“I’ve had some of the best Flora Dora’s in the world in Kenya!” Ally Martin, Hendrick’s Gin Global Ambassador, shared while raising his glass to a packed house of some of Nairobi’s most influential opinion leaders, gin aficionados, restaurateurs, and media stars, on Thursday at The DEN.
Flora Dora, a Hendrick’s Gin cocktail, is Ally’s choice when he needs to woo his girlfriend. This refreshing fruity cocktail features 40ml Hendrick’s Gin, 20ml Fresh Lime Juice, 10ml Raspberry Syrup, and most importantly, topped with Ginger Beer – and Kenya’s Stoney Ginger Beer is undeniably one of the most flavourful in the market.
Ally remembers when he had his first Gin & Tonic with his parents, but it was during his nine years behind the bar as a bartender that his affinity for gin grew strength-to-strength.
“Gin has a lot of versatility. The different flavour profiles of gins can take cocktails in so many directions.”
Now, the Scotsman’s role is to share that affinity with gin, and all the intricate and unusual qualities of Hendrick’s to bartenders and aficionados all over the world.
So what makes Hendrick’s Gin so unusual and different? Is it the sensory-provoking cool parties, lively academic talks or the specialty cocktails in Victorian-inspired tea cups that the brand is known for?
HENDRICK’S IS THE MOST UNUSUAL GIN
Ally credits three specific reasons: Hendrick’s Gin is owned by William Grant & Sons, a Scottish distiller and family-run business that is committed to consistency in the quality of spirit development, the unique combination of using the Bennet still and the Carter-Head still, which creates a very smooth gin that showcases all the flavourful nuances of the botanicals, and lastly Lesley Gracie, Master Distiller of Hendrick’s Gin.
“Lesley is a genius and it’s really how unusual her mind is that makes Hendrick’s so unique.”
Working out of Hendrick’s home in Girvan, Scotland, Lesley was tasked to create a gin that used two different and antique stills. In fact, Lesley is one of only a handful of people who know the specific recipe of the quirky Hendrick’s Gin, which includes 11 botanicals, Bulgarian Rose, and Cucumber Sativas.
“The roses add an intense floral note and almost has a subtle Turkish Delight smell. The [Hendrick’s] Gin also has notes of Parma Violets.”
The iconic British violet-flavoured tablet confectionery is known for its floral and fragrant qualities, and paired with the essence of cucumber results in a refreshing tipple.
“Aside from being refreshing, the Cucumber Sativas from Belgium adds mouth-feel to the gin allowing the spirit to transfer on your palate smoothly.”
GIN IN KENYA
The bar culture in Nairobi is certainly blooming thanks to international bartending competitions, general appreciation for bartenders, and also maturing palates that are becoming more curious. Despite Kenya being a predominantly whisky-loving market, Ally believes discerning drinkers will enjoy gin.
“There’s a natural ability for gin to work in a market like this. I mean, just look at the glorious sunshine outside! [Laughs] Sometimes, there’s nothing better to drink in this environment and even for those use to whisky, there’s an appeal to look at how other spirits are being used in an interesting way, and also to look for something premium. Gin is naturally the choice.”
At the party, there is something fun in every corner: A trumpeter that makes an unusual entrance from an outdoor bathtub, fire breathers, jugglers tossing fruits, beautiful hostesses dressed in vintage-inspired outfits, thought-provoking signs, and everybody was tippling delicious Hendrick’s Gin cocktails. Have you just entered hipster heaven? Not exactly. The brand prides itself on appealing to consumers with discerning tastes and the Scottish gin embraces individuality, everything that is quirky, provocative and daring, all driven by curiosity. As Ally puts it, “Hendrick’s Gin is the antidote to everything mundane.”