We’ve been on the gin diet recently, so far we’ve lost three days.
It is the quintessentially British drink that was once forgotten. Year upon year more and more micro-distilleries are opening, more gin bars are cutting the big red ribbon and gin is on the rise to beat vodka in the race to be the spirit of the age. Liverpool – a city well known for its spirit but the only difference is this time it doesn’t half go well with tonic. The world has gone gin mad as the spirit makes a ‘resurgince’ (took us half a day to come up with that). Gin cocktails, desserts and even ice lollies, yeah they’re a thing and God bless whoever made them. It seems as though each alcoholic drink awaits its turn to become the poster child. Whisky has just had its turn for the deep-pocketed amongst us, craft beer has gone from strength to strength and gin waited quietly on the sidelines in 2015 before taking the world by a tonic flavoured storm.
Gin is filling pretty much everything but the taps in Liverpool at the moment but the big question is why? Gin isn’t anything new, the juniper-based tipple has evolved over the course of a millennium. Well, no doubt a lot of this is down to the guys behind Liverpool Gin, the most delicious form of localism and one hell of a way to lose a weekend. Within the same summer, two gin bars and a gin garden opened up and a gin journey has just launched so we decided to catch up with all of them in an attempt to find out what it is about gin that people are going so mad for. Once described as the scourge of 18th century society, gin is back and it looks like it’s going to be gin o’clock all year round.
Open just for the summer period, Botanical Garden was Liverpool’s most elusive, intriguing and exciting project in ages. The whole thing was sworn under secrecy and you could only talk about it whilst whispering. An urban wonderland with lots of greenery where the plants are the only thing sticking to water. It was the quintissential British garden full of deck chairs and gin and tonics but not as you’d expect it. Here’s what the Botanical Gardeners had to say:
“A Gin & Tonic is synonymous with the British summer time, and just as welcome. In 2015, the drink has never tasted better: a proliferation of botanically gifted gins and quality tonics, together with increased awareness from bartenders over how to make a good one (copious amounts of ice & a properly wrung wedge of citrus). It seemed only right that we should add a bit of al fresco excitement to the mix, and the Baltic Triangle was the only option to do it. We hope you liked it, we’ll hopefully be back next year.”
What was once The Side Door Bistro on Hope Street is now ‘Jenever’, a gin bar influenced by the prohibition era where they specialise in gin afternoon tea. What was once fine dining through the big red door is soon to be an underground emporium of gin. Expect a speakeasy feel, dim light, bluesy jazz and a whole lot of gin. Deciding to change The Side Door was a big move as they’ve got such a cult following but they feel a new direction will be good for them and the city. Here’s what the owners had to say:
“After attending the World Gin Day event at the Palmhouse in 2014 we could see the resurgence in the popularity of gin and that Liverpool needed a gin bar to rival those in London, Barcelona and many other cities of the world. We were looking out for a venue for a while then we realised we already had the place- our restaurant The Side Door on Hope St. We will start with around 50 gins- such as Dodd’s and Jensen’s from London, Liverpool Organic (naturally!), Gin Mare and Xoriguer Mahon from Spain, Dorothy Parker American Gin and Dutch Jenever which is the original juniper based spirit that led to the creation of gin.”
Le Bateau was an absolute institution in the Liverpool night scene and has been left empty for a few years now. Luckily for the city, Cedar Gin & Fire gave the building a lick of paint and a lot of love opened up in June. Whilst navigating through the space you can relive memories of the predecessors but with a gin in your hand. They’ve travelled the world in search of the best gins and the guys behind it have buckets of passion. Here’s what they had to say:
“We will be stocking thirty gins, to begin with. Some that will be very familiar, some that very few people will have tried. As the bar grows so will our list. Eventually we’re hoping to have over a hundred. We’d be very surprised if by that point there isn’t at least one gin for everyone. We chose Gin because we felt that It would be a new angle for bars in Liverpool. 81Ltd, Berry and Rye etc have got whisky covered so we thought we’d give the public a different choice. Gin is extremely versatile. The possibilities when it comes to creating cocktails and matching fruit and herb garnishes are enormous. Because of the unique botanical make up of each different Gin they all provide a slightly different taste and that’s something we wanted to explore. People can expect gins they’ve never tasted or heard of, mind blowing cocktails with ingredients you might never have though to put in a drink before hand. But most of all a smashing G&T.”
Liverpool has a gin and it’s called, yes you guessed it, Liverpool Gin. It is becoming quite popular throughout Liverpool and with good reason too. If you’ve had the pleasure of tasting it, you’ll know why. It is crisp, flavourful and there’s a certain romanticism knowing it was made within our very own city. It isn’t just well known within the radius of Liverpool though, it has attracted the attention of the big boys and is stocked in Harvey Nicholls. Last year they won gold and silver medals at international blind tasting tests of spirits and show no sign of stopping. You’ll find it at Lunya and R&H Fine Wine’s if you fancy taking it away but loads of restaurants throughout Liverpool. Here’s what John O’Dowd, founder of Liverpool Gin, had to say:
“Liverpool Gin started in the middle of 2012 following a conversation between myself and Mark Hensby. Between then and 2013, we spent all that time coming up with a taste, look and a presentation. Starting out we had no idea what kind of gin we wanted to make but we knew which kind of gin we didn’t want to make. It has always been my favourite drink and it is great to see the rise in popularity. Vodka has kind of had its day in the sun and after 10-15 years of it outselling other spirits, gin is on the rise. In the United States just a few years ago there were only 100 micro distillers and now there are over 1000. We’re releasing two new gins on world gin day on June 13th, we’ll leave the surprise until then but tickets will be out next week.”
No need to call Specsavers or alter your screen, there is such a thing as a gin journey and you need to go on one. Ran by ‘Shake, Rattle and Stir’, the guys and girls behind it have formed a crack team of gin commandos and created a set of astounding gin events to educate and inspire and bring the finest gin fun to you. Go on a journey of your city through the wonders of gin and try exclusive cocktails at Liverpool’s best bars. Ride from each bar to in a unique gin carriage and well, need we say anymore? Get your tickets here.
Here’s what they had to say:
“We at Shake, Rattle and Stir are wild about gin, loco about cocktails and insanely in love with Britain so we wanted to bring these three wonderful things together to create a set of utterly unique experiences. We aim to showcase the finest gin the world has to offer and supply the tastiest drinks the mind can fathom. Enjoy.”