Along with gin, cocktail culture has arguably become the most popular drinking trend of recent years. But it’s not just vodka and rum that have got people talking, as gin cocktails have made their mark too, bringing the showmanship of mixology back to the fore.
As one of over 300 distilleries operating throughout the UK, Greensand Ridge is leading from the front in Kent, supplying our Kilndown restaurant with a boutique range of spirits, produced onsite at its HQ in Shipbourne.
“The gin renaissance has been building from 10 years ago, but in the last two or three, it’s really gone exponential,” says founder Will Edge. “There’s been a huge number of producers that have entered the market, and that’s because people love the drink and the category. It’s a market that’s ready for an injection of provenance and quality.”
Greensand’s story is all about both, focusing on creating a great product that also mitigates food waste, reduces emissions and minimises chemical use. But it’s just as much about discovering new and innovative serves for drinkers too; in an industry that’s seen an influx of flavoured tonics, there’s a growing demand for unique and interesting gin cocktails.
“We’re currently seeing a lot of flavoured gins and tonics, whereas 20 or 30 years ago, we would have been making the same cocktails, but with grenadines, syrups and fruits,” Will continues. “We’re in this period where we’re making cocktails, but using pre-mixed flavours to simplify the process.”
Indeed, the likes of elderflower tonic and pink gin offer customers a sweeter spin on the classic drink. And despite his more traditional approach, Will welcomes anything that enhances the overall theatre of drinking, championing showstopping mixes like the Chapel Place Clover Club and the 45 West Raspberry Ghost.
“All these new flavour combinations are great,” he adds. “I’m not a flavoured gin person myself – my range of spirits is a bit more traditional in style – but I do like cocktails, and you can make some really interesting ones from flavoured gins and tonics. The more anything brings a higher quality of drinking experience to more people, the better.
“I like the showmanship and fanfare of a well-made cocktail, and if you go to a great bar and buy something that’s made with mastery, that will beat a flavoured gin and tonic any day. We may well see a swing back to more classic styles like ours, and more showmanship to create cocktails from scratch.”
For Will, go-to gin cocktails include the English Garden, which uses apple juice, elderflower syrup and lime juice to reflect the produce and ingredients found in the Weald of Kent and Sussex, and remains a firm favourite from the region. And while Greensand’s Wealden Rum likewise gathers pace, it doesn’t look like the taste for gin cocktails is going anywhere anytime soon.
© WILL AND MATT DEVLIN