As part of Gin Month, BARS&clubs reached out to Diageo’s National Gin and World Class Ambassador Krystal Hart, who – safe to say – knows a thing or two about all things juniper.
In part one of a two-part interview, we ask Krystal for advice on selling gin, mixing gin cocktails, gin trends, and moving beyond the G&T and Martini – with some guidance from recent World Class winner Orlando Marzo.
Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR BARTENDERS OR OPERATORS LOOKING TO MAKE THE MOST OUT OF GIN AT THEIR BAR?
Understand your audience and find gin serves that appeal to them. For example, if you’re a high-volume venue, building a cocktail menu that features 10 bespoke gin cocktails each requiring at least 5 ingredients probably isn’t the easiest task to manage. Especially if consistency within your spirit mixers isn’t quite up to par. Start small and work your way up.
Studies have shown that most consumers aren’t sure how to make a gin and tonic at home. With stats like that the perfect place to start is with a gin and tonic menu. Premiumise your serves by customising your garnishes and selection of tonics to enhance the unique botanicals in your gin selection. If you’re considering producing your own tonic please speak to a professional, quinine can be an incredibly dangerous and poisonous ingredient if used incorrectly. It’s also laborious; in the words of Tim Philips-Johansson, “Why produce something yourself when companies like Schweppes having been doing it for centuries, especially if you can’t produce something better than the original.”
Finally, always remember that one gin isn’t interchangeable for another. They are all unique, and coming up with simple ways of highlighting these features in a way that appeals to your clientele will see you get the most out of this booming industry.
Q: DO YOU ENCOURAGE BARTENDERS TO EXPERIMENT WITH GIN IN COCKTAILS – AND MOVE BEYOND THE TRIED AND TRUE CLASSICS?
Of course! Gin is such a versatile spirit so remember to have fun with it. Start by working through your London Dry Gins in an array of classic cocktails. Experiment with dark, spirit-forward drinks with gin replacing the “strong” flavour component. You may need to substitute the modifiers, but it gives you a more rounded approach to building flavour. Work up to more experimental drinks that subvert the classic 3 ingredient format. Think about secondary and tertiary flavours as a way of amplifying texture and highlighting the more uplifted aromas generated by your gin’s botanical composition.
Just remember no matter what style of cocktail you’re wanting to create, not all gins are substitutable, and make sure your drinks taste good. Sounds obvious but sometimes we get caught up the process behind drinks and forget about the end result. Tasty drinks win cocktail competitions!
Q: WHAT ARE SOME GIN COCKTAIL TRENDS YOU’VE NOTICED RECENTLY?
We’re seeing Martini serves making a huge comeback especially with the rise of hotel bar culture [with venues] such as The Savoy, Duke’s Hotel and The Connaught producing their own interpretation of the classic with unique flair and showmanship.
The Negroni is starting to become a household name with every bar championing the serve. There are so many re-imaginings of this classic across trend-leading venues, from Negroni’s being served in coconuts (Door Knock) through to bespoke bottlings and opportunities to sell direct to customers (The Everleigh).
Finally, seasonality and locality are influencing cocktail bar culture in Australia and its relationship to gin. The team at PS40 and Bulletin Place are being meticulous in their search for the best quality produce, sourced as locally as possible to feature in their gin cocktails.
Q: HOW ARE INNOVATIVE BARTENDERS USING GIN IN CUTTING-EDGE OR CREATIVE WAYS?
At World Class, Orlando Marzo, our Australian and Global Champion, won the Tanqueray Signature Serve Challenge. He created two innovative serves linking them with a common component, grapefruit in both serves:
- 40ml Tanqueray No. TEN
- 100ml CO2 charged Lemongrass Laced Belsazar White Vermouth
- 10ml Black Pepper Aroma
- Garnish: Lemon spiral
- (*Improved grapefruit juice: peel grapefruit and make a saccharum by adding 3% apple vinegar to it, rest for 24 hours. Clarify grapefruit juice)
- 40ml Tanqueray No. TEN
- 20ml Cold Vacuum Distilled Grapefruit Belsazar Rosso
- 20ml Grapefruit Stock
- Plum-laced Fino sherry
- Garnish: Plum disk