value pricing and large formats, and
a new premium gin market led by
bartenders and new products. “People
are challenging the boundaries of what
gin can and should be,” he says. “If you
just looked at the broad brush view of
the gin market you’d be discouraged
from introducing anything new. But a
brand like Hendrick’s deserves credit
for challenging what gin was about,
and its growth probably is what gives
one encouragement to bring a new gin
into the market.”
In the last few years, new gins like
Hendrick’s and Citadelle grew more in-
teresting to bartenders, and those from
America’s many micro-distillers started
to grab precious bar and shelf space.
Brands like Bulldog, Nolet’s and Farm-
er’s Organic came to market with slight
twists—Bulldog with the inclusion of
lotus and poppyseed; Nolet’s with roses,
peaches and raspberries; Farmer’s with
elderflower, lemongrass and an organic
hook. Even the “skinny” craze has hit
the gin world—Slim Gin, made from
14 botanicals and bottled at 60 proof,
claims to have 25% fewer calories than
most brands, 48 calories per serving.
One of the pioneers of the less juniper-
forward American-made gins, Aviation,
made by House Spirits, recently gained
placement in nearly 50 Kimpton Hotel
restaurant units, know for quality din-
ing and advanced cocktail concepts.
As most of the brands focus on
selling their wares by attracting
the key driver of super-premium
spirits—the American bartender—the
fight is intensified. That’s because
the contemporary interest in gin is
almost entirely underpinned by the
cocktail renaissance.
Where once the biggest brands
could be expected to dominate a
drink menu, bartenders now seek to
incorporate the many gin flavor pro-
files into their house recipes. Led by
the example of less junipery gins, the
recent explosion of small distiller
brands and gin-ish botanical spirits
has started to crowd the back bar. At
popular cocktail-centric places like
Saxon + Parole in Manhattan, upwards
of 15 gins are prominently displayed
and many used in the often-changing
drink menu.
This complicates things for the big
gin makers, as the opportunity to domi-
nate a menu with one gin is past. Not
surprisingly, the giant brands (primar-
ily Beefeater, Bombay and Tanqueray
on-premise, with the addition of Sea-
gram’s off-premise) have fought back to
protect their share of the category.
Bombay added Bombay Sapphire
East, made with lemongrass and black
pepper, and to bolster production has
unveiled plans for its own distillery that
should be operating by summer 2013.
(The brand has long been produced
at G&J Greenall in the northwest
of England.)
Mixology is driving the current gin
buzz. Left, the relaunch of Tanqueray
Malacca this spring at The Dead Rabbit
in lower Manhattan. Right, Hendrick’s
is among the newer brands that have
earned the tag “bartender’s gin.”
Bombay Sapphire East counts lemongrass
among its exotic botanicals.
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