“I’ll have something without gin or whiskey in it.”
I can’t even begin to count the number of times I used to hear this when mixing up drinks for friends. So what did I do? I made them a drink with gin or whiskey.
“Oh, that’s really tasty, what’s in it?”
Needless to say, I’ve been pretty successful at converting gin-haters and rum-disdainers. So much so that bottles of each seem to keep showing up at my house. There are many other reasons faults of judgment people give for not liking a certain spirit.
Annoyance #1 – “I got really sick off that once and can’t drink it anymore.”
I surely believe the first part. But you likely got sick from drinking too muchtequila, not because of what you were drinking. And if the mere smell of the spirit brings back horror movie-like memories of time spent over the bowl of eternity, you have hope. Try it again in cocktail that features it lightly. Just take a sip or two. Repeat, and build from there. Though if for some reason you’re allergic to say, rum, then don’t do this. But God, I can’t even imagine how terrible an affliction that would be.
Annoyance #2 – “That’s for old people/hicks/hayseeds/your mom.”
If you think gin is something only your grandparents drank when the economy was strong and horses pulled buggies around town like a quaint movie, that’s ok. If you don’t want to be as cool as James Bond, Alfred Hitchcock, and Julia Child who all loved the stuff, then so be it. You can be lame.
Annoyance #3 – “I don’t want to taste the alcohol.”
Then don’t come to my party.
How to Get People to Like Gin
First off, I’m in no way suggesting you pour drinks for your friends that they won’t like. There are a ton of recipes featuring various spirits that can be a good (re)introduction for the wary tippler.
“It tastes like pine trees.”
Before you roll your eyes, consider the major flavoring component of gin: juniper berries. They come from coniferous juniper trees and shrubs, which have needles. Just like your Christmas tree. The name gin even comes from the Dutch word for juniper: genever. But juniper isn’t only used to flavor gin; it’s also commonly used when curing pancetta and goes delightfully with venison and quail. Why do I point this out?
Because juniper is intense. Find some at your local spice store and open up the package; I guarantee your first thought will be “That smells like gin!”
So for the guest who doesn’t like gin, you’re going to have to temper that piercing aroma with other aromatically strong ingredients. Bitters of all sorts work here as do floral liqueurs.
The flavor of gin is not timid either, so cut it with some sweetness and definitely get it ice-cold. Here are a few suggestions for starter cocktails:
Gin Cocktails That Everyone Will Like
Pendennis (pictured above)
- 2oz gin
- 1oz apricot brandy
- 3/4oz lime juice
- 3 dashes Peychaud bitters
Shake with cracked ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
This is my go to cocktail when I’m in the mixology doldrums. It’s one of those where all the ingredients blend together to form something new, like a good tiki drink. You don’t necessarily pick out the gin, apricot, or lime, which for a gin-hater is a good thing.
50 / 50 Blanc Martini
- 1 1/2oz gin
- 1 1/2oz blanc vermouth
- 1 dash Angostura orange bitters (or other orange bitters)
- lemon twist, for garnish
Stir with crushed ice for at least 30 seconds and double-strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Expunge the oils from the lemon peel onto the surface of the drink and rub the skin on the rim of the glass.
Ok, now I want a 50/50 martini. Most people who don’t like martinis dislike them because they don’t like quaffing glasses of cold gin. History has given us the ultra-mega-hypo-arch-dyno dry martini where vermouth can’t even be in the same state as the drink being made. But if you take a wonderfully sweet vermouth, like the blanc, and use a healthy dose of it, you’ll have a cocktail that should please anyone. The orange bitters and lemon twist also help beat the gin into submission.
- 2oz gin
- 1/2oz crème de mure or Chambord
- 1oz lemon juice
- 2t simple syrup
- lemon slice and two raspberries, for garnish
Build over crushed ice in an old fashioned glass. Stir and crown with the crème de mure.
Greg Boehm of Mud Puddle Books suggested this as a potion to lure even the most frightened soul to the wiles of gin. The sweet and tart fruit puts a meshed mask on the gin, so only a bit of it comes through with each sip.
- 2oz gin
- 1oz lime juice
- 1oz simple syrup
- 1 large mint sprig, leaves only
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
If anyone knows about making gin drinks that taste like they don’t have gin in them, it’s Jeff. Ok ok… I’m jesting. But this potion is a great example of a nice introduction to our junipery enemy. A perfect balance of flavor with the punchy aroma of mint to put the gin into a deep slumber.
- 1 1/2oz gin
- 1/2oz cherry brandy
- 1/2oz creme de cassis
- 1/4oz sloe gin
- 1/2oz lime juice
- 1/2oz lemon juice
- 1t grenadine
- club soda, to top
Shake all but the soda with ice and strain into an ice-filled collins glass. Top with club soda and garnish in some ridiculous fashion. Maybe with a lego sculpture or a large piece of cinnamon raisin bread.
Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide
An excellent punch that will surely please anyone at any time. The liqueurs do a phenomenal job of molding the gin into a paradise of flavor. You practically can’t taste the gin in this with all those liqueurs dancing around like crazy fairies in your drink.
Here is the part where I get in trouble recommending brands. These suggestions are based on both quality and, more importantly, how a gin-fearing overlord would like them. Many of these hold prominent posts in my liquor cabinet as well.
- Hayman’s Old Tom
- Citadelle Reserve
- Bombay Sapphire
Part II – Whiskey
I quickly realized when writing this post that there was no way I could cover every spirit, so consider this Part I of my series: The Slippery Drink.
- What drinks have you slipped to your friends to get them to like something they think they don’t?
- What other gins are good starter gins?