Gin isn’t the most popular spirit in the world, least of all Dallas. But more and more people are ditching vodka in favor of this botanically-flavored spirit, which means more interesting gin cocktails for the rest of us.
Across Dallas, you can find one million boring juice-and-gin drinks, and that’s fine. But if you’re interested in the innovative gin drinks, try these 10. They’re the best in town.
Parliament, Ramos Gin Fizz (above)
This is the gin cocktail to end all gin cocktails. Its flavor components — orange peel, lemon juice, and orange blossom water — are simple, but when mixed together and frothed with a little egg white, the resulting cocktail is impressive. The bartenders here don’t even groan (much) when you order a few rounds of Ramos, because they’re the ones who got you hooked on this cocktail in the first place. Keep an eye out for Eddie “Lucky” Campbell’s seasonal versions of the drink, like last year’s pumpkin spice twist, pictured above.
Midnight Rambler, The Savory Hunter
The menu at Midnight Rambler is full of cocktails that look too weird to drink at first glance, but once you’ve bitten the bullet and made your order, you’re undoubtedly going to be impressed. The Savory Hunter, made with lemongrass and kaffir lime-infused gin, coconut, and cilantro, is complex without being difficult to drink. Fair warning, though — you definitely should not try to eat the dried chili garnish because you will regret it later.
Windmill Lounge, Tom Collins
There is probably no cocktail more classic than a Tom Collins, and yet they’re remarkably easy for bartenders to fuck up. Too much sugar and it’s a syrupy mess, too much lemon and your face is puckered for an entire week. At Windmill Lounge, though, owner Louise is happy to mix up a perfectly balanced Tom Collins that is one of the most simple and drinkable cocktails in town. Don’t be too surprised when you slam back six and have to Uber home.
Victor Tangos, Pepper Smash
The Pepper Smash has been on the menu at Victor Tangos since the beginning of time, and for good reason. The combination of fresh bell peppers, gin, mint, lemon, and clover honey is still craft-y enough to hang with its fancier, more modern counterparts, and those veggies in the glass make you feel at least a little bit better about all that gin you’re going to be drinking. To make the cocktail even better, ask for a little extra mint in your glass — it goes surprisingly well with those bell peppers.
Henry’s Majestic, The Scarlet Begonia
Barman Alex Fletcher’s creative cocktails are the star at Henry’s Majestic, and The Scarlet Begonia is their swanky standout. Mixed with Lillet Blanc, raspberry, and sparkling rose, it is sweet without being saccharine, and totally refined. Pink peppercorn syrup adds a little dose of spice, rounding out this delicate cocktail that is great with brunch, dinner, or when you just feel like drinking something really fancy.
The Standard Pour, Martinez
The Martinez is a spirit-forward, Prohibition-era cocktail that has slowly made its way back into the cocktail consciousness. It is sort of a gin Manhattan, made with vermouth, Maraschino liqueur, and a little Angostura bitters, with plenty of botanical kick from the gin. If you enjoy martinis, Manhattans, or even the occasional Negroni, you’ll appreciate this strong sip that is somehow pretty damn smooth.
Parliament, The Banksy
The gin program at Parliament is one of the more extensive in town, and each cocktail is markedly different than the next. The Banksy is perhaps one of the more unique cocktails on the entire menu. Frothed with a little egg white, citrus-infused gin, allspice, and fruity flavors come together to produce a complex cocktail with a sophisticated finish. You’ll probably want to snap those Instagram photos early before the Angostura-stencilled Parliament logo ends up on your upper lip.
Bolsa, The Mirage
Trying to decide which cocktail to order at Bolsa is damn near impossible, but you should try The Mirage at least once, especially if you’re really into floral flavors. Here, gin is infused with chamomile flowers, adding a light botanical note to an already floral gin. The gin is then mixed with Manzanilla sherry, jasmine, and Mediterranean tonic, which is also infused with floral essential oils. Most floral-forward cocktails end up tasting like your grandmother’s soap dish, but The Mirage is a light and breezy sip that will have you craving more floral flavors with your booze.
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Proof + Pantry, Lime Curd Gimlet
The lime curd gimlet is technically not on the menu at Proof + Pantry, but they’ve got all the stuff to make it for you if you just ask. You should also probably specify Ford’s Gin, as its unassuming flavor profile works best with the buttery, rich lime curd that’s kept behind the bar here. Not much else is needed to make this a perfect afternoon cocktail, but if you wanted to ask for a little bit of that housemade grenadine in your glass, we certainly couldn’t blame you.
CBD Provisions, Pickled Provisions Martini
Many gin cocktails are sweet, largely due to the pervasive idea that it’s just too botanical of a spirit for most people’s palates. At CBD Provisions, though, the bartenders fully embrace gin’s straightforward flavors in the Pickled Provisions Martini. Mixed with a little apple brine, blanc vermouth, and orange bitters, it’s a complex drink that is wholly unlike most other gin cocktails in town.