In 1954 the Haas Brothers created and launched Royal Gate Vodka and Royal Gate Gin. The gate in this case is the Golden Gate Bridge.
The gin begins as Royal Gate Vodka. It is distilled from grain and carbon filtered. The gin adds a scant four botanicals, all of which are quite common in gin: coriander, lemon and cinnamon— in addition to the requisite juniper.
However, inexpensive or cheap it might seem, it has an interesting cultural history in the San Francisco area. The Haas Brothers’ company dates back to 1851 and the launch of Royal Gate Gin was designed to fill a gap in the local market for an affordable, fairly priced gin. It is still found in wells at bars across San Francisco— and in the streets. So many of these small plastic bottles dot the streets of the mission that one blogger dubbed the micro-hood as “Royal Gate.”
The nose is softly juniper and coriander, sour lemon with a trace of ethanol. It’s not quite fusel— or even specifically unpleasant. It’s just present and noticeable.
To the palate Royal Gate is unusual among inexpensive gins that I get a hint of creamy grain. Juniper is the dominant flavor however, peaking strongly on the palate mid-taste. It’s sharp and pine-forward. Like the aroma of freshly powdered juniper berry and cassia bark. The finish is terse. Royal Gate Gin burns out quickly with a bitter astringency that leaves a bit of heat in the back of the throat— but not much character.
Royal Gate Gin is designed to be a bartender’s well pour. In that degree, it’s functional. It’s best performance is in a Gin and Tonic with a sweet counterpoint such as Schweppes.
But beyond that, I find Royal Gate Gin to be a bit weak in a Negroni (save its warmth) and a bit too harsh for a Martini. But to be fair— that’s not the target cocktail for Royal Gate.
Overall, Royal Gate Gin
Royal Gate Gin is an acceptable— if underwhelming— bargain priced gin. Classic Gin fans will find enough juniper to recognize it, but its harsh taste and short finish do little to warrant a recommendation beyond “it will do in a pinch.”
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