Here’s four recipes using new western dry gins (and five bottles to try)

If you’re thinking gin, you’re likely thinking Gin and Tonic — particularly during the summertime. That classic mix of a juniper-forward gin with the bitterness of a quality tonic water, well, it’s a classic pairing for a reason. Piney, citrusy juniper; some lemon, some tonic. They play very well together.

But that’s if you’re using a traditional, London dry style of gin — and these days, with gin popping up from distilleries across the globe, the cast of botanicals on display goes well beyond the juniper, coriander, citrus peel and angelica combo so often seen.

Enter the new western dry gin category. It’s kind of a catch-all term that has developed over the last 10 or so years and is a term coined by US bartender Ryan Magarian as a result of his work with Aviation Gin.

There’s currently three legally recognised gin categories: London gin, distilled gin, and gin. 


For London gin, only 0.1g of sugar per litre is allowed, no artificial or natural flavours are permitted to be added after distillation, and no colouring is allowed. It must also be distilled to greater than 70 percent ABV. This style of gin is what many people associate with gin, and is usually juniper-driven.

Distilled gin, on the other hand, is where a number of these new western dry gins will land. These gins are still the result of redistilling neutral alcohol with botanicals, however there is greater leeway for producers as they don’t have to distil to a certain strength, and can add sweetners, colours and flavours after distillation.

The simple gin category is the least strict of the lot — it doesn’t need to be the result of a redistillation, cold-compounding is allowed, and you can go hell for leather with additions to the spirit. 

The spirit, however, must be predominantly juniper-flavoured. And that’s where some people have criticised these new western dry gins.

How much juniper is present in a new western dry gin? It’s a subjective thing,, but it’s agreed that these gins often have their juniper component dialled further down in the mix — whereas with the London gin category, juniper is the star with a supporting cast of botanicals, new western dry gins are much more of an ensemble piece.

Which raises the question: how do you use these gins? “It seems to be that they focus more on making gins for cocktails,” says Kieran Lee from Sydney’s gin bar, The Barber Shop. “It’s less about the juniper-forward, citrusy London dry style, and more about how far can we push the boundaries?”

But whereas you can argue that many London dry gins can be switched in for one another in classic recipes, it’s not quite the same for new western dry gins. Some are suited to a particular recipe, some simply are not.

“What I do is look at what botanicals they’re using — Hendrick’s is a great example, using cucumber and rose — and then you can go from there,” says Lee. “My go-to for Hendrick’s is the Eastside, a twist on the Southside. It’s gin, lime, mint, sugar and cucumber, and you can’t really use another new western dry for this because it doesn’t quite sit right.”

Cambridge Cooler

  • 45ml Aviation Gin
  • 15ml pickled raspberry
  • 5ml smoked maple
  • 5ml fresh lime juice
  • ½ finger lime
  • 3 whole pickled raspberries

Shake and strain into fancy highball over crushed ice. Garnish with a dehydrated lime wheel.

For the Pickled Raspberry:

  • 750g frozen raspberries
  • 250ml water
  • 125ml apple cider vinegar
  • 105g caster sugar
  • 5 whole peppercorns

Place all ingredients into a sterilised container and leave refrigerated for 24 hours. Fine strain into a sterilised container and keep refrigerated.

Adapted from a recipe by Michael Thompson of The Baxter Inn.

Army & Navy

  • 45ml Rutte Celery Gin
  • 20ml orgeat
  • 20ml lemon
  • 2 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled coupe.

The Philosopher’s Tea

  • 50ml Hendrick’s Gin
  • 60ml pomegranate and cranberry tea
  • 5ml Campari
  • 10ml turmeric syrup
  • 2 dashes of Angostura aromatic bitters
  • Soda to top

Shake all ingredients with ice except for the soda water. Strain into a Collins glass with ice, top with soda.

Adapted from a recipe at The Barber Shop, Sydney.

Bloody Cobbler

  • 50ml Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin
  • 20ml pedro ximenez sherry
  • 2 dashes of peach bitters

Mix ingredients in a Cobbler glass with crushed ice, garnish with lemon, orange, and strawberries.

Adapted from a recipe at The Barber Shop, Sydney.

Five gins to try

Aviation Gin
Described by its creator, US bartender, Ryan Magarian, as a democracy of botanicals, Aviation employs juniper, cardamom, coriander, lavender, anise seed, sarsaparilla, and dried orange peel and comes from Portland, in the US. Vanguard Luxury Brands

Hendrick’s Gin
Hendrick’s is an emblematic gin of recent times. Its addition of rose and cucumber set it apart, along with the eccentric branding and the classic serve of a slice of cucumber in their G&Ts. William Grant & Sons

Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin
Here’s a gin that has quickly curried favour with bartenders and punters alike. For this expression, they take Yarra Valley shiraz grapes and steep them in Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin for eight weeks. Vanguard Luxury Brands

Rutte Celery Gin
Rutte hails from Holland, and that country has a fair bit of experience working with juniper, but this recent addition to the Australian scene has a herbaceous palate and sees celery distilled with juniper, coriander, angelica, sweet orange peel and cardamom — it makes one of the best Army & Navy’s we’ve tried. Bacardi-Martini

Bloom Gin
This gin presents with a floral nose, with traditional perfume and earthy aromas; the predominant notes are chamomile, pomelo and honeysuckle, with a smooth finish, but due to the way in which it is made it’s still earns the London dry denomination on its label. SouthTrade

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