Though you won’t find it in any guidebook, here lies a route that skirts jagged coastlines, descends into canyons, and spans wide-open, forageable fields to showcase the wild environs where diverse New American (or Western) gins find their flavors. Along the way, out there amid the untamed, natural beauty of the US, there’s a growing class of small craft distillers who search beyond the juniper berry to infuse their gins with something altogether evocative—a sense of the elements and the taste of their specific places of origin.
Among our recommendations this month, a modern gin from the forests of California features Douglas fir and bay laurel in the mix; one from Arizona ups the citrus and warm spice notes; and in Missouri you can find elderberry and sage added to the blend. All around the country, a sea change for the spirit is catching on, fueled by the desire to highlight a wide range of local (sometimes exclusively so) botanicals that tamp down the proportion of juniper and transport discerning drinkers straight to the source.
For November’s box, we’re joining this expedition with cocktails that celebrate all things natural and wild. Offering up recipes that highlight ingredients from their necks of the woods, our featured bartenders are excited to offer up glimpses of three majestic National Parks and Monuments near and dear to them—and are donating their proceeds directly to those lands for preservation and beautification efforts.
It’s going to be a tasty tour that doubles as a salute to the National Park Service, an agency which reminds us that profound beauty is right in our backyards and needs to be looked after, perhaps more now than ever. So let’s not board up for winter just yet. It’s time to get outdoors and Keep Gin Wild! Subscribe now through November 1st to get yours—it’ll ship the week of November 4th.
The substance beneath the surface of this riff on a timeless favorite earns it the title of Submariner’s Gimlet. Here, Matty McGee combines gin with Monarch Aromatic Bitters and a complex cordial made of seaweed, bay laurel, and a lime oleo saccharum. These flavors and aromas were chosen to reflect the striking scenery set above the choppy waters of the Pacific at Muir Woods National Monument. Hike its winding paths, outlined by impossibly tall redwood trees—or just sidle up to your home bar with this drink!—for a crisp, briney, botanical-driven sensory experience.
Matty has bartended and managed bars for the past 12 years in his hometown of Oakland, California. You can now find him behind the bar at the fun and laid-back Prizefighter in Emeryville.
Born in Diamond, Missouri, George Washington Carver went on to accomplish much in the fields of agricultural science and education. The National Monument bearing his name stands among rolling hills and prairies in that town today, while a few hours’ drive east into St. Louis will lead you to Natasha’s Gin Room. In this annex to her Iranian-born parents’ community-celebrated restaurant, Natasha Bahrami has amassed a collection of rare spirits—including hundreds of gins—and displays a flair for serving classics along with more contemporary spins. Her Foraged Bee’s Knees falls somewhere in the middle. This Prohibition-era favorite is updated via a deeply flavored hibiscus honey syrup with herb and spice notes—and to make it even more wild, a finishing spray of white pine gives a knowing nod to the compelling landscapes of the Show-Me State.
Natasha is the owner of The Gin Room. With her company Ginworld, she’s created educational platforms that enlighten and help elevate the gin category in cities domestically and abroad.
The sunset sky at Grand Canyon National Park dazzles visitors daily with its dramatic show of yellow, orange, pink, and purple streaks. Taking a cue from those warm and hazy hues, Erick Castro shakes up his High Desert Milk Punch into a subtle, nearly iridescent shade of lavender. The color comes as no surprise since the flower (one of the best-suited for the arid Arizona environment) works overtime in the drink—in Woodward Extract Co.’s custom-created Arizona Lavender extract and then within a blend of lavender and grapefruit oils for the lively aromatic finishing touch. Vanilla-accented coconut milk provides the foundation for this bouquet of bright, floral flavors while gin adds its own botanicals to the punch, resulting in a frosty, inviting cocktail—topped with vivid marigold petals, to put on a memorable display of its own.
Erick is a James Beard Award–nominated bartender and partner at San Diego’s Polite Provisions (Imbibe’s Bar of the Year 2014) and Raised by Wolves (Imbibe’s Bar of the Year 2019), and NYC’s Boilermaker. He also hosts the Spirited Award–nominated podcast “Bartender at Large,” which chronicles life in the global bar industry.
You likely won’t have to journey far to retrieve your box from the mail this November, but each cocktail within will represent its own adventure out into the wilderness. Sign up today to Keep Gin Wild and sip your way across state lines to take in—and support!—three wondrous US National Parks and Monuments.
The Shaker & Spoon Team
*not vegan: hibiscus honey syrup