Top brands , the best gin bars and tonics that make the cut — our guide to the beverage, ahead of World Gin Day
If you’re a certified ginthusiast, you’ve probably booked your tickets for the Scottish Juniper Festival this weekend. The celebration in Edinburgh, that ends on World Gin Day (June 14), is trumped only by a trip to The Gin Garden, where 300 varieties of gin await. And while the UK will spoil you for choice with other events like ace bartender Leon Dalloway’s Gin Voyage, we Indians (who should really consider celebrating a Bhaang or Toddy Day) have to make do with a solitary gin bar in Mumbai. Thankfully, some of our beverage specialists share notes on the places to visit and brands to stock, if you wish to kiss your vodka goodbye.
@ The gin bar
At the country’s only gin bar, Arola at JW Marriott, Mumbai, executive bartender Bensan Varghese says they exhaust at least 12 bottles of gin every week. He recommends Monkey 47 that is said to have been made using 47 botanicals from the Amazon.
He would start you off with gin and tonic (garnished with anything from cucumber to flamed oranges depending on the gin used) before introducing your palate to 20 plus cocktails, all made with gin, of course. Rs 800 onwards. Details: 66933622
beverage manager at Park Hyatt Chennai, feels that gin is best enjoyed on ice
You can substitute the cucumber with two rose petals for aroma. In fact, gin can be infused with any flavour. We are getting a lot of orders for classics like the Tom Collins — that too from the younger crowd — and we use up to three bottles a week at our bar. If you’re in Mumbai, visit this bar called Ellipsis. It has a good collection of gins from around the world. And if you’re a fan of classic gin — with only the flavour of juniper berries — go for the ones from London. For something with a wider bouquet, try Scottish brand Hendrick’s.
is co-founder of Tulleeho, the bar school that developed the Jamuntini
London is definitely the place to be for a gin drinker. A must-visit is the Sipsmith distillery that is at the forefront of the craft gin movement. For a classic London dry gin, try Beefeater. If you’re in Amsterdam, you must try their Jenever style of gin. You get it in most bars and there are many brands to choose from. In the US, visit St. George Spirits in the island of Alameda. The distillery has a reputation for making fine craft spirits. Hendrick’s is what I would suggest for a straight up drink or with tonic. It is infused with rose petals and is unique.
the founder of The Vault, organised a ‘speed tasting’ of beverages, including two boutique gins, at Chennai’s Taj Coromandel this week
Gin is going through a revival worldwide. In Spain it is everybody’s drink. I rank Barcelona’s Bobby Gin number one among the bars I visited there. It is the most dedicated and creative gin bar I have come across. For old-school martinis, head to Dry Martini, also in Barcelona and for something in between, try getting yourself an invite to Mutis, one of the most secretive bars in Barcelona that’s tucked away in an apartment. Spain is also the place where you will have access to 100 different tonics. UK’s Whistling Shop on Worship Street is another favourite. They have a micro distillery and make their own gin. At The Vault we have Sipsmith, Citadelle, Williams Chase and Gin Mare.
executive chef and partner at Monkey Bar, is particular about the tonic he uses with his gin
Fever-Tree is an outstanding tonic that really does justice to gin. Visit the micro distilleries in London, Berlin and New York. They also have great brands and I recommend Monkey 47, a small-batch production from Germany. Among the mainstream, I suggest Sipsmith and Tanquerade No 10 that are widely available. Be sure to do a tasting at the distillery of Sipsmith in London, and if you’re in Berlin, head to Kreuzberg. They have a food market every Thursday where there’s a bar that sells only gin. There are also a lot of pop up restaurants there.
sommelier, says he would drink gin over vodka any day
If you’re going for a Schweppes tonic, try the cans as they are less sweet than the bottles. Besides Fever-Tree, there are boutique handmade tonics (like the Small Batch tonic by American Jack Rudy Cocktail Co) that are as expensive as the gin. But they are not available in India. The gins I’ve been trying are Sipsmith and Oxley. Bombay Sapphire is a popular neutral gin. I enjoy the Tanquerade No 10 because it is a complex blend with peppery notes.