Junípero

While vodka has been the spirits superstar for quite some time, classic quaffs like gin are making a comeback with the help of high-end bottlings like Junípero, produced by the San Francisco–based Anchor Distilling Co. In 1993, the distillery was added to Anchor Steam's brewery, which dates to 1896, as "a natural extension of brewing," according to John Dannerbeck, director of sales and marketing. Distilling is the same thing as brewing except "you ferment grain and put it in a still instead of a bottle to concentrate it. "We consider Junípero to be in the style of London Dry gin," says Dannerbeck, because juniper is the primary flavor of Junípero (pronounced Spanish-style with an aspirated J), which is made in copper stills with 12 botanicals. The gin's unique cognac-shaped bottle, intense juniper flavor, and $40-plus retail price are creating a buzz on the Seattle market. Ben Dougherty, owner of the Zig Zag Cafe on the Pike Street Hill Climb, has poured Junípero since he bought the bar two and half years ago. He prefers to use it only in martinis ($11) because "it's pricier, unique, and deserves to be enjoyed on its own." Over at Ibiza, the swank new Nuevo Latino–inspired supper club in Pioneer Square, bar manager Dennis Brand muddles cucumber in a Junípero martini, priced at $14. "It's a beautiful bottle and a great presentation," he says, adding that people don't seem to mind that it's not imported. "I always tell people who don't like gin that 'There's a little gin drinker inside of you waiting to get out, you just don't know it.'" With production of Junípero at less than 10,000 cases a year, your inner gin drinker might want to make a beeline to the bar to sample this one. Those who think their own way with a martini's best can pick up a bottle to experiment with at the state liquor stores on Mercer Island or at University Village and in the Uptown neighborhood in Seattle.

 
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