The best gin substitutes are liquids that can match the botanical and aromatic qualities of gin while having a similar amount of alcohol. Good gin substitutes have flavors and aromatics that are floral and botanical. They contain enough alcohol to hold up to other ingredients when cooking.
This article will discuss the 5 best alternatives for gin when making food or drink recipes, what are the best specific choices for these alternatives, and which qualities make for good gin substitutes in food and drink recipes.
Much like gin, vodka is made from a neutral spirit, but where gin is usually distilled from grain, vodka can be distilled from a number of base ingredients. Even though labeled a neutral spirit, it doesn’t necessarily mean the ingredients used to distill don’t add some flavor or aroma to the final product.
Therefore it is important to know what the vodka is distilled from in order to be the best possible choice as a substitute for gin when making food or drink recipes. The best choice would most likely be grain-based vodka.
The table below shows some of the most popular vodkas in 2022 and what they are distilled from
|Brand Of Vodka||Ingredient It Is Distilled From||Is This Grain Based?|
|Belvedere Vodka||Dankowskie Gold Rye||Yes|
|Grey Goose Vodka||Single Origin Winter Wheat||Yes|
|Chopin Vodka||Wheat, Rye, Or Potato||The Wheat And Rye Are, The Potato Is Not|
|Prairie Organic Vodka||Corn||No|
|Absolut Vodka||Winter Wheat||Yes|
|JCB Vodka||Wine Grapes||No|
It is also important to note that gin contains a wide variety of botanicals and herbs. Therefore another option when substituting vodka for gin is to look for brands that use these types of adjuncts for flavoring the vodka.
Some vodkas that contain botanicals and herbs include:
- Ketel One Botanical
- Square One Botanical Vodka
- Blackwoods Botanical Vodka
Choosing a botanical vodka for your food and drink recipes can help imitate some of the flavors that you will find in gin. These products include a variety of flavors including citrus, herbs, and other flavorful plants much like gin does.
Another advantage of vodka as a substitute for gin in drinks and food is the lack of color. Gin is generally clear, as is vodka. So from an aesthetic standpoint, vodka is an excellent choice when replacing gin in recipes.
Because the base spirit is highlighted in cocktails more than it is in cooking, it is especially important to choose the right vodka when you are making drinks. When cooking with alcohol, some of the alcohol is lost in the process. You will still taste the character of the liquor you cook with, though not as intensely as when drinking it in its pure form in a cocktail.
Vermouth is made with a long list of botanicals; therefore, it can work wonderfully in the place of gin for both food and drink recipes. Gin and vermouth are often used side by side in cocktails due to the complementary flavors found in the two spirits.
Vermouths come in a variety of styles that include both sweet and dry. Because gins are most often a dry flavored spirit, it is important to choose vermouth which is both complex and on the drier side when selecting a good substitution for gin.
Here is a list of some popular vermouths and their flavor profiles:
|Brand Of Vermouth||Flavor Notes||Sweet Or Dry|
|Dolin Vermouth Dry||Citrusy And Herbal||Dry|
|Dolin Vermouth Rouge||Fruity, Nutty, And Peppery||Sweet|
|Martini & Rossi Extra Dry||Wood Notes, Herbal, Citrusy||Dry|
|Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth||Herbal, Fruity, Vanilla Notes||Sweet|
|Noily Pratt Extra Dry Vermouth||Floral, Herbal||Dry|
|Cinzano Extra Dry Vermouth||Citrusy, Herbal, Complex||Dry|
|Jardesca California Aperitiva||Peppery, Citrusy, Herbal||Dry|
In addition to dryness being an important factor when finding a good substitute for gin in food and drink recipes, you must also pay attention to other flavor notes. Gin uses many botanicals and these include flavors like herbs, flowers, tree bark, and other plants. Vermouths use many of these same ingredients for flavor, making vermouth a great substitute for gin.
One other thing to keep in mind, however, is that sweet vermouths tend to have a red hue. Gin is clear, so this may affect the color of your food or drink recipe if you select sweet vermouth. This is just one reason why you would want to select dry vermouth as a replacement for gin.
The best vermouths to use for a gin substitute would be those that are the most complex, herbal, and as dry as possible. One popular choice as a gin substitute is Martini & Rossi Extra Dry Vermouth because it includes all of these tasting notes and qualities. Other great choices include:
- Jardesca California Apertiva
- Cinzano Extra Dry Vermouth
- Martini Riserva Speciale Ambrato
These dry vermouths will all work wonderfully as a substitute for gin in many cocktail and food recipes. If you are using it in place of gin in a cocktail it won’t be as piney, but you will still taste multiple layers of flavor from the many botanicals used in these gins. In addition, it will mimic the dryness of gin in both drink and food recipes alike.
3. Juniper Flavored Non-Alcoholic Beverages
Because juniper is one of the primary botanicals in most gins, juniper-flavored non-alcoholic beverages work well in place of gin in both food and drink recipes. Juniper has a piney flavor and aroma that is distinct and one of the most recognizable qualities of gin.
There are many non-alcoholic juniper-flavored alcoholic beverages on the market. Some are carbonated sodas, others are sold as syrups that you can add to sparkling or still water. Because gin is not carbonated there are certain recipes that would do better with a still juniper beverage.
However, many cocktail recipes involving gin do contain carbonation, so depending on the recipe you are using the juniper flavored beverage as a gin substitute for, carbonated options can work perfectly well.
Here are some popular juniper flavored beverages:
|Brand Of Beverage||Type Of Beverage||Carbonated Or Non-Carbonated|
|Navy Hill Juniper Soda + Tonic||Juniper Flavored Tonic||Carbonated|
|Olive Nation||Juniper Flavor Extract||Non-Carbonated|
|Tanquerey Alcohol-Free||Zero Alcohol Gin||Non-Carbonated|
|Dona Spice Sodas||Juniper & Lime Soda||Carbonated|
|Culture Pop||Grapefruit, Ginger, & Juniper Soda||Carbonated|
|Floral Elixer Co.||Juniper Berry Flower Syrup||Non-Carbonated|
|Florida Herbs||Juniper Berry Extract||Non-Carbonated|
Most of these beverages would work well as a gin substitute depending on the level of carbonation you want in your recipe. The advantage of using syrup or extract is that you can control the level of carbonation you want in your food or drink recipe. You can buy a juniper-based syrup, or even make your own at home!
To make the greatest variety of both food and drink recipes, it would be best to choose a non-carbonated substitute for gin. The best choice would be syrup or extract so that you can control the amount of flavor and carbonation needed for your recipe. These are all great choices:
- OliveNation Juniper Flavor Extract
- Homemade Juniper Syrup
- Floral Elixer Co. All Natural Juniper Berry Syrup
While all three of these choices would allow you to control the carbonation of your gin substitute, the juniper flavor extract would be the best choice because it is the driest in flavor, like gin, and it also would not affect the color of your food or drink the same way that the other products may.
Using syrup or extract in your food and drink recipes will mimic the juniper flavor found in gins. While you will not get as many additional botanical flavors and aromas you can choose which you would like to add in addition to the juniper flavor.
This allows you creative license to add a wide variety of flavors to your recipe depending on which other herbs, citrus, and other flavors you think will best work in your food or drink recipe.
Because there are so many different possibilities you can add to a juniper-based syrup this is a great choice for a gin substitute in both food and drinks. It allows you to create your own gin substitute based on what flavors you think will work best.
4. Juniper Flavored Alcoholic Beverages
There are juniper-based alcoholic beverages that are not gin that can be used for drinks and cooking as a substitute. Juniper is a prominent flavor in most gins, but gins vary in what their other ingredients include. There are juniper-based liquors on the market that are not gin.
Whether you choose something with a similar overall flavor profile to gin, or much different, there are numerous juniper-flavored alcoholic beverages that you can substitute for gin. This is a good substitute because you get one of the predominant base flavors but the overall flavor profile can be different from gin which allows you to complement particular food and drink recipes more effectively.
Here is a list of juniper-based liquors that are good gin alternatives:
|Brand Of Liquor||Flavor Profile||Color Of Liquor|
|Cocalero||Juniper, Green Tea, Ginger||Bright Green|
|(Minus) 33||Juniper, Citrus, Dry||Completely Clear|
|Kranewitt Vinars da Ginaive||Kranewitt Vinars da Ginaive||Completely Clear|
|Zerbenz Stone Pine Liqueur||Herbal, Piney, Sweet||Medium Intensity Red|
From a pure flavor standpoint, most of these juniper-based liquors would be good replacements for gin because they are attempting to achieve very similar profiles, However, Cocalero and Zerbenz Stone Pine Liqueur are both bright colors that would stand out in certain food and drink recipes.
The best choice when using a juniper-based liquor to replace gin in food and drink recipes would be a spirit that is dry, clear, and has similar botanicals to gin in addition to the juniper berries. In this respect, the best two choices from this list are:
- Kranewitt Vinars da Ginaive
- (Minus) 33
(Minus) 33 is the closest thing you will find to gin that is not technically gin. It is almost a point of controversy to not call it gin as really the main difference is the lower proof in alcohol and thus lower amount of sugar. But because it does not qualify as a true gin and is so similar, this makes it an excellent choice as a substitute for gin for both cocktail and food recipes.
Choosing a clear, dry liquor made from juniper berries and containing similar botanicals to those found in gin is an excellent replacement for gin in both food and drink recipes. This makes these choices among the best you will find for gin substitutes.
5. Other Similar Botanicals
One effective replacement for gin in food and drink recipes is using juniper berries and other fresh ingredients in place of the spirit. There are a variety of botanicals found in gin, and many of these are also found in the kitchen pantry or grocery store and can be used in food and drink recipes.
There are numerous botanicals found in gin, which are also easy to find at home and at the store. Some of the most common include:
- Citrus fruits (orange, lemon, grapefruit).
- Cassia Bark
A great way to get some of the flavors that you find in gin from another source is to pick similar plants, herbs, and spices to use in your recipe fresh. Even Juniper Berries can be used when fresh. This is one of the best ways to replace gin and achieve not only a similar flavor profile but the exact flavor profile that you want in both food and drink recipes.
You will want to keep in mind the one major difference is that gin is alcohol-based. You could add neutral alcohol to the recipe afterward, or even soak your choice botanicals in the neutral alcohol to achieve the closest gin substitute possible while using fresh herbs, citrus, and spices.
Using these fresh, raw ingredients as a gin substitute is another great way to replace gin in food and drink recipes. Just understand that gin is alcohol-based and clear, so there may be extra steps needed to ensure that your fresh botanicals produce a similar flavor and color to gin.
For more, don’t miss The 7 Best Similar Substitutes for Sherry in Soup.
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
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With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
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