Gin Cocktails: Timeless Classic

Fever-Tree on-trade marketing manager Luke Benson says: “We are seeing more bars with G&T tasting flights where you get a selection of tonics, selection of gins and garnishes to mix your own combinations and more places with G&T menus.” 

According to Benson, the vast majority of all gin is drunk with tonic – in the UK, the William Grant UK Market Report 2014 says more than 90%: “So anybody creating a gin needs to make sure it pairs well with a quality tonic water. It’s hard to make a gin that works in every cocktail, so most brands will have a signature serve – usually they will try to get a balance between something your consumer can make at home but remains interesting for a bartender to make.”

The menu

When considering which gin cocktails to put on its drinks menu, the team at Bramble individually presents drinks in front of the rest of the staff and only the best make the list. “We are fairly strict, so of 20 drinks presented we may only put two new drinks on. Our major criterion is quality,” the bar manager says. 

At Nottingham Forest (#15 Best Bar in the World), the most requested gin cocktail is the Martini. The Milan bar has an entire menu dedicated to gin, with 101 variants derived from bar manager and owner Dario Comini’s My Favourite’s [sic] 101 book. “Consumers’ palates are growing constantly more refined and a number of interesting new drinks are emerging to cater to them.” 

But, when asked for his predictions on the future of gin cocktails, Comini says the classic drinks will continue to dominate the scene for many years to come.

Back in Blighty, at The World’s 50 Best Bar #3 Nightjar, director Edmund Weil might not have gone as far as including 101 Martinis on his menu, but he does stress: “A gin that does not stand up in a Martini might as well pack up and go home. 

“A Martini is the ultimate classic cocktail for a reason and a benchmark for any self-respecting bar/bartender.” The Dry Martini is a huge seller from the London bar’s off-menu orders. 

At Nightjar, reimagined cocktails grace the menu. No 3 gin with sandalwoodis its version of the Prohibition-era Amarosa cocktail, as well as some more experimental serves such as Beyond the Sea with Gin Mare in its Signature Section. The best-selling drink is The London Mule with Tanqueray. A long drink served in a wooden tankard, Kamm & Sons ginseng spirit is among the popular drinks ingredients. “It’s definitely one of those drinks where people see it on the pass and say ‘I want one of those’”, Weil says. 

When creating a gin, mixability is of great importance. For Hayman’s director Miranda Hayman, the challenge is to try to get consumers to be more experimental at home and make Martinis and Negronis in the same way they would make a G&T. “We are seeing this in the US where it is more common for cocktails such as a Tom Collins or a Martini to be made at home,” Hayman says.

The future 

“The gin category two years ago was very different to how it is today. We believe the gin renaissance and trend for gin cocktails has a good few more years left until it peaks.” Pressed for a number, Hayman responded: five. “In the UK, it is nearing its peak, whereas other markets are just beginning. There is still some way to go. Once it has peaked we believe it will still remain a popular spirit, but that growth in the category will level out.”

At Beefeater, global brand ambassador Tim Stones isn’t as forthright with his predictions. “It is all a bit eclectic at the moment. Beefeater has been around for so long because it is so versatile. Gin is a popular cocktail choice because of its versatility. It is complex and can go with a light and refreshing drink or the other extreme.”

Duff adds: “[Gin] really ticks all the boxes: classic cocktail ingredient, has a huge back catalogue of major drinks such as the G&T and Martini and offers very good value for money at every tier, from value to super-premium.” 

And Duff’s predictions for the future? “I think we’ll see gin Martinis overtake the vodka Martini, at least for the cognoscenti, and we’ll see more and more gins being made specifically for gin classics such as the G&T, Negroni, French 75 or Martini.”

Many drinks trends are as quickly out of vogue as they were en. But one thing is for sure, the classics have earned their right to be named just that, and are not going anywhere any time soon.