If the grey, British skies of January are bringing out your latent wanderlust or simply reminding you that travel is a necessity, you’ll love these ginspired holidays!
While England is most famously associated with gin, it (rather surprisingly) neither consumes nor produces the majority of it. As dedicated gin fans, we’re prepared to take that bullet and go and research these gin-based, potential holiday destinations, just to make sure that we’re fully informed… Seriously, what could be better than a gin-themed holiday?
An archipelago of thousands of islands, the Philippines has vast rainforests, beautiful beaches and the odd UNESCO world heritage site. This Southeast Asian country also drinks the most gin of any nation in the world! On average, each adult consumes just under a litre and a half of gin every year and that number is only growing as craft and artisanal gins enter the Filipino market! Gin’s drunk less as a G&T and more commonly as the base of some fantastically innovative cocktail, with the most popular gin being Ginebra San Miguel.
Metro Manila (the country’s capital) has recently been graced by its very first gin lounge The Bon Bon Club. With all of the atmosphere and styling of a low-key, contemporary speakeasy (think bejewelled deer heads rather than fake shop fronts and passwords), The Bon Bon Club is a cool, intimate setting for some truly fabulous drinks. Using a healthy range of 43 gins to make a selection of classic and original cocktails, the bar has a very impressive menu bursting with homemade syrups and flourishes.
America likes its gin! That much we know but it’s such an immense country that it’s nigh on impossible to choose one area that does our favourite spirit better than everywhere else. So we’ve decided that the No1 gin holiday location in America is Portland. It’s simple, while the city’s famed for its craft beer, Portland is home to some truly excellent small-batch craft spirits and it’s the place where the very concept of the New Western Gin was born! Aiming for a botanical democracy, Aviation was created as a clear and distinct move away from traditional, juniper dominated gin and has inspired a multitude of producers and distillers, worldwide, to do the same!
The Liquor Store (not an actual shop) is a well-known music venue with the most incredible gin and tonics. Carefully built and immaculately garnished, the G&Ts are more than just about the taste, they’re a full sensory experience! Made using everything from fresh fruit, flowers, spices and tonic syrups, The Liquor Store creates drinks that are as beautiful as they are engaging. The House Spirits Tasting Room is also a must see for a sneaky peek into its iconic company beverages.
While blue skies and sunny climes are not the first thing you think of when it comes to Scotland, Scotland, it really is one of the most important countries in gin! Some giants of the industry (that little green bottle is one) and a whole raft of independent, small batch, handcrafted distilled gins created there. It makes around 70% of all of the gin produced in the UK thanks to the country’s well known distilling heritage. Scottish small-batch gins tend towards the warming, aromatic flavours.
There are many, fabulous gin bars outside of Edinburgh but with over 250 gins and a range of tonic waters and cocktails, it’s hard to find a better bar than 56 North that’s so heavily focussed on juniper. Nestled in Edinburgh’s Old Town, 56 North has a superbly wide appeal with a cosy yet relaxed air and lovely grub. Better than just serving gin, these guys thrown regular masterclasses so that you can keep up to date with your gin and cocktail knowledge. The Scottish gin and cheese pairings alone are worth the trip!
Gin owes everything it has to Holland. Without the national Dutch drink jenever (the rich and smoky, juniper spirit distilled from malt wine) British soldiers would never have seen their Dutch counterparts have a shot before battle, become determined to recreate this “Dutch Courage” and instigated the Gin Craze. That’s a very short description of gin’s history but Holland really is so important to gin. So much so that it’d be a travesty if you were a fan of gin and never had the opportunity to try jenever!
In jenever’s own history tasting houses (owned by distilleries), small measures of jenever would be filled to the brim of a glass, sipped with the glass on the bar and then drunk. There would be free samples of everything that a distillery had to offer. These days, you do have to pay but it’s still an exciting opportunity to sample! One of the best places that does this is Wynand Fockink. Established more than 250 years ago they no longer distil on the premises but do offer an incredibly authentic (and delicious) range of jenevers and liqueurs. With Bols distillery only moments away, it’s perfectly located for a good, old-fashioned bit of gin geekery.
Spain is wholly responsible for the contemporary Gin Craze that we’re all relishing so much. With elegant and custom designed glassware, immaculately matched garnishes, a range of tonics and an emphasis on fresh and exciting gins made from the highest quality products, Spain does it perfectly! So well, that the rest of the world is now aping it, and Spanish style is the style in which to serve gin. (It just so happens to be our own preferred method of making a G&T).
There are too many incredible gin bars in Spain to name them all, and that’s not including the cocktail bars that specialise in gin drinks. There is nowhere else like it on earth. Spain is undoubtedly the pilgrimage to make for any true gin lover. We strongly recommend Xix Bar in Barcelona. it’s quirky styling, incredible range of gins, wonderful shops and strict adherence to the perfect serve make it the perfect bar!
It's always worth exploring the side streets and hunting down your favourite, new gin. Let us know about the best gin bar you’ve found!
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6 O'Clock Gin is our Gin of the Month, so we sat down with Michael Kain, head distiller at Bramley and Gage, to chat about this superb modern gin.
If you are a bit of gin lover or interested in finding a gin that you really like then the Gin Festival would be a perfect event for you.