Cocktail drinkers desiring a taste of Mexico seldom head for the gin aisle. That’s about to change, as Las Californias—a duet of new gins distilled in Mexico—increasingly pops up in cocktail glasses across the country.
Many gin distillers look to their own local regions when seeking botanical inspiration, and the makers of Las Californias have an impressive region to draw from. Las Californias covers the long, cross-border Pacific Coast region from Baja California to the Bay Area. With a topography ranging from arid desert to evergreen forests, and including some of the richest agricultural land in the world, this stretch of California and Mexico has long influenced the ways we eat and drink. Keeping it local, both gins are flavored with California juniper, a slightly sweeter variety than the more regularly encountered common juniper, grown in a small region between Hollywood and Baja’s Ojos Negros Valley.
The area’s natural history stretches back millennia before human interaction, of course, and Las Californias Nativo aims to present the aromas and flavors found in the region long ago. Endemic botanicals such as white sage, kelp, Californian hops, and yerba santa contribute to make a gin that’s earthy and savory, with an herbaceous aroma and a refreshing finish.
Las Californias Cítrico, in contrast, aims at the more modern makeup of the territory shaped by successive waves of migration and agriculture. Almonds, apricots, grape vines and leaves, citrus leaves and peels, and lemongrass all contribute complexity to this gin, with a bright, citrusy fragrance and a lush finish.
Whichever Las Californias gin you reach for, it’s certain to rev up your next round of Negronis. $36, lascalifornias.com