The 8 Best Substitutes For Genever

What can I use instead of genever? The best substitutes for genever are juniper-based spirits like gin, borovička, juniper liqueur, Cocalero, or juniper-flavored wine. Alternatively, enjoy pine liqueur and akvavit. Zero-alcohol gin is ideal for those avoiding alcohol.

Genever is a Dutch juniper-based spirit that inspired the term “Dutch courage.” Made from distilled, malted, and neutral grain spirits, with added botanicals, genever was the forerunner to gin. Also called genièvre, ginebra, and jenever, this beverage is AOC protected. It is usually drunk neat but can be a cocktail ingredient. Here are the eight best substitutes for genever.

The Best Genever Substitutes


The best substitute for genever is gin.

Genever is referred to as the grandfather of gin, as eighteenth-century British soldiers returning home wished to create the beverage they’d enjoyed in the Netherlands.

The primary difference between gin and genever is that gin is made only from grain, with no malted base like genever. Both have a strongly juniper-forward flavor with a botanical, pine-like taste.

There are endless varieties of gin today, especially with the craft gin revolution. Modern gins are less juniper-based and have other botanical undertones, including citrus, licorice, cinnamon, almond, saffron, and nutmeg.

Many classic nineteenth-century cocktails, like the Gimlet, the Martini, and the Negroni, were originally made with genever and later replaced by gin. It makes sense that you can substitute any genever-based cocktail with gin.

Ideally, replace genever with equal proportions of London Dry Gin, which is light, aromatic, dry, and strongly juniper-flavored, like genever.


Another excellent substitute for genever is borovička.

Borovička is a clear or golden Slovak spirit made with juniper berries. Like genever, it has a robustly pine-like flavor and botanical aroma.

Protected by UN regulations, traditional borovička is made to technical specifications and locality.

This beverage is typically 35% ABV, but 70% ABV varieties are far more potent than genever, especially those distilled in people’s homes.

Borovička is typically drunk neat, like genever, as an aperitif or alongside appetizers.

Replace genever as a sipping beverage with similar quantities of borovička, with the proviso that it may be more alcoholic.

Juniper Liqueur

Try juniper liqueur as a substitute for genever.

Made primarily in Piedmont, Italy, juniper liqueur dates back to the eighteenth century. The base spirit is distilled from molasses, although wine and brandy are also standard.

Juniper berries and other botanicals are then infused into the alcohol. Water and sugar may be added for sweetness.

Juniper liqueur has a robust pine-like flavor, but this is tempered by botanicals, resulting in a bitter, herbaceous undertone.

With an ABV of 40%, juniper liqueur is more potent and sweeter than genever. However, it makes a delicious aperitif either neat or on the rocks. Like genever, it is tasty chilled with tonic.

Substitute juniper liqueur for genever in equal measures.


Enjoy Cocalero as an alternative to genever.

A modern liquor, Cocalero is a herbal spirit made with South American coca leaf and flavored with botanicals like ginseng, guarana, and juniper.

Its name pays homage to Bolivia’s coca farmers and the coca plant’s cultural role.

With a similar flavor profile to botanical gins, Cocalero is versatile and complex. Enjoy the fresh green tea undertones, which give way to more robust herbal flavors, including hints of juniper.

Cocalero can replace gin or genever in most cocktails, including tiki-style and fruit cocktails, adding an exotic and unique twist. Also, enjoy it ice-cold as a sipping beverage.

Replace genever with the same amount of Cocalero.

Juniper-Flavored Wine

For a lighter touch, try juniper-flavored wine as a genever alternative.

Flavored wines have become popular, with chocolate Cabernet a typical example. Juniper-flavored white wine is a delightful, light beverage with a fresh, fruity flavor and a slightly bitter undertone.

Several brands are producing juniper-flavored wine, particularly Junique, a Greek creation. Junique combines white wine and juniper extract as an aperitif, chilled or on the rocks.

Juniper-flavored wine is a gorgeous cocktail ingredient, especially when combined with sparkling wine or gin.

Drink juniper-flavored wine instead of genever when you want to enjoy the same flavor, but with a meal.

Pine Liqueur

An unusual replacement for genever is pine liqueur.

Also called pine brandy or schnapps, pine liqueur is a pink spirit distilled from the Alpine stone pine tree’s fruit (pine cones). The flavor is smokey and dry, with a complex, minty finish.

This Austrian beverage is enjoyed chilled, served neat, with tonic, or with soda. Typically, pine liqueur forms part of après-ski, hiking, or mountaineering gatherings. It has a delightful festive flavor.

Although pine liqueur does not contain juniper, the pine-forward flavor is similar.

Enjoy pine liqueur instead of genever as a digestif or aperitif, in the exact quantities.


Substitute akvavit for genever.

Akvavit or aquavit is translated as water of life. It refers to a dry, distilled spirit flavored with aromatics and botanicals.

This beverage has been made throughout Scandinavia since the fifteenth century. Ingredients include fermented grain or potato mash, citrus, dill, or spices like caraway, cumin, cardamom, or fennel seeds.

About 43% ABV, this spirit is clear and generally not aged, except in Norway, where it is aged in sherry casks and turns golden yellow. Although it is not flavored with juniper, it has a similarly savory, herbaceous flavor.

Scandinavians drink akvavit exactly as genever is traditionally enjoyed, from a tulip-shaped glass accompanied by beer, crackers, and pickled fish. (The combination is called a kopstootje or headbutt in Dutch.)

Replace genever with akvavit as a sipping beverage or aperitif. You can also use it in cocktails like the Negroni or French 75. Create a Nordic sidecar, a Bjorn Collins, or drink it with tonic water.

Use akvavit as a 1:1 substitute for genever.

Zero-Alcohol Gin

Zero-alcohol gin is a practical alcohol-free substitute for genever.

Several non-alcoholic gin alternatives have a gin-like depth of flavor, warmth, and botanical aroma. They even have delightful juniper undertones and floral notes.

You can use non-alcoholic gin as a direct replacement for gin or genever in cocktails or as a sipping beverage.

Replace genever with the same quantity of zero-alcohol gin.