For years gin was known as ‘mother’s ruin’. Not anymore.
Younger people are developing a taste for gin.
Gin has had a revival. It’s becoming the sociable tipple, as specialist gin bars are on the rise, the varieties of gin on the market has grown, and pop up events to celebrate gin such as gin jamborees, now run in Staffordshire and Cheshire.
General manager at Ten Green Bottles in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Richard Hancock, says that since opening the bar he’s noticed an unexpected change in the age-range of his customers. “I am surprised at the amount of young people we are getting in,” he explains. “When we first opened we had a lot of middle-aged couples, and men who came in for the craft beers.”
Ten Green Bottles has become increasingly popular as a gin bar. Selling over 60 different types of gin. They also retail craft beers from the UK, America, Belgium and Germany.
The company is a family run business, that was looking for a way to get back into the bar trade. Richard says: “It’s something a bit different, gin was upcoming and there was nothing like this around here. It has really taken off.
“Everyone’s drinking it. Craft gins are becoming more popular and more accessible.”
Last year a survey by consumer trends agency Mintel, found that 42% of Brits aged 18-34 had drunk gin in the past 12 months, compared to 27% of over 45-year-olds.
And according to the latest figures from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association this year bars, pubs and retailers sold the largest volume of gin on record – with sales over £1 billion.
“We get a good mix of customers, but a younger demographic especially at the weekend,” says Richard, whose niche bar is part of this resurgence. “I have found that a lot of younger people, girls especially, come in at the weekend, and then move onto somewhere else as we close at 9:30pm.”
Richard himself has had no particular training to develop his knowledge of gin. He says: “It’s all down to research and taste, what might work well. We’ve done a lot of experimenting here through taste and trying different flavours. Some gins even offer ‘a perfect serve’ on the bottle.”
“I try to tell the customers that ask me to recommend them a gin, that it all depends on individual taste. I like to talk the customer through it when I can. Do they prefer something sweeter or something drier?”.
Gin is essentially vodka, flavoured with juniper berries, and botanicals. And it comes in three broad types London Dry, standard and premium. London Dry have a strict amount of botanicals and a certain percentage of juniper berries to make them London Dry.
Gin is highly associated with Gordon’s, a standard London Dry. “People in this country especially think that,” says Richard. “For the last 100 years that’s all Brits have been used too. Until Hendricks started doing something different, by adding cucumber.”
Premium gin’s are the likes of Tanqueray 10 or Brockman’s; which Richard says is “a great entry level 1 for gin” as it is easily drinkable.
Ten Green Bottles have the category for ‘Super-premium’ gin. “These are the top and elite. They are more expensive; you can’t buy them from supermarkets. They come from Holland, Belgium and Germany. These are your Jenever gin’s,” adds Richard, whose long-term favourite is Monkey 47, from Germany.
Gin originated from the Netherlands and Belgium, but Britain took over this spirit in the middle ages. “Jenever gins, known to some as the ‘original gin’, are not as harsh because they don’t contain as many juniper berries. They are more floral and a little bit sweeter.
“With all of these different flavours, you can’t say that you don’t like gin. I think that there is a gin out there for everyone.”
Upmarket, higher quality tonics, like Fever Tree have become synonymous with serving the best G&T. “Fever Tree have really hit the market,” says Richard. “They are becoming the new Schweppes. Nearly every customer will ask for Fever Tree tonic, and we only sell Fever Tree here.
“I can’t drink tonic, it is too bitter for me, so I substitute with other mixers such as ginger ale, or lemonade. I find people don’t like gin because they think of the bitter tonic that goes with it.”
Ten Green Bottles’ most popular drink, Poppy Rose (a mix of Poppies Gin and rose lemonade), doesn’t contain tonic. Richard explains: “We came up with a drink for people to introduce them to gin. When someone sees one, they want one. It’s pink and filled with fresh pomegranate and pink grapefruit. A Ten Green Bottles original.
“We can always convert people. I am convinced there is a gin out there for everybody, as long as you’re willing to go against the grain.”
Burleigh’s Pink Gin, pink grapefruit, hibiscus flowers, Fever Tree aromatic tonic.
Monkey 47 Gin, fresh cucumber, mint, Mediterranean tonic.
Rhubarb and Custard
Edinburgh Rhubarb Gin, Edinburgh Rhubarb and Ginger Liqueur, San Pellegrino lemonade, fresh rhubarb and sliced ginger.