They say you can never go home again. And that advice is pretty solid except when you find that you can, in fact, go home again. And everything works out fine.
That's my story with Gordon's and I'm sticking to it. About eight or nine years ago, I realized that the Gin and Tonic was my go-to drink: something solid and reliable in just about every situation. I don't think that's changed too much since. If I was concussed from a car accident and you dragged my groggy ass out of the driver's seat and yelled, "What are you drinking?" I'd slur out "gin'ntonic."
Back then, I realized that if I made a gin and tonic with Gordon's instead of Tanqueray or Bombay Sapphire, it was business as usual. It still tasted great. It still had the essential balance of flavors I was looking for. I went through more than a few bottles.
Part of me was a little apprehensive about returning to Gordon's recently. Since getting more interested in better booze and starting the initial writing for Spirit Animal, I've had a lot of pretty good to really nice gins on my home shelf at any given time. So if I had a hankering for a G&T, Hendricks, Broker's, Boodles, or any number of solid products were at arm's reach. There wasn't really a reason to buy Gordon's with a glut of "better" options, I reasoned.
A few nights ago I was at the supermarket and saw a fifth of Gordon's for the princely sum of $11. I wondered if it would be like Jameson: something I liked at the time but wouldn't necessarily bother with now. "No time like the present," I figured.
So let's get to it: Gordon's is dirt cheap. Having had some really good gins, I can see a few more faults in it at this stage of my life. Tasting Gordon's straight, there's a bit of a vodka-like quality in that there isn't a superb depth of flavor, and there's a slight bit of acetone in the finish. However, it's not nearly as harsh as you'd expect from a gin costing $11.
But here's the thing: Gordon's wisely knows how to double down on the juniper flavor, and the aggressive finish really isn't that aggressive at all when combined with tonic water and some lime. As a result, it is a superlative mixer in a Gin and Tonic. I try not to evaluate spirits on the basis of a single application, but the G&T is arguably the quintessential cocktail that calls for gin, and here Gordon's gives you exactly what you need. To the point where I'd almost consider it a waste to use anything else. Basically, Gordon's is Batman and tonic water is the Bat Signal.
I also tested it in a 4:1 Martini with about a quarter of an ounce of olive brine, and it was as classic and as well-balanced a flavor as I could have asked for. Here again, the olive juice hand-waves away most shortcomings of the gin, but the juniper comes through to give you the taste you want.
So in the end, you can go home. Back in 2008, I thought, "Huh: Gordon's makes for a good gin and tonic!" And in 2016, I'm saying the exact same thing. It now has a permanent home on the bar, and it's not going to break the bank for me to keep it there.