What Is Rail Gin And What Kind Of Cocktails Is It Used For?

Typically when you order a drink at a bar, if you don't specify a specific brand of liquor for your bartender to use you'll end up with a rail-tier liquor. These are bottles of alcohol that are typically a cheaper version of whatever alcohol you're requesting. The reason it's referred to as "rail" alcohol is because these bottles sit on the easily accessible rail of a bar so the bartender can conveniently reach them. You can have rail versions of different kinds of liquors, from whiskey to vodka, to tequila, and of course, gin.

Unless you're someone who focuses on the label of what they're drinking, you've probably had plenty of rail liquor in your life. Rail alcohol is usually middle to lower quality, so you're not going to be getting the cheapest alcohol on the market, just one that is a happy medium of quality and affordability. Most rail alcohols are probably ones you stock in your liquor cabinets at home.

What kinds of gins are rail gins?

Rail gin isn't focused on being the best gin you'll ever drink but instead offers a cheaper way to enjoy a gin-based drink without breaking the bank. Rail gin is typically used with mixers and serves as an easy way for a bar to supply gin at a fair price. If you ask for a traditional gin drink such as a gin and tonic, a rail gin is most likely what you're getting in your cup. Several brands can be classified as rail gin, and different bars are going to have different options based on what works for them.

Popular rail gin brands include Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, Beefeater, and Gordon's, and Greenall's. These brands of gin are popular both in and out of the bar and for a good reason. These basic gins still provide the herbal kick of flavor and are easy to find at many liquor stores. In fact, most cocktails that feature gin are tested using a rail gin to provide the most consistent flavor from cocktail to cocktail. You can think of rail gin as the middle ground of gins, as they offer an excellent base for gin drinks everywhere.

When to use rail gin for cocktails

As mentioned most basic gin drinks do well in your basic gin cocktails such as gin and tonics, martinis, gimlets, and negronis. These are all pretty straightforward drinks that only have a few other mixers in the recipe. While gin is the main spirit in most of these, additions like vermouth or tonic water alter the flavor profile of the gin. This means you don't necessarily need a super high-quality gin for these drinks. Rail gin is also useful if you want to make an infused gin, such as a cucumber-infused gin. You won't have to waste a high amount of good quality gin to create these infusions, and they still taste nice.

However, there are some situations in which using a rail gin may not give you the results you're looking for. If you are drinking gin straight, meaning with no other mixers, you might want to opt for a higher-quality gin. When you drink any liquor straight, you are doing it to be able to experience all the unique tasting notes and mouth feel of the alcohol. Drinking gin straight is your time to experiment with high-quality gin that boasts an array of different tastes to experience.