In the age of craft distilleries, it takes something special to make a mark. Enter San Francisco’s Distillery No. 209, an artisanal gin purveyor that happens to be the world’s only distillery built over water. Located on the city’s historic Pier 50, adjacent to AT&T Park (superconvenient before Giants games), Distillery No. 209 traces its origins back to 19th-century Napa, but the taste of its gin — handcrafted from all-natural botanicals including citrusy bergamot orange and coriander seeds — is entirely modern.
Opened to the public in June, the distillery’s monthly No. 209 Gin Experience is a roughly hourlong tasting tour that helps uncover each person’s level of gintrest. Whether a seasoned ginthusiast or a ginnocent vodka drinker, you’ll walk away with new appreciation for the juniper spirit. $25/per person, www.209gin.com
What to look for: Juniper as the predominant flavor, but gin can also contain hints of other botanicals such as anise, cinnamon and rose petal.
Gin quality: Lower-quality gins often include the heads and tails of distilling, which can negatively affect flavor. Top-quality gins — like No. 209 — use only the purest form.
Ginnocent or Ginthusiast: Ginnocents lean toward western-style gins (as opposed to London dry gin, which has a predominant juniper flavor) and refreshing cocktails like Tom Collins. Ginthusiasts tend toward martinis.
+ Other Great Artisan Gin Makers We Love
Breuckelen Distillery, New York Former finance professional Brad Estabrooke now spends his days fermenting New York grains and combining them with rosemary and lemon and grapefruit peel to create his signature gin, available for sampling at the distillery. www.brkgin.com
Southern Artisan Spirits, Kings Mountain, N.C. One of the state’s first legal distilleries after Prohibition, this small-batch purveyor uses organic botanicals such as coriander and cloves to produce a western-style gin with a distinctively floral taste. www.southernartisanspirits.com/index.html