A gin we can all be thankful for.
By Meaghan Dorman
Photographs by Nick Eveleigh
Imagine it’s time for the perfect post work drink. Now imagine that the booze has been crafted to your specifications and the bottle sports your name. That’s what Martin Miller did after drinking one too many subpar Gin & Tonics. The hotelier and antiques collector teamed up with two friends to create a spirit that fashioned sensational versions of the two category benchmarks—the G&T and the Martini.
A longtime gin lover, Martin was distressed to see vodka gaining so much market share in the 1990s. He stuck to his usual G&T because of “two words: flavor and complexity. With gin you drink the contents, not the label. Why is it always the simple and crude that overwhelms the sophisticated and complex?” Aiming to put the mojo back in the category, Miller combed the world for the best ingredients. Tuscan juniper, Chinese cassia bark, French Angelica root, and Florentine iris were distilled, then combined with Icelandic glacier water, creating the smooth but intricate gin Miller lusted after.
In the early 2000s, Miller embraced the rising cocktail culture and crafted a gin for it. While pockets of bartenders in London and New York sought out forgotten recipes, Miller created Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength. It’s distilled to a higher proof (90) than traditional gins, and has a peppery kick that shines through in elaborate cocktails. But of course, it pleases its creator and makes a mean G&T.
Miller loves to share his spirit with the fairer sex, but he’ll end a date if the lady makes a boring cocktail choice. “If she even considers asking for a vodka Cosmo I’d show her the door,” he says. “That whole Sex and the City thing is so uncool and so unsexy—seduction by shotgun! For me, gin is the most seductive of spirits, but seductive in that sassy, witty, and sophisticated way of the greats, like Dorothy Parker, who famously enjoyed a Martini or two.” When turning a lady to the juniper side, Miller suggests a Southside to do the trick—a mix of lime, mint, and gin that’s similar to a Mojito, but with a crisper edge.
Miller is happy to see his gamble paying off. “It’s great to see gin turn the corner, and I’m proud to have my name on the bottle.” As an everyday drinker of his product, he knows it stands up in the market, and he works praising the juniper spirit into his globe-trotting ways. As he says of his accessibility, “You won’t get Mr. Hendrick on speed dial!”