Gin tonic long drink as a classic cocktail in various forms with garnish in individual glasses such as orange, grapefruit, cucumber or berries.

Gin is clear liquor that packs a pretty astounding amount of flavor into a small glass. It’s a neutral grain spirit distilled with juniper and botanicals that has a predominantly piney flavor, but it doesn’t stop there.

It’s similar to vodka, in that they’re both light spirits. But while vodka has no taste, gin is distinctively botanical. There are many varieties of gin, and each distiller makes its own unique take on the liquor that goes beyond juniper (though that’s a pretty standard hallmark of gin regardless). For example, MKT Distillery in Katy, Texas makes a Texas gin with a dialed back juniper flavor and a citrus component featuring ruby red grapefruits, Texas mint, lime, and pecan – along with juniper, of course. The result is a flavor profile that’s half citrus, half floral, and entirely unique.

Like the spirit itself, gin cocktails can be just as varied, though many feature similar flavor profiles of citrus fruits, mint, and a touch of sugar. Gin cocktails are often light, refreshing, and a little bit sweet — the perfect drink for summer or, really, any time of year. Read on to find some classic gin favorites and a few new cocktails that you’ll want to try.

Salty Dog

salty dog cocktail with grapefruit juice

The Salty Dog is quick and easy to mix up, making it perfect for an on-the-fly cocktail that focuses on simple but high-quality ingredients. It’s basically gin and grapefruit juice with a couple of garnishes. And don’t skimp on those garnishes either; for instance, the salt on the rim helps to balance out the sourness and bitter edge of the grapefruit. Generally, a dry gin works best for this drink. Sweeter gins or gins with a lot of added flavorings might overpower the complex flavors of this cocktail.

At MKT Distillery, distiller Nici Cowan-Jessett keeps it simple with the Distillery Dog that’s a mix of gin and grapefruit juice. You can use fresh or prepared grapefruit juice. If you’re squeezing your own grapefruit juice, you’ll need about one grapefruit per drink, and darker flesh will offer the most sweetness. Ruby red grapefruits are the sweetest while white is less sweet.

To make this drink, first rim a glass with salt, then mix two parts grapefruit juice to one part gin. Stir, then garnish with a wedge of grapefruit or other citrus fruit.

Gin and tonic

Bartender pouring and preparing gin and tonic with lime at bar counter. Details of mixology

Ah, the classic gin and tonic. This drink has a real pedigree, including some true-blue medicinal roots. Fever-Tree – which makes tonic water and other cocktail mixers — explains that British soldiers stationed in India got a daily ration of gin and also had medicinal doses of quinine water used to protect against malaria. Quinine was sourced from the bark of a tree, hence the company name. As the story goes, soldiers would mix the two in the drink we now know as the gin and tonic, or G&T for brevity’s sake.

Though it’s another extremely simple gin cocktail, don’t dismiss the gin and tonic. It consists of ice, gin, tonic water, and a twist of lime. It’s all very easy to keep on hand and ready to go when the mood strikes. But, given that it presents somewhat of a blank slate, feel free to dress the drink up a bit as the mood strikes you. The Jessetts at MKT Distillery make their version of the gin and tonic with lime, mint, a cucumber slice, and a sprig of rosemary.

To make your own basic gin and tonic, fill a glass with ice — the more the better. Mix three parts tonic water with one part gin. Peel off some lime zest, squeeze it over the glass to release the oils, and then drop the lime into the glass.

The #1 crush

rose gin cocktail with an orange slice

Do you love rosé wine but want to mix it up a bit from time to time? A refreshing gin cocktail offers a new way to get your fix of rosé with a new botanical edge. With lemon and fresh orange juices, this cocktail, popularly known as the #1 crush, is a tasty way to squeeze in a serving of citrus fruits, too.

Nicky’s Coal Fired in Nashville, Tennessee makes this drink with gin (or vodka), rosé wine, Campari, and strawberries. It’s a light and refreshing spritzer cocktail with a lot of flavors and a seriously alluring color. It’s also perfectly refreshing for the warm days of spring and summer.

To make this drink yourself, combine 1 ½ ounces dry gin, ½ ounce Campari, ½ ounce honey, ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice, and ½ ounce fresh orange juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake it and pour it into a new glass over fresh ice. Add a splash of sparkling rosé, then garnish the rim with an orange slice.

Gimlet

Homemade Gimlet Cocktail in a Coupe

A gimlet is a classic gin cocktail made with gin, fresh lime juice, and simple syrup, If you have your simple syrup ready to go ahead of time, it’s a snap to pull this refreshing cocktail together in just a couple of minutes. It’s a little sweet, tart, and acidic all at once, bringing a nice complexity to a cocktail world that often tends toward the super sweet.

To make simple syrup, you simply need to combine a cup of water and a cup of sugar in a small saucepan. Bring this mixture to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mix in the pot is clear. Then bring the heat down to a simmer, give it a stir, and remove the pot from heat and allow it to cool. Alternatively, you can make simple syrup by combining a cup of honey and a cup of warm water in a glass, then whisking it all until the honey is fully dissolved. Of course, a simple syrup made this way will have a distinct honey flavor that will potentially come out in the finished drink, as opposed to a more neutral syrup made with granulated sugar.

To make a gin gimlet, combine two parts gin, one part fresh lime juice, and one part simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake it up. Strain and pour over ice, then add a sliced lime for garnish.

Tom Collins

Refreshing Gin Tom Collins Cocktail with Lemon

Who is Tom Collins, anyway, and why is there a drink named after him? The fact is that there is no Tom Collins, according to Ozy. There was a running joke, though, that likely led to the genesis of this drink’s name. As the story goes, bar patrons would walk into a bar only to be greeted with a warning that Tom Collins had a bone to pick. The especially gullible might get pretty steamed, thinking some person they’d never met was walking around causing trouble for them. But Tom Collins never materialized to make good on that fight, simply because he didn’t exist. This weird joke from the 19th century didn’t really stick around, but the drink named after him sure did.

This classic gin cocktail combines gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and club soda. And like many gin cocktails, it offers a great way to cool off and refresh on a hot day. To create this drink, in a glass, combine two parts gin with one part freshly squeezed lemon juice and half a part of simple syrup. Then fill it with ice, top it off with club soda, and stir. Add lemon to garnish and an optional cherry on top if you’re feeling fancy. Even Tom Collins himself would approve.

French 75

Boozy Refreshing French 75 Cocktail with Lemon and Champagne

If you’re looking for a gin cocktail that’s both strong and festive, a French 75 will fit the bill. Made with gin and champagne, it’s got the alcohol content and botanical flavor of gin, paired up with the tart sweetness of lemon and the sparkle of some delightfully bubbly wine. Topped with a twist of lemon, it’s light and delicious but packs a better punch than Champagne alone.

You’ll need simple syrup for this recipe, which you can buy premade or simply make your own at home with a 50/50 mix of sugar and water on the stovetop, or else by blending the same ratio of honey to the water.

Here’s how to make it: First, fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then combine 1 ½ ounces of gin, ¾ ounce of fresh lemon juice, and ¾ ounce simple syrup. Shake, then strain into a Champagne flute and top it off with, of course, some Champagne. Peel off a thin slice of lemon peel and then garnish your glass with this twist of lemon.

Vesper martini

Classic Dry Martini with olives on grey table against black background

Made famous by James Bond, 007’s signature drink is named after the double agent Vesper Lynd and featured in the book and movie "Casino Royale." It’s famously shaken, not stirred. Meanwhile, the ice serves to dilute the high-octane drink and add some chill.

It’s described in "Casino Royale" by 007 himself thusly: "Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?" (via "Vodka Distilled").

While you might think of the Vesper martini as primarily a gin martini, it features vodka, too, which helps to dial back some of the botanical taste of the gin. If you’re new to drinking gin cocktails or just want something with a less herbal flavor, then the Vesper martini may be perfect for you. Made of gin, vodka, and vermouth, it’s still a rather stiff, yet sophisticated drink.

To make a Vesper martini, first fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then combine 3 ounces of gin, 1 ounce of vodka, and ½ ounce Lillet Blanc or dry vermouth. Shake — don’t stir — the mixture and strain it into a martini glass. Garnish with lemon peel. Dodge bullets as necessary.

Gin-gin mule

Refreshing Mint GinGin Mule Cocktail with LIme and Ginger Beer

Mules aren’t just for Moscow. The versatile ginger-lime mule can swap in gin, bourbon, and other spirits rather than vodka, often with intriguing results. That’s what Pegu Club in New York City has done with one of their signature drinks, known as the gin-gin mule (via James Beard Foundation). This cocktail features gin instead of vodka, which plays well with the intense ginger flavor.

It’s fun it’s you’re making a mule flight or just trying out different versions of the mule. This fresh cocktail features lime juice, simple syrup, mint, gin, and ginger beer – you can step up the ginger factor with a candied ginger garnish.

To make a gin-gin mule, first combine ¾ ounce fresh lime juice, 1 ounce of simple syrup, and a sprig of mint in a highball glass, then muddle well. In a cocktail shaker, add 1 ¾ ounces gin, 1 ounce of ginger beer, and ice, then shake well and strain into the highball glass. Garnish with mint, lime, and candied ginger.

Gin Rickey

Cocktail of the 1920's gin Rickey served in a tall glass,there is melting ice in the image,shot on a tiled surface.

Unlike the Tom Collins, the gin Rickey is actually named after a real person. According to Difford’s Guide, the gin Rickey was created in 1880 at a Washington, D.C. bar after bartender George A. Williamson saw Colonel Joseph Kyle Rickey squeeze a lime into his whiskey and then top the resulting mixture with some soda. Rickey later purchased the bar and, perhaps unsurprisingly to astute observers like Williamson, became a major U.S. lime importer.

Though similar to the Tom Collins, a gin Rickey is made with lime juice, not lemon and it should be served in a shorter glass than its cocktail cousin. Like many gin cocktails, the gin Rickey is potent but light, featuring flavors of citrus and botanicals from both the namesake liquor and its lime.

How to make it: Combine 1 ½ ounces dry gin, ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice, and ⅓ ounce sugar syrup (a sugar syrup is like a simple syrup, but is made with a 2-to-1 ratio of sugar to water) in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake, then strain into a glass filled with ice. Top it off with ½ ounce of soda water.

Southside

Classic American cocktail Southside based on gin, lemon juice, vodka, syrup and mint

Like many gin drink recipes, the Southside is a simple gin cocktail featuring familiar ingredients, namely gin, mint, citrus, and simple syrup. But this gin cocktail dials it up a notch with a few key tweaks. These include some optional spiced gin, a much heavier mint presence, and cocktail bitters. The result is a lightly sweet, full-flavored gin cocktail.

There’s some disagreement over where exactly the Southside cocktail originated. According to Epicurious, it may have come from the Southside Sportsmen’s Club on Long Island, or it could have originated somewhere on the Chicago South Side during the Prohibition era. There’s even the 21 Club in Manhattan that claims the drink as its original creation.

While you ponder the genesis of this drink, go ahead and make one in order to contemplate its taste as well. To make a Southside, combine 2 ounces spiced gin, 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice, 3/4 ounce simple syrup, up to 10 fresh mint leaves, and two dashes of Angostura cocktail bitters in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake, then double strain into a glass. Garnish it with a mint leaf.

Gin fizz

lemon slice falling into a splashing gintonic isolated on white

A classic gin fizz is a somewhat sweeter version of another classic gin drink, the ultra-classic gin and tonic. If you’re reluctant to go full bitter, then consider this as an introductory drink to the world of gin.

Here, instead of tonic water, the gin fizz cocktail features club soda. Then it adds a bit of lemon juice and powdered sugar for some acidic sweetness to go along with the carbonated bubbles of the club soda. This drink is light and bubbly and easy to make in a bit of a rush. You could also easily scale up the recipe if you’re serving a crowd, meaning this is particularly well-suited for gatherings where you’d like to spend more time with friends than laboring away in the kitchen or behind the bar. With this drink, you might even feel like you’re drinking carbonated gin lemonade.

To craft your own gin fizz at home, combine 2 ounces gin, ½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon powdered sugar in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake, then strain into a glass that’s also been filled with ice. Add 3 to 4 ounces of club soda, then garnish it with a lemon slice. Some more traditional recipes might call for egg whites, but you don’t have to include that ingredient for a great drink here. Other tasty garnishes to try on a gin fizz might include mint, rosemary, and lime.