Can Spain’s gin & tonic ritual be imitated elsewhere?

17th April, 2013 by Becky Paskin

The Spanish might be gulping down gin by the bucketload, but is the gin and tonic phenomenon in this troubled country likely to take hold elsewhere? Becky Paskin reports.

Gin and tonic Spain style

Cocktail or salad? The gin and tonic as interpreted by bartender Andrew Nichols for Gin Mare

To say the Spanish love their gin is an understatement. Despite enduring a seemingly endless recession, the Spanish have ensured their country is the second largest gin market in the world. The reason for its success? The lavish gin and tonic topped with plenty of garnish.

Brands seeking to mimic success in Spain would do well to replicate the gin and tonic trend in other markets around the world, right? Not necessarily. Have you ever fancied a huge refreshing goblet of freezer cold gin topped with tonic and bucket-loads of ice on a November evening in Prague, New York or even gin’s home city of London? Shiver at the thought.

The refreshing nature of G&T works in the year-round warmth of Spain. It’s so popular that every premium and super premium gin out there is promoting its own drink ritual with extravagant garnishes that work in harmony with the botanicals in the gin, such as juniper berries, fresh coriander, ginger and cucumber (in the case of Hendrick’s).

Retired ritual?

Bartenders have been central to the development of the simple gin and tonic as a cocktail in its own right in Spain. The trend has remained strong for over five years, and while some other markets have done well to replicate the G&T ritual during their summer months, Paco Receuro, global brand director for gin at Chivas Brothers, believes all good things must come to an end eventually.

“We feel this trend of putting a lot of garnish in your glass has probably finished,” he says. “Consumers, and some bartenders, are getting carried away and putting a load of different garnishes into the glass, so the whole thing becomes a kind of salad and the flavour of the gin gets lost. We shouldn’t promote this serve as they are damaging the quality of the product. The trend moving forward will be for bartenders to concentrate on portraying the quality of the gin itself.”

Chivas may be shying away from pushing the Spanish G&T ritual for its Beefeater and Plymouth gins, but Bombay Sapphire is one brand keen to continue attempting to replicate it in other markets, with the roll-out of its bulb glass last summer, and the introduction of an educational programme in the UK this year.

Juan Carlos Maroto, marketing manager for Mediterranean brand Gin Mare, disagrees with Receuro, claiming the G&T phenomenon is only just beginning.

One Response to “Can Spain’s gin & tonic ritual be imitated elsewhere?”

  1. Fred Julier says:

    My next drink is for sure a Gin and donic ala Spain

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