Is there an old man sitting next to you, making love to his tonic and gin? Ask him if he’s ever tried the stuff from Empire Spirits Project. This distillery revels in masterfully redefining gin’s occasionally stodgy presence… Instead of an only-slightly-more-drinkable-version of your grandpa’s cologne, Empire Spirits concocts a subtle, delicate botanical bouquet. Like another well-known Project, Empire Spirits is based in Manhattan—in this case, though, any efforts at fusion produce undoubtedly good results. Take their Smoked Gin: signature ingredient juniper is included, but only after treatment with some gently smoldering applewood for a pleasantly smudged entry onto your tastebuds. Notes of caraway and peppercorn complete the transformation: out with the bad spirits, in with the good!