delicious…and it’s pretty delicious.


  • 2 cups of milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 ounce Kahlúa coffee liqueur
  • Mini marshmallows, for serving
  • Salted caramel, for serving
  • Chocolate syrup, for serving

Instructions: In a saucepan, combine milk, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg over medium heat until heated through, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Kahlúa.

Serve immediately, garnished with mini marshmallows, salted caramel, and chocolate syrup, if desired.


bhofack2 / istockphoto


Hopefully, these easy hot cocktails keep you warm and fuzzy this holiday and winter season. For me, there’s a lot of fun and stress relief associated with making and drinking these. It’s also a great thing to do by yourself, with friends, or as a fun date idea where you can figure out which ones are your favorites!

Happy drinking (and experimenting)!


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With winter fast approaching, it’s time to put away the crisp, refreshing cocktails you’ve been turning to and crack open some brown booze!


Try these rye cocktails just made for cooler weather


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Featured Image Credit: JohannesBluemel Photography / iStock.