If you’re still feeling the boozy withdrawal symptoms from last month’s East Imperial Gin Jubilee 2016, trust us when we say you’re not alone. It was, undoubtedly, a rousing success, seeing some of the best gin-loving cities around the region coming together to celebrate the marvellous botanical spirit in the largest edition yet.
Taking place over four months, the festival kicked off in Kuala Lumpur in August, passed through the shores of Hong Kong in September, and arrived in Phnom Penh in October, finally landing in Singapore for its grand finale a few weeks back. Within that period we saw 92 top bars in Asia compete for the title of Best Gin & Tonic in their respective cities, concocting unique G&T renditions as they saw fit.
In Singapore, we saw a series of gin-related activities during that time, from masterclasses and pop-ups to gin rambles and salon sessions. In signature Hendrick’s fashion, the gin brand hosted a creative afternoon of pop-up bars with live music along with its signature bathtub, while Brooklyn Gin brought in its distillers and ambassadors in a delightful learning session at The Proof Flat.
Simon Ford joined forces with Singaporean bartenders at Employees Only to create several G&T variations using his own Fords Gin, while Martin Zufanek did the same with his OMG by Zufanek at The Library. No Gin Jubilee must end without the iconic and now-legendary Gin Lane Closing Party, More than 1000 gin lovers and party-goers descended upon the alley behind HongKong Street, consuming over 4000 G&Ts by local bartenders and brand representatives from the likes of Sipsmith, Monkey 47, The Botanist, Bluecoat, and Santamania. Perhaps the most exciting pop-up at Gin Lane was the Champions Bar that featured finalists and winners from each of the participating cities.
Singapore’s entry awarded Best Gin & Tonic in Asia
On the last day of Gin Jubilee, the newly-opened Red Tail’s Lexis Tan – winner of Singapore’s Best G&T – competed with the three winners from Kuala Lumpur (Angel Ng), Hong Kong (Tomi Ho) and Phnom Penh (Aidan Powrie) for the crown glory of Asia’s Best Gin & Tonic. Held at The Other Room, the judging panel comprised East Imperial co-founders Kevin Law-Smith and Anthony Burt, Atlas’s head bartender Roman Foltán, as well as Dan Bignold, the editor-in-chief of DRiNK magazine.
We’re sure you already know this, but Lexis Tan’s highball-style G&T ‘Float Like a Butterfly’ with its beautiful violet appearance and hints of Asian and floral flavours stood out from the rest and eventually emerged as the winning drink. Made with Bombay Sapphire Gin, East Imperial Burma tonic, butterfly blue pea flower-infused gin, cinnamon syrup, fresh lemon juice, and topped with a layer of citrus foam, taste it for yourself at only $16 at Red Tail.
First 2017 Gin Jubilee date announced
Next year’s edition of the East Imperial Gin Jubilee will begin with the first ever Bangkok Jubilee, running from 31 January to 4 February 2017. Originally scheduled for this year, the festivities was postponed to respect the mourning period of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Expect a series of exciting parties, pop-ups, guest shifts, masterclasses, and naturally, G&Ts by 20 local bars and ten gin brand sponsors – including two gins crafted right in the heart of Thailand, Grandma Jinn’s and Iron Balls, alongside Australia-based INK gin.
Four years on since the festival’s inception, it’s encouraging to see such a turnout from the Singapore community, and now in various Asian cities. There’s a visibly growing interest in cocktail culture around the region, and we can only hope that gin might one day become as popular a spirit as whisky!