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Rail Gin Explained: Best Brands, Drink Ideas & FAQs
Introduction to Rail Gins
What is a rail gin? A “rail gin” is typically a lower quality or less expensive gin that is used as a default option in bars and pubs.
The term “rail” in this context refers to the bar rail, which is the edge of the bar where customers rest their arms while sitting on a bar stool.
The term “rail gin” became popular because it was usually the type of gin that was kept within easy reach of the bartender, on the bar rail, and was used for making quick and simple mixed drinks such as gin and tonics or gin and sodas.
Is rail gin good?
Rail gin is generally considered to be a less expensive or lower quality gin, as it is often made with lower quality botanicals and less attention to the distilling process than more premium gins.
However, it is still a popular option in many bars and can be a good choice for simple mixed drinks or for those looking for a less expensive alternative to premium gin.
Is rail gin the same as house gin?
Rail gins can also be called by other, similar names depending on the country you’re in. Rail gins are also known as rail spirits, house gin or well gin or call gin.
Here are some other names and definitions for a rail gin or house gin in various countries:
- United Kingdom: In the UK, a rail gin is also referred to as a house gin, well gin, or pour gin.
- United States: In the US, it’s referred to as a rail gin.
- Canada: In Canada, a rail gin is similar to the definition in the US, referring to the cheapest and most commonly used gin in bars and restaurants.
- Australia: In Australia, a rail gin is also called a house gin.
- New Zealand: In New Zealand, a rail gin is the term used.
- France: In France, a rail gin is called gin de service.
- Germany: In Germany, a rail gin is known as the “Hausgin” or “Hausmarke Gin”.
- Spain: In Spain, a rail gin is referred to as a “gin de casa” or “gin de servicio.
- Italy: In Italy, a rail gin is called “gin di servizio” or “gin di casa.
- Japan: In Japan, a rail gin is referred to as a “standard gin” or “mixing gin”.
- Mexico: In Mexico, a rail gin is known as “gin de casa” or “gin de servicio”.
- Brazil: In Brazil, a rail gin is called “gin comum” or “gin simples”.
- Russia: In Russia, a rail gin is known as “баровая джин” or “barovaya dzhin”.
- South Africa: In South Africa, a rail gin is referred to as a “house gin” or “pouring gin”.
- India: In India, a rail gin is called “house gin” or “pouring gin” also.
Overall, the terms and definitions for rail gin or house gin may vary slightly across different countries, but the concept remains the same – it refers to the most affordable and commonly used gin in bars and restaurants for making gin-based cocktails.
Rail Gin Alternatives In Various Countries
|Country||Name for Rail Gin|
|United Kingdom||Rail gin, House gin, Well gin, Pour gin|
|United States||Rail gin, House gin, Well gin, Pour gin|
|Canada||Rail gin, House gin, Well gin, Pour gin|
|Australia||Rail gin, House gin, Well gin|
|New Zealand||Rail gin, House gin, Well gin|
|France||Gin de service|
|Germany||Hausgin, Hausmarke Gin|
|Spain||Gin de casa, Gin de servicio|
|Italy||Gin di servizio, Gin di casa|
|Japan||Standard gin, Mixing gin|
|Mexico||Gin de casa, Gin de servicio|
|Brazil||Gin comum, Gin simples|
|Russia||Баровая джин, Barovaya dzhin|
|South Africa||House gin, Pouring gin|
|India||House gin, Pouring gin|
Why do bars have rail gins?
Having rail gins in a bar benefits both the bartenders and customers.
For the bartenders, rail spirits allow for quicker service – no need to search for that top-shelf bottle.
For customers, a rail gin list can provide a less expensive option for enjoying gin-based drinks. It can also simplify the process of ordering a drink, as customers can simply ask for a cocktail made with the rail gin.
Most Common Rail Gins
What Do Rail Gins Taste Like?
Below are three often-used rail gins and their flavour profile.
Gordon’s Gin: Gordon’s gin has a classic juniper-forward flavour, with hints of citrus and spices. The juniper flavour is quite prominent, which gives it a piney and slightly bitter taste. The citrus notes give it a refreshing and zesty finish.
Beefeater Gin: Beefeater gin has a smooth and well-balanced flavour, with a strong juniper presence that is complemented by notes of citrus and coriander. The juniper is less prominent than in Gordon’s gin, which makes it a good option for those who prefer a less bitter taste.
Tanqueray Gin: Tanqueray gin has a more complex and intense flavour, with a strong juniper taste that is balanced by spicy and floral notes. The juniper flavour is quite bold and gives it a slightly dry and bitter finish, while the other flavours add layers of complexity and depth. Overall, it has a rich and robust flavour profile.
Gins Commonly On The Rail
The 10 gins below can often be found on the rail.
- Bombay Sapphire
- New Amsterdam
Some bars and restuaraunts in the US will feature a locally-made gin as their rail gin.
A few examples are:
- Bluecoat Gin – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Greenhook Ginsmiths – Brooklyn, New York
- St. George Spirits – Alameda, California
- Barr Hill Gin – Hardwick, Vermont
- Dogfish Head Distilling Co. – Milton, Delaware
- Cardinal Spirits – Bloomington, Indiana
- Breckenridge Distillery – Breckenridge, Colorado
- Dry Fly Distilling – Spokane, Washington
- Sipsmith Gin – London, but popular in major US cities
- The Botanist Gin – Isle of Islay, Scotland, but popular in the US due to its unique botanicals and complex flavor profile.
It’s important to remember though that the term “rail gin” does not refer to a specific brand of gin, but rather to the category of gin that is the most basic and inexpensive option available at a bar.
How Much Alcohol (ABV) Is In Rail Gin?
The amount of alcohol in a rail gin is the same as any other gin, typically around 40% alcohol by volume (ABV).
Rail Gin Cocktails & Drinks
Rail gin can be used to make some common cocktails like martinis and gin & tonics, as well as more creative concoctions such as cucumber-infused gin and tonic or lavender gin fizz. There’s no limit to what you can do with rail gins!
When it comes to rail gin cocktails, some of the most popular drinks include the classic Gin & Tonic, Negroni, and Gimlet.
There’s a lot of creative room for variations here – try adding different flavours like basil or lavender, or adding fruit juices and herbs for a unique take on a rail gin cocktail.
Popular Rail Gin Drinks:
- Classic Gin & Tonic
- Lavender Gin Fizz
- Strawberry Basil Gin Spritz
- Cucumber-Infused Gin & Tonic
Popular Rail Gin Cocktails:
- Singapore Sling
- Bee’s Knees
- French 75
- Aviation Cocktail
- Tom Collins
Rail Gin Cocktail Recipes
Gin and Tonic:
- 1.5 oz of rail gin
- 4-6 oz of tonic water
- Lime wedge for garnish
- Fill a tall glass with ice.
- Add the rail gin to the glass.
- Top with tonic water and stir gently.
- Garnish with a lime wedge and serve.
- 1.5 oz of rail gin
- 1 oz of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 0.5 oz of simple syrup
- Club soda
- Lemon wheel for garnish
- Fill a Collins glass with ice.
- Add the rail gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup to the glass.
- Top with club soda and stir gently.
- Garnish with a lemon wheel and serve.
- 1 oz of rail gin
- 1 oz of Campari
- 1 oz of sweet vermouth
- Orange twist for garnish
- Fill a mixing glass with ice.
- Add the rail gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth to the glass.
- Stir well for about 30 seconds.
- Strain the mixture into a rocks glass filled with ice.
- Garnish with an orange twist and serve.
Rail gins may not be the most prestigious or exotic spirits on the market, but they certainly have their place in the world of bartending.
With their affordability and versatility, rail gins make for great mixers in a variety of cocktails and are a staple in many popular drinks.
Whether you’re a seasoned gin aficionado or just looking for a simple yet satisfying drink, don’t overlook the humble rail gin.
Published Mar 13, 2023
Categorized as Blog
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