Los Angeles’ Greenbar Distillery recently added gin to its stable of spirits, with this release, City Bright Gin (there’s also a City Amber Gin) the flagship expression.
Says Greenbar, “Taste the flavors of Los Angeles — from the aromatic herbs of East and South Asia to the floral & earthy flavors of Mexico and the Middle East. This is how Angelenos eat.” To that end, the gin is infused with a somewhat odd melange of organic juniper berries, ancho chiles, angelica, basil, California bay, cardamom, cassia, coriander, cubeb, black cumin, fennel, grapefruit, lemon balm, lemon, lemongrass, kaffir lime, lime, pink peppercorn, Sichuan peppercorn, peppermint, spearmint, and star anise.
The results are interesting, unusual, and worthwhile. The nose is instantly complex. That kaffir lime catches the nose immediately, along with sharp grapefruit. There’s an earthiness underneath it, though, driven by more traditional gin ingredients like cardamom and angelica. Juniper? Almost an afterthought to stronger citrus notes bleeding through.
The palate again sees that kaffir lime — as strong a flavor as you’ll find in any spirit — dominating, though the peppers and chiles quickly show their hand. It’s not a spicy spirit, but it does have a bite to it, a pungency that complements notes of anise/fennel, mint, and, at last, some juniper.
The finish is a bit earthy and rustic — while up front the gin is indeed as bright as its name would indicate — but on the whole it’s a unique, yet nicely balanced gin with plenty to recommend it for any cocktail recipe.
A- / $30 / greenbardistillery.com