By Carl Hanson

Aromatic and potent, gin is also versatile, which makes it one of the great spirits for building cocktails. Here we look at some of the classic gin cocktails.

Crystal Clear Martini | Photo by Meredith

Gin is a grain-based liquor is flavored with juniper berries, which explains the name -- gin comes from the Dutch word for juniper, jenever -- and the fact that gins often taste vaguely of a conifer forest. It's pedigree dates back to the 1650s, when a Dutch doctor first distilled it as an elixir for calming the stomach and stimulating the appetite. Take two martinis and call me in the morning!

Favorite Martini Recipes

If the martini is the king of cocktails, then gin is the crown of juniper it wears upon its head. The martini is simple, in theory. Just three ingredients: a whisper of vermouth, some gin, and an olive (or twist of lemon). But there are many subtle variations on this basic theme. How much vermouth is appropriate? There is much debate. Some recipes are playfully averse to it, recommending, say, pouring a generous portion of gin into a shaker while a friend walks past waving a vermouth bottle at you. Here are just a few of the more traditional takes on the king of cocktails.

Other Ginned-Up Favorites

Of course, there's more to gin than martinis. Consider the gin and tonic. It's a classic summer drink -- so refreshing. But that wasn't the only reason that the colonial English drank G and T's in sunny, hot India: quinine in the tonic water kept malaria at bay. And the gin helped the medicine go down in the most delightful way. Here are a few delicious gin-based drinks:

Gimlet | Photo by Meredith

Quick Cocktail-Making Tip: It's the Ice! The best tasting cocktails use fresh ice made from pure, filtered water. "Fresh" means the cubes haven't been sitting around for weeks in the freezer soaking up the stale, flavor essences of long-lingering foods. Make it the morning of the day you plan to mix your cocktails, and you'll enjoy the freshest, most delicious cocktails.

Booze Foods

Add a little ring-a-ding-ding to the ol' dining thing. A porterhouse and a martini made the perfect power lunch -- back in, oh, the late 1950s. We think the time is right to bring it back into fashion. P.S. Not advised during the work week.

Grilled Steaks with Sauteed Mushrooms | Photo by Meredith

Check out our collection of Gin Cocktails.