What comes to mind when you think of gin? Imagine yourself sitting in an East Village bar drinking martinis with Winston Churchill on one of his diplomatic visits, arguing over the amount of vermouth to add, or having Ernest Hemingway break down the beautiful Spanish style in which to present a gin and tonic. You could all give Bond, James Bond, a hard time for ordering his vespers shaken, not stirred. Sorry James, you have a lot of skills but drink preparation isn’t one of them. You are ordering a watered down version of something that could be delicious. Phyllis Diller would even mock him endlessly for ruining what she considered her only true religion—straight gin. I digress. The Winslow would host them all—greatly appreciating their tongue-in-cheek quips and every side-eye glance to those not in the know.
That’s why when you are looking for an amazing cocktail bar in New York, whose staff knows how to handle everything from a martini to their own brand of specialty cocktails, look no further than The Winslow. The fact that the beverage designer and staff at The Winslow know the difference between the styles of gin only enhances the experience. Here is a general breakdown you can use to either impress your local bartender or just hold onto and wait to unleash these facts in an anecdotal fashion at your next cocktail party. These clarifications will also help give you a bit more background before choosing your base for your next cocktail in New York, NY.
· London Dry. This style presents itself with classic notes of juniper and citrus and tends to run drier than other styles. London drys carried at The Winslow include (but not limited to): Tanqueray 10, Nolet’s, No. 3, or Jensen’s. This style is highly recommend for classic martinis.
· Plymouth. For this flavor profile, think London Dry but a bit sweeter and earthier. Much like Bourbon is to Kentucky, Plymouth gin can only be produced in Plymouth, England, making it not only flavorsome but unique. The Winslow carries Plymouth to represent it’s one of a kind style.
· New Wave. It seems that a beautiful new wave gin sprouts up with growing frequency in the last few years. These types veer from the juniper heavy profile and emphasize more floral botanicals, aromatics or vegetal notes. Popular versions of this style include Botanist, Uncle Val’s, St. George or Gunpowder Irish Gin. New Wave style gins enhance any classic such as the Ricky or East Sider.
· Navy Strength. This style is as if London Dry did a prison workout. It is over-proofed and packs quite a punch. You still get the notes of juniper and citrus making it perfect for classic cocktails such as the negroni. In fact, The Winslow uses Perry’s Tot Navy Strength in their signature draught negroni.
· Genever. The mother of all gins, more accurately the great grandmother of all gins. Genever presents a more malty and savory botanical profile, which a viscous mouth-feel. Not for the faint of heart but great to simulate time travel.
· Old Tom. Slightly sweet, a bit malty and oh so smooth– Old Tom finds itself in that nice middle ground between a London Dry and Genever style of gin. Old Toms such as Spring 44’s should basically be the only thing you put in a Tom Collins or Martinez and The Winslow knows that.
· Flavored Gin. Though it depends on the flavor with which the gin is distilled, there is a rising trend of flavored gins. This isn’t as putrid or gaudy as the flavored vodka craze of the 90s and early aughts. Made with real and quality ingredients making them much less cloying. It ranges from the o.g. flavor of Sloe Gin all the way to new and booming companies such as Barr Hill (distilled with raw honey) or Brockman’s (distilled with blueberry and blackberry). The flavor profiles in these products often are found to be gateway gins for self-proclaimed non-gin drinkers—boosting the impact of the Bee’s Knees or Gimlet respectively.
· Grape-based Gin. This style of gin still has strong notes of juniper but added floral notes. It’s made from distilled wine and is a popular base for the iconic Spanish gin and tonic presentation—which was the inspiration for The Winslow’s gin and tonic botanical pairings.
Gin Club and Gin Tasting at The Winslow
If you’d like to learn about many of The Winslow’s featured gins there is no better way than to participate in their famous Gin Club. Several Tuesdays of the month will hold this ticketed event and it’s extremely popular among regulars and gin lovers alike. A $30 ticket gets each guest three drinks, including a welcome gin and tonic as well as two other specialty cocktails of the featured distiller’s choosing. The Winslow also provides passing hors d’ouevres while the highlighted gin representative discusses everything from flavor profiles to distilling techniques with the group. You get to sample and taste many varieties of gin from all around the world. It’s a great way to nerd out about gin, as Tuesdays aren’t just for tacos anymore.
Classic Gin Cocktails
Gin, has been in the hand of many a hero, real or fictional alike. It’s run the gamut from popularity to poison. It’s stigma runs deep from the days when it was illegal to once again becoming trendy as if every customer who walks into a bar is discovering it for the first time. Classic cocktails are all a buzz again, and I wonder if William Hogarth who created the famous engraving “Gin Lane” would be entertained to watch all of his local bartenders reinvent the Bees Knees. There is a reason classic cocktails are just that: classic. They are the little black dress or black suit one always has in their closet. They never go out of style because 1) martinis are delicious and often the only cure for a bad day and 2) there is no need for perfect things to evolve.
Even if that argument finds itself in the severe minority, gin has so saturated our culture that we cannot even disassociate bathtubs from it. Luckily, thanks to several varying health code requirements this isn’t the go to method for distilling anymore, but it’s good to know how to execute said style of distillation in a pinch. Gin so embodies where it comes from given it’s botanical make up, that it can be as English as the Queen, as American as apple pie or Scottish as the hills. Gin always has a story. Maybe that’s why so many writers enjoy it so thoroughly. If you found a picture of a bar from the 1920s you may be surprised to find our many similarities exist with the best bars of today. Sure, hopefully not racist or sexist any longer, but the interior design remains a strong foundation for several of the best cocktail bars still found in NYC.
The new world and old world walk side by side with gin. So many bars now offer their GINventions along with the tried and true staples. This being said, The Winslow offers something for everyone—whether it be classic cocktails, specialty cocktails or one of their over 35 gin and tonics—it is one of the best cocktail bars in NYC. If you find yourself in New York on the east side, especially if in the East Village or Gramercy neighborhoods, a tried and true location for all things gin is THE WINSLOW. It’s an American bar fashioned after a traditional British public house and specializes in Spanish style gin and tonics—so yes, they cover several bases. They do botanical pairings with all of their gins, of which they boast over forty different brands and styles. Order one of their many seasonal creations or a martini (stirred, James, for the last time) and imagine yourself sitting between Dorothy Parker and William Faulkner while they argue over who could out drink whom while exchanging other barbs and witticisms. Dorothy might be the safe bet, but if wagering on which is the best bar, the best bet is always The Winslow.