Gin is a type of booze that’s often used in cocktails. However, with its lovely taste can’t you just drink gin straight as well?
Yes, you can drink gin straight without a problem. If straight gin is your drink of preference, then there’s nothing wrong with that. Just make sure you drink a quality gin, preferably over ice with a wedge of lime or lemon.
Drinking gin neat is something that isn’t too common, though. But why is that the case when it’s so nice to drink on its own?
The Taste Of Gin And Why Its Great When Drunk Straight
Gin is a simple grain spirit, infused by many different botanicals. The most common botanical is the juniper berry. In fact, the U.S. government classifies gin as a spirit mixed with juniper berry and other botanicals, making juniper berry a mandatory part in gin.
Juniper berry on its own can give off a pine-like taste with an herbaceous and green undertone. This is a crisp and refreshing taste that’s already fantastic on its own and doesn’t necessarily need other botanicals to make it great.
However, with the addition of more botanicals, you can truly play with the taste. Every added ingredient will influence the taste in a certain type of way, making it crisper, less crisp, richer, warmer, or colder.
To the general public, though, most gins will taste pretty similar. You’ll have a fresh, slightly bitter and pine-like scent that’s extremely refreshing and crisp. This makes gin perfect for the warmer months where it’s perfect for when you need to cool down.
Fun fact: Contrary to popular belief, gin actually originated in the Netherlands. The Dutch had a wine-based spirit called genever (jenever). Genever was also infused with juniper berries and was a very popular drink. As the UK started to get their hands on this drink, they left out the wine base, leaving you with the juniper infused gin we know today.
How To Best Serve Gin Straight
Serving a straight glass of gin is rather easy. First, take your favorite gin glass and fill it with ice. Ice is of course optional, but the cold feel does increase the crisp and fresh flavor of gin.
After that, pour the desired amount of gin in the glass and serve it with a wedge of lime. Then you want to give it a nice stir (wonder why you should stir gin instead of shaking? We wrote an article all about that!) And there you go, a straight glass of gin!
You can also spruce it up a little by swapping the lime for a slice of cucumber or any other fresh fruit or vegetable you like. Gin is all about freshness and almost any fragrant or refreshing fruit or vegetable will work nicely. Try experimenting with a few different ones and see which one you like best!
Why Gin Isn’t Drunk Straight That Often
When you think of drinking a certain spirit straight, you’ll usually think of whiskey or maybe rum or vodka. Gin doesn’t really come to mind when you talk about drinking spirits straight.
In fact, most people will actually put gin at the bottom of their list when talking about drinking spirits straight. It’s a shame, as gin does have a wonderful taste in and of itself.
Gin is also not the first choice when it comes to shots either. When you want a shot of something, you’ll usually grab the tequila or rum before you reach for a bottle of gin (read our post on the taste difference between gin and tequila). You can, however, take gin shots perfectly fine. We wrote a whole article about taking gin shots, which you can find over here!
There are actually a few reasons why gin isn’t the first choice for straight spirits. Firstly, gin can taste very bad or bland. This doesn’t go for every gin, but it does describe a poor quality gin.
Gin is a rather simple drink. It’s a neutral grain spirit, just like most other spirits. The difference between gin and the others is that it’s infused with botanicals. These can range from elderflower to cinnamon, to anise, to orange peel. However, the most popular botanic to infuse gin with is juniper berry.
Juniper berry can be great, but a poor quality juniper berry can cause a bland taste that will paint the wrong picture of gin. A little below we’ll go more in-depth into the differences between high-quality gin and poor quality gin. Just know that a bad first impression can cause a different, unjustified view.
Furthermore, gin is also a drink that’s often linked to cocktails. Drinking something that can be mistaken for a ‘cocktail only’ spirit might deter people away as well. Again, we’ll go more in-depth into the matter a little later.
The Difference Between Poor Quality And High Quality Gin
Unlike most other drinks, there’s a clear difference between high quality and poor quality gin. Of course, an expert will always be able to tell the difference between good and bad quality, but it seems painfully obvious with gin.
The botanicals used in poor quality gin are usually low quality as well. This makes for a much more bitter taste, something you do not want in your gin.
Above we described the taste of good quality gin, but the main differences are in the actual flavor of the botanicals and the crispness. These two important factors sadly lack in poor quality gin.
Poor quality gin, however, isn’t all that bad when you mix it with something. It’s actually quite tolerable then. However, the bland taste on its own does cause a lot of people to dislike drinking gin straight (or worst case, cause them to dislike gin in general).
How Gins Popularity Caused Its Downfall
Gin has always been a popular drink and was quickly adopted as the perfect base for cocktails. The classic martini and gin tonic are but two of the many famous gin-based drinks.
Due to the popular use of gin in cocktails, it’s often seen as a ‘cocktail only’ drink, or, in some cases, to be more feminine. Of course, this isn’t necessarily true, but it does deter people away from a wonderful crisp drink.
The use of gin in many different cocktails and its association to cocktail, paired with the distinct difference between good and poor quality gin does cause many people to not drink gin neat.
Drinking gin straight is something that, sadly, isn’t done often. It’s a shame, as gin is such a refreshing spirit with a wonderful taste. It goes great with those warm days and doesn’t always need accompanying ingredients to be great.
It’s time to change the stigma that gin is only for cocktails, as it’s most certainly not! Why not pour yourself a cold gin over ice, garnished with a wedge of lime and experience for yourself how amazing it actually is!