7 American Gins You’ve Got to Try

Gin presents distillers with a relatively broad canvas to work with; in the U.S., it is defined only as a spirit no less than 80 proof produced by distilling or mixing with juniper berries.

It’s no surprise then, that with its reputation for innovation, the Bay Area is a significant contributor to the profusion of craft-distilled regional brands that are helping to drive the gin class.

Medium Brush Stroke

Here’s a sampling of Bay Area gin’s best-known pours and best-kept secrets, all a far cry from your grandpa’s Gordon’s. Looking for barrel aged and sloe gins? You’ll find those, too.

1. Junipero

Call it the original. Now in its 25th year on the market, Junipero distilled and bottled on the San Francisco waterfront lays claim to being the first American-made craft gin after Prohibition.

Packing a juniper-forward wallop burnished with citrus oils, this 98.6 proof doozy is ideal for martinis, gin rickeys and other old school cocktails.

2. No. 209

Master distiller Arne Hillesland has expanded upon the eminently quaffable citrus and cardamom-accented original No. 209 Gin with a trio of tributes to Northern California’s winemaking heritage.

While its original gin starts with a corn base, No. 209 also offers a unique Kosher-for-Passover gin, distilled from sugar cane: Toast “L’chaim!” with this Jewniper spirit.

3. St. George

Located in a former airplane hangar in the East Bay city of Alameda, the St. George Distillery is determinedly focused on distinctive craftsmanship more than marketing campaigns.

St. George Botanivore Gin is light and lively on the palate with a fresh, savory-leaning balance that introduces black peppercorn, caraway, cilantro and dill seed to more typical gin.


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