The spirit for all seasons and serves


Gin drinks which are inspired by autumn and winter can prove a hit in bars


SEASONALITY and social media are two forces that have played a profound part within the gin category in recent years.

As gin connoisseurs persist in their search for serves that are new and timely and are increasingly looking to show off the drinks they buy on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, a selection of seasonal gin cocktails could play a starring role for operators as autumn begins and the countdown to Christmas gets underway.

Amy Burgess, senior trade communications manager at Coca-Cola European Partners, the firm behind Schweppes, said an eye for serves that look good online as well as in the bar was of growing importance to operators.

“‘Instagram-able’ food and drink is a huge trend, and it’s even directly informed a number of microtrends,” she said. “From creating colourful gin-based cocktails and serves with unique garnishes to putting thought into selecting crockery and cutlery for their venue, consistent attention to detail is key to helping operators maximise the Instagram trend.

“This can be a great way to promote your bar and drive more footfall, with three-quarters of consumers reporting they have ordered a drink they have seen on social media.”

Dale McQueen, managing director at Callander-based McQueen Gin, reinforced that view.

“[Customers] want unique flavours, interesting perfect serves and Instagram-worthy presentation,” he said.

“They want something new to them, new to their peers, something they haven’t seen before. Drinking gin is much more of an experience now and operators must be able to offer this.”

A list of seasonal cocktails would give venues an “instant boost to offerings and to social media publicity for venues”, reckons Neil Everitt, chief executive of Brockmans Gin.

He said: “Having a new and interesting pre-Christmas cocktail list enables the bar team to discuss key ingredients and underline the seasonal ingredients in the drinks list.

“The cocktails don’t have to be complicated. For a busy bar, the simpler they are to create the better.”

And as we move closer to Christmas simplicity can become even more important, according to Mal Spence, head of advocacy for Atom Brands, the company behind Ableforth’s.

He encouraged bartenders to keep things simple “both to keep up with the increasing demand at these times of year, but also to make the drinks easily accessible to a wider demographic, which we tend to see at these times of year”.

As the weather changes, borrowing from whisky’s book with the creation of a gin Hot Toddy or a hot gin punch and incorporating warming festive flavours can all be successful ploys.

“Christmas is always an excellent time to boost sales of cocktails, particularly those with warming properties,” said Alisha Goodwin, brand manager for Loch Lomond Group’s Ben Lomond Gin.

“Bartenders shouldn’t be afraid to experiment with gin during the festive period, looking towards creating classic winter mixes with a twist.

“Gin can be mulled, creating the ultimate Christmas cocktail, and can also be used to add a modern twist to the classic Hot Toddy. Garnishes such as cinnamon, cloves, holly and even candy canes can be added to encourage the festive spirit.”

Ben Stewart, director of UK sales at Wemyss Malts, producer of Darnley’s Gin, agreed.

He said: “Mulled wine and cider will always have a place on a winter menu and they have become a staple scent as we walk into bars during this season.

“Creating that nostalgic moment is a brilliant way to engage but perhaps changing things up for gin and using it in a hot punch with ingredients like apple, ginger and cinnamon can bring a new serve to those thirsty winter drinkers and also deliver those well known scents and flavours we associate with Christmas.”


Autumn Reviver

  • 50ml Brockmans Gin
  • 20ml Lillet Blanc
  • 10ml Cointreau
  • 15ml ginger syrup

Method: shake all ingredients together in an ice-filled cocktail shaker; strain into a chilled coupe or Martini glass. Garnish with a dehydrated orange slice studded with cloves.

– Brockmans Gin

The Harris Serve

  • 50ml Isle of Harris Gin
  • Few drios of Isle of Harris Sugar
  • Kelp Aromatic Water
  • Walter Gregor’s Tonic Water

Method: pour the gin into a wide-rimmed glass and add a few drops of the Sugar Kelp Aromatic Water to taste. Introduce large blocks of ice and add a splash of tonic. Rim the glass with a garnish or red grapefruit, add it then stir.

– Isle of Harris Distillers