Gin is something that I’ve learned to love with age. In college, the only gin I encountered was in plastic bottles with a strong Pinesol-esque aftertaste, leaving nothing to be desired. Post-grad as an avid olive-hater, I steered clear of martinis until I discovered the cocktail served up with a twist. Now that I’ve upgraded to solely drinking liquor that is sold in a glass vessel, I have finally embraced gin and all of the varieties it has to offer.
That being said, I am still a novice gin drinker and have a lot to learn. I jump at every chance to further my higher food-and-drink education, so I immediately RSVPed with my friend Andrea to check out Gin Club, which is hosted weekly at the Winslow in the East Village.
I’ve walked past the Winslow near the corner of 14th Street and 2nd Avenue and taken note of the great typography on the facade. I seriously judge a restaurant for poor font choice. Upon entering Gin Club for the first time, I was pleased to see the interior was just as nice. The Winslow reminded me of an upscale neighborhood sports bar, which is a pleasant difference from more traditional (aka dirty) sports bars nearby in the Village. There’s nothing wrong with sports bars, but I’m the gal who orders white wine at a baseball game if that tells you anything.
Gin Club is situated in a semi-private room in the back of the Winslow, which comfortably seats about fifteen fellow gin-lovers and allows participants to engage in a lively dialogue. Each week a different gin vendor hosts the club and during this particular session we were hosted by Alex of Barr Hill based out of Vermont.
What I really loved about Gin Club was during the two hour event, we were never simply tasting or listening to facts. We were promptly handed gin and tonics garnished with fresh herbs during the introduction, learned how to make a few signature cocktails, tasted gin and honey wine straight, and crushed juniper berries, all while learning fascinating tidbits about the history and production of the spirit. For instance, one of my takeaways was that the primary difference between vodka and gin is that gin is made with juniper berries.
During the tasting, Andrea and I were both struck by the lack of alcoholic bite to Barr Hill gin. Even with more high-end gins, I was accustomed to needing to sip a few times to take the initial edge off. However, Barr Hill gin is made with raw honey, a unique element that softens and sweetens the traditional gin taste. We were both astonished that we could easily sip the Barr Hill gin straight, and may have over-discovered the spirit’s easy drinkability based on our headaches the next day.
Alex, the gregarious director of sales, informed us that Barr Hill is available in a variety of local liquor stores and upscale bars and eateries such as The Smith and PDT. After this great tasting, I’ll be keeping an eye out for Barr Hill at my next venture to a lower Manhattan speakeasy. Knowing me, that will probably be this weekend!
If the Barr Hill Gin Club was indicative of the upcoming Gin Clubs at the Winslow, I’d highly recommend checking out this gathering with friends in the place of a standard happy hour. You’ll be treated to plenty of drinks and tasty bar snacks courtesy of the Winslow, and you just may learn something too.
243 E. 14th St.
New York, NY