As the unofficial gin queen, my knowledge on various gin brands is deep and well-researched. Comprised of juniper, slices of coriander and lemon peel, and other exotic botanicals, gin is basically the perfume of liquors. Showing up at ABC Liquor at 9 a.m. to peruse the shelves, take notes, and “treat myself” to a $20 bottle of Tanqueray is normal for a fresh 21-year-old - who knew adult hobbies could be so fulfilling, tasty, and tipsy?!

Here is an unofficial ranking of popular gin brands sold at ABC Liquor. Although there are 15+ brands sold, I stuck with the classic staples and ABC brands since the pricier ones (i.e. Boodles, Pickering’s) are upwards of $40 per bottle. Cheers!

1. Tanqueray

Mackenzie Patel

Thank god for Charles Tanqueray, the mastermind behind this London dry gin who lived in England during the 1830s. Biting and persistent, Tanqueray reminds the drinker of its presence without being overwhelming. Overtones of pine strike me first, followed by a curtain of lemon tang that courses down your throat.

When tried alone, Tanqueray feels like someone is plunging a juniper-flavored iron into your body. When combined with tonic water, the aggressiveness disappears, leaving an exquisite drink that tops anything I’ve tasted before. I couldn’t even taste the liquor, although my mother (who gets tipsy on half a shot) said it was “very strong.” Pah!

2. Beefeater

Mackenzie Patel

On the sentimental scale, Beefeater tops all other gins: I visited the actual distillery in London (on Montford Place) and toured the museum, distilling room, and bar. The best gin and tonic I’ve tasted was there, the pristine orange slices and British accents making my London adventure wicked.

Beefeater is the most perfume-esque of these gins, the botanicals of juniper, liquorice, coriander, etc. impacting every sip. Like Tanqueray, Beefeater is biting but more honest, its famous component – juniper – not disappearing in the tonic water.

3. Hendrick’s

Mackenzie Patel

WOW, this New York brand is lethal. Although the initial smell reminds me of rubbing alcohol and a damp basement, the taste is smoother than a continuous derivative. Mellow with a slightly sweet aftertaste, Hendrick’s doesn’t have the usual floral aura of most gins (like Beefeater).

It was subtle but strong, the $60 per bottle muddling my brain and making an evening spent alone super entertaining. Everything was hilarious, even my business law lectures.

4. Seagram’s

Mackenzie Patel

Seagram’s lime-twisted gin was my gateway to the world of crafted, classy gin. The combination of this tart liquor with the sweetness of diet tonic water was revolutionary to my palette.

My only prior exposure to liquor was Smirnoff vodka, which is the plain, bitter older sister of gin. Seagram’s smells and tastes less intense than the previous three, although its cheaper price is a boon. It’s the closest to innocent, adult sprite, their slogan of “Famously extra smooth and mellow taste” holding up.

5. Omega

Mackenzie Patel

Featuring a dandy in a green suit on the bottle and distilled in Kentucky, Omega gin was a shot in the dark. It smells of straight-up rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover, the botanicals hiding behind the dandy’s suit.

Alone, it tasted slightly sweet and didn’t make my mouth pucker. I also mixed it with diet tonic water – and holy sh*t, I’ll never be snobby about non-imported gin again. The “Christmas tree” effect is still there, but it’s smooth and effervescent in the tonic. For its low price, Omega is definitely a winner (especially for college students).  

6. Bombay Sapphire

Mackenzie Patel

This gin wins the award for most aesthetically-pleasing bottle: pale blue with white outlines of its ingredients on the side and a jewel-encrusted portrait of Queen Victoria in the middle. Bombay Sapphire was popular in India during the British occupation of the subcontinent (1858 to 1947).

Bottle aside, this gin isn’t my favorite: it smells like mildewed laundry and tastes similar (I imagine). There’s something “damp” and bitter about this gin, the kick of the ingredients blunted or missing altogether.

7. ABC Brand

Mackenzie Patel

I was apprehensive to try the $1.99 ABC brand gin – Distilling gin is a marvelous art, and I wasn’t sure ABC could replicate the grandeur of 1876 Beefeater or 1830 Tanqueray. ABC brand gets the job done (i.e. it affects the brain like alcohol should), but the potency of the botanicals was missing.

There was no fire down the throat – no puckered lips. Alone, it felt liked drinking water tinged with antibacterial gel. However, for the inexpensive price, I could suck down ten of these at a college party. 

The Queen Of All The Liquors

Mackenzie Patel

With my next internship paycheck, I can finish my quest of sampling all the gin from ABC Liquor or Total Wine. Think of all those unexplored varieties (i.e. Fleischmann's, Burnetts, Plymouth) and how left out they must feel! Tanqueray and Beefeater are my ride or dies, but it never hurts to have other minis in your back pocket.