Think gin

27 May, 2016

Walsh: Bartenders need a brand for every style of drink. You have a lot of diversity out there. Consumers are starting to understand that it’s more about what you mix with your gin and how you garnish it to bring out the botanicals. The way you see the gin category now is the way scotch is [with its regions].

A bar needs a London Dry, Old Tom, a new style gin and a geneva, so that’s where niche gins are starting to be picked up.

Dorelli: In my day we [bartenders] killed gin. Gin did not belong to the Beatles, Rolling Stones, but I’m glad to say it is back. I always worked with London gin because all the distilleries were in London.

Now it is a different world. Now gin is in the forefront – it is the most active and energised spirit in the New World. I have a problem with wood and gin but the flavours and distilling methods are all plusses.

If bartenders have a gin on the shelf, they need to know what they are serving. If the customer asks about a gin, a bartender needs to have done his homework and excite customers.

Tanqueray and Beefeater were found to be the most poured brands in the World’s 50 Best Bars Annual Report. How do you convince bartenders to pour more craft gin?

Stephenson: Big brands pay big money to get their products in speed rails. There’s no getting away from it. But it doesn’t just come down to that. These brands have been around for a long time and are very good, very consistent, they have heritage and a story. Looking at Tanqueray and Beefeater, they are two of the most versatile London Drys out there.

Then, of course, it’s not just about marketing budget for getting it on the speed rail, there’s price point in general. Beefeater, Tanqueray and Bombay Sapphire are competitively priced – it’s not easy to get a craft gin down to those price points when you are offering on a relatively small scale.

Most of the brands here today are up against it, which is why they are doing such a good job of diversifying – bringing in new production elements and botanicals.

Palazzi: Money sometimes talks, unfortunately, but I have Beefeater on speed rail because I love the product. Dukes does about 200 Martinis a night. It doesn’t matter whether you have Beefeater or a craft gin, the price will be the same. What I’m trying to do is to get them to try different spirits.

The dark side of craft gin is people opening a distillery when they do not know anything about gin. This is what craft gin has to be careful of. But trying to promote good craft gins is the bartender’s job. Some people just ask for the gin they know the name of, but about 50% you can persuade to try something different.

Warner: Craft is normally justified by the fact it’s made in small batches by a small team. It’s not a contract distilled product like a lot of gins out there. We are never going to compete with something on a speed rail. The mechanics of the craft business dictate that it’s always going to be more expensive. Craft is about provenance and a story which hopefully translates to an upsell in the bar. We are never going to give the gross margin of a mass-produced product. If craft is competing [with big brands] it’s not craft.

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