There's more to gin than pairing it with tonic, though we like that too.

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Gin is in, folks. Don’t think so? Go to just about any bar, and you’ll see a menu of classic drinks reinvented by some of Houston’s most respected bartenders. The US is one of the highest gin-drinking population in the world, second only to the Phillipines. After making a strong comeback last summer, we’re seeing even more new twists on classic gin cocktails from some of the city’s favorite bars. And a the the temperatures heat up and summer approaches, there’s no doubt that gin—which blends best with crushed ice and light, summery flavors—will continue being a popular choice. If you're just getting to know gin again, here are a few cocktails to add to your Saturday night repertoire.
 

Alastian Cousin
Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar & Spirit Lodge

Never could I have imagined that strawberry and vanilla would be good additions to a gin cocktail, but Bad News Bar proved my aversion wrong. This cocktail is like drinking a strawberries and cream dessert. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
 

Aviation
Moving Sidewalk

This floral cocktail makes me feel like I’ve stepped into a French garden, even with the hundreds of Houstonians crowding around me trying to get the same drink. Gin and lemon are the base for this basic at Moving Sidewalk, but the maraschino and creme de violette are the real stars in this botanic masterpiece.
 

Gin and Tonic
Mongoose versus Cobra

The secret of this simply genius drink lies in the tonic. Instead of being handed an overly-ginned drink with supermarket tonic water, Mongoose versus Cobra gives you your gin along with your own bottle of their house-made, cola-colored tonic. Add as much, or as little, as you want, and enjoy one of the most impressive G&Ts around.
 

Ginger Rogers
Stone’s Throw

I trust anywhere that selects their mint garnish in front of me. Stone’s Throw has yet to do anything wrong for me, but the drink it gets so incredibly right is the Ginger Rogers. The house-made ginger beer is the most noticeable ingredient, and with good reason. The mix of gin, gin liqueur, lime juice, agave nectar and mint work to make a soda-like cocktail, without the mounds of artificial sugar.
 

The Last Word
Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar & Spirit Lodge

The Last Word was originally a Prohibition-era cocktail that had fallen out of favor until famed Seattle bartender Murray Stenson rediscovered it in 2009. Bad News Bar has since created its own spin, and it’s a good one. The cult favorite, which isn’t on the menu, is a mix of gin, maraschino, green chartreuse, lime and mint. The bold flavors—including a hint of licorice from the chartreuse—make the drink a perfect blend of strength and refreshment.
 

Southside
Anvil Bar & Refuge

I’ve begun to question the frequency with which I peruse the Anvil cocktail menu; I always find my way to this place of sophistication and marvelously crafted cocktails. To date, there’s no other cocktail that compares to their classic Southside (though several make quite the case). A simple mix of dry gin, lemon and mint, the highly trained bartenders manage to make a seemingly uncomplicated drink a staple of the average Houston gin drinker. The Southside is served at numerous bars around the city, but the history lesson I get on the drink while waiting for it during happy hour earns this one extra points.

 

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