24 Jun Gin making a spirited global comeback
Would you like some insect with your cocktail? As absurd as that sounds, it’s now possible since Britain’s Cambridge Distillery rolled out its first bottles this spring of Anty Gin, a spirit infused with the concentrated essence of, you guessed it, ants.
While things in Canada may not have reached quite that extreme – yet – after years of being passed over in favour of vodka, gin, the historic hero of cocktails from the negroni to the martini, is once more stepping onto the main stage. And as gin’s popularity has grown, so has the number of brands.
The trend first took hold in the rarefied world of urban mixology, where the alchemists of drink fell big time for the versatility of the juniper-laced spirit. “I love gin because it lets me play with the softer side of making drinks,” says Zak (Gin Diesel) Doy, of Toronto’s Rush Lane bar. “Gin gives an aromatic and floral quality to cocktails, which brings to mind rich green fields and botanical gardens.”
The enthusiasm of bartenders such as Doy quickly spread to their customers, resulting in a surge of gin sales that has witnessed year-to-year growth since 2010, according to the Liquor Control Boart of Ontario, and an increase in sales of close to 10 per cent over the past year alone. With so many gins crowding store shelves, however, differentiating new arrivals from established brands has become a bit of a challenge, which has led to some interesting innovations.