The Gin Room inside Cafe Natasha in St. Louis, MO, carries more than 300 gins. “But it’s less about quantity of gin, because we have an extremely education-focused bar, and love to teach and educate guests,” says the bar’s self-proclaimed “Gin Girl” Natasha Bahrami.
To do so, she stocks a botanical library of about 50 different distillates of scents to bring customers into the many possibilities gin offers.
“If someone says they don’t like juniper, we’ll put a little dab on their hand and ask them to smell it and say, ‘Are you sure it’s juniper you don’t like?,’ and often it’s not the case,” Bahrami says.
Her massive menu is broken down into categories of gin: savory warm spice, floral bouquet, citrilcious, pine forest, barrel-aged and naval strength. So Sipsmith gin, for example, is described as “juniper and pine nose, smooth lemon grapefruit citrus”; Bulldog as “London Dry, floral nose, mellow drinkability, long on fruit, warm spice.”
This sort of guide provides guests with a sense of security about what they order, Bahrami says. The Gin Room also pairs house-made tonics, using lavender, hibiscus and other ingredients, with different gins.
“They show off how tonic can elevate the different segments of the flavor spectrum of gin,” she says.
For example, “Our lavender-sage tonic we pair with junipery and savory gins, while the spring lemongrass, orange blossom and apricot tonic we pair with more citrus forward gins,” Bahrami explains. “Doing it this way helps people ease into a new way of looking at gin and tonic.”
Jack Robertiello is a beverage alcohol writer and spirits judge based in Brooklyn, NY.