Behind bars: gin

- Advertisement -

SLTN interviews two Scottish bartenders about their outlet’s gin offering

Alex Neary, BeGin Bar, Glasgow

BeGin-Bar-Glasgow-Alex-Neary-Bartender

How important do you think the presentation of gin-based drinks in bars is and do you notice increased demand for good looking serves?

Presentation is very important, especially with gin-based drinks.

The customer may not be demanding a well-presented drink, they could just want a simple G&T, but if the presentation is on point it makes the drink all the more enjoyable.

People start to appreciate their drink if the presentation is great long before they’ve taken the first sip.

What is the merit in eye-catching garnishes and what types of garnishes do you find are the most popular?

Garnishes are normally thought of as secondary to the drink.

However, if a bar is shown to take care and use tailored and eye-catching garnishes they can suddenly give the customer a more complete experience of the gin.

The most popular garnishes tend to be citrus fruits or berries. But at BeGin we’re looking to experiment and provide more options for customers.

What role does glassware play in creating perfect serves that customers appreciate?

Glassware is just as important as the garnishes and the gin.

Gin served within a goblet is a nouvelle way of serving gin, after it was pioneered in Michelin star restaurants in Spain. The science behind it is that the bowl of the goblet prevents over-dilution of the gin by the ice.

Alternatively and classically, others prefer a Collins glass, which if the ice is large enough to withstand the gin and not dilute the drink rapidly, helps maintain the fizz from the tonic.

How many different tonic waters do you stock and how important is it to offer a good range?

We stock twelve different tonic brands with several different flavours.

In addition, we provide tonic alternatives, such as ginger ale; this is to encourage those that are put off by gin and tonic due to the flavour of quinine.

Having a diverse stock of several flavours is as important as the variety of garnishes that can complement the gin.

The goal is to make gin accessible. The best way to do that is by having variety and, in turn, tailoring the drink to the customer.

We’re here to give people the best drink possible for them.

Which tonic water is your favourite to pair with gin?

Our favourite tonic water has got to be our own in-house tonic.

Back in September we met with the Drinks Laboratory and created our BeGIN pink tonic for the bar.

It is pink in colour, flavoured with Scottish strawberries and roses.

We came up with the concept when we started to notice customers choosing lemonade to mix with their gins over tonic.

BeGIN pink tonic is sharper than lemonade but sweeter than tonic and still holds that refreshing quinine flavour.

We are very proud to have created such a fantastic product that we recommend to our customers, and not just the ones who are new to drinking gin and tonic, but also to our band of experienced gin drinkers that are looking for the next new concoction to have with their favourite spirit.


Simon Jackson, Masonic Arms, Kirkcudbright

Simon-Jackson-Masonic-Arms-Kirkcudbright-Gin

How important do you think the presentation of gin-based drinks in bars is and do you notice increased demand for good looking serves?

I think it is very important; serving gin is like theatre, building and presenting a glass with the desired garnish to complement the gin that customers wish to experience, taste and enjoy.

We find customers are aware of gins and serves more than ever before now so we have moved up in the way of presentation.

Customers are always looking for something extra when they go out and we have to provide that.

What is the merit in eye-catching garnishes and what types of garnishes do you find are the most popular?

Fresh and colourful garnishes are always the best way forward; keep it simple and don’t add too much.

There is nothing worse than having gin with too much mint or grapefruit in it, which then overpowers the taste of the gin itself.

The traditional lemon or lime garnish for gin is still there, but greater choice is necessary. Our garnish fridge is a veritable greengrocers of all things perfectly served.

We are constantly trying to look outside of the box with things such as fruit in ice cubes or ice tainted with flavoured bitters.

What role does glassware play in creating perfect serves that customers appreciate?

The glass is the most important part of any serve, we strive to find glassware that is slightly different, which customers will remember. We always get great feedback from customers about our glasses; basically we are creating a treat in a glass.

How many different tonic waters do you stock and how important is it to offer a good range?

We stock 33 different tonics to complement our 270-strong gin selection.

It is important to offer such a selection to give the customer variety.

Which tonic water is your favourite to pair with gin?

Walter Gregor’s is a personal favourite; it is balanced, doesn’t overpower and is a great all-rounder that pairs well with many gins, especially my favourite at the moment – Four Marys Zesty Sherbet from Linlithgow Distillery.