If you can’t walk past the olive bar at the supermarket without scooping up some castelvetranos or kalamatas and always stock your fridge with a jar of dill spears, you won’t be able to resist these five savory spirits. Their herbal, vegetal or saline qualities render them obvious bases in a Bloody Mary, but all are also tasty in Martinis, mixed with tonic or in just about any drink where you want a savory note.
Constant grocery runs to restock supplies for pickle shots popular during an annual friends-and-family summer vacation in Clearwater Beach, Fla., led to the creation of this unique spirit from the Charleston craft distillery. After the vodka for it has been distilled six times, a patented flavor infusion imparts a dill taste that doesn't peter out in mixed or ice drinks. It’s great in a Vladimiry, but if you drink Picklebacks mainly for the pickle juice, it makes an irresistible shot served ice cold, too.
Inspired by Scotland’s East Coast shoreline, this small-batch London-dry-style gin is evocative of getting splashed with seaspray during a boat ride or taking in a bit of ocean water during a swim at the beach. It’s made with marine botanicals foraged from the seaside including scurvy grass, bladderwrack and ground ivy complemented with spiciness thanks to grains of paradise, cardamom and coriander. Edinburgh gin’s first collaboration with Heriot-Watt University’s Brewing and Distilling MSc course, this gin started off as a limited-edition expression that quickly became so popular the distillery decided to add it to its core lineup. A fresh lightly floral aroma is followed by a sweet and smooth flavor profile with bold juniper, minerality, grassiness, a hint of spice, and a slightly salty tang. Try it in a Gin & Tonic garnished with a crunchy sea bean or a sprig of fresh thyme and a grapefruit slice.
This compex Spanish gin took two years and experimental distilling with more than 40 botanicals to formulate the recipe before the team settled on eight botanicals and four key ingredients: thyme from Turkey, rosemary from Greece, basil from Italy, and the star ingredient, Arbequina olives from Spain. The olives’ acidity level changes every year, meaning every “vintage” and every batch produced at the distillery, a 13th-century chapel in a fishing village between the Costa Brava and the Costa Dorada, is a little different. Mix it into a Spanish Gin & Tonic with a rosemary and olive skewer, or into a Negroni or a dry or Dirty Martini.
Although it’s produced in Los Angeles, this vodka, launched in January 2020, is rooted in three generations of family tradition in Greece. “Any time we break bread, there’s always a bottle of vodka,” says Kástra Elión co-founder and COO Brandon Cohen. Greek olives are blended with grains, distilled six times, mixed with mineral-rich water from Mount Taygetos (the highest peak in Southern Greece) and rested 30 days before being bottled. The resulting spirit is “full-bodied with subtle notes of ripe olives, refined with peppery undertones, and a soft, buttery finish,” according to Cohen, who suggests enjoying it on the rocks. It also makes a great Gibson.
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After O’Live founders Griet van Biervliet and Sofie Gardyn were inspired by the passion of olive farmers in Provence pressing and pickling their olives, they set out to make a gin in their native Belgium that captures that process and tradition, using corn alcohol to best coax out the olives’ flavor. Each of the botanicals in O’Live, including dehydrated olives and juniper berries, is distilled separately, then combined for a delicate yet rich spirit. It’s delicious in cocktails, but it has culinary applications, too. Use it to cure salmon or in sauce for shrimp scampi. Currently available only in Europe, it’s expected to start making its way to the U.S. soon.