Here at IPTB we make no secret of our partiality to a good gin. For a couple years now I’ve wanted to give Hendrick’s a try, but the almost $30 price tag for 750 ml of hooch has made me hesitant. Finally though, I could no longer resist the allure of that squat ugly bottle. Like so many others in the ancient boozehound tradition, I allowed the call of a good drink to override good sense, and from my first sip I knew I had made the right choice.
Hendrick’s refers to itself as “a gin made oddly,” and the description is apt. Hendrick’s is produced in small batches through a two-still process, which is likely what accounts for the price tag. Smaller batches means more control over the finished product, but it also means higher prices per volume. What’s really intriguing about this gin though is the flavoring. Gin is traditionally infused with juniper for its characteristic flavor. A lot of cheaper gins though will really lean on the juniper flavor to mask the low quality of their liquor. Hendrick’s actually downplays the juniper in favor of the unique combination of cucumber and rose petal infusions.
The result is a mild gin with a floral aroma. Most other gins will dominate the flavor of a drink, but Hendrick’s is a bit more reserved. Because of this, Hendrick’s is probably not the right gin for drinks with strong lemon or lime flavors like the Princeton Cocktail or the Bernardo. The Hendrick’s website does have a nice variety of cocktail suggestions, many of them created specifically to bring out the unique flavors of this odd gin. We’ll post the recipe for one of these, the Pink Victrola, later.
Of course one of the most important metrics for any gin is whether it makes a good Martini, pictured here with the Hendrick’s bottle. As you see, the Hendrick’s website suggests garnishing a Hendrick’s Martini with a slice of cucumber. Now usually I’m pretty strict on what garnish goes in my Martini, either a twist of lemon or three green olives (one olive is skimping, and two is bad luck), but Hendrick’s is so unusual already that I’m willing to bend on this one. As I noted before, this is a mild, dare I say delicate gin. Therefore you’ll want to make a Hendrick’s Martini very dry, as in Saharan.
Hendrick’s is one of those gins that reminds me why I got into amateur boozehoundery to begin with. This is a craft spirit in every sense of the word. This is a gin that substantially changes any drink that you make with it. It’s thanks to craft spirits like Hendrick’s that you can make yourself a Martini every night for a month and never have the same drink twice. And if you’re serious about quality cocktails, $30 for such an interesting and game changing liquor as Hendrick’s is well worth the investment.