Colin Cowie On The Rising Trend Of Gin

At Colin Cowie Lifestyle, we like to keep our events well fueled and always to stay ahead of the libation trend. Tequila became the new vodka, and then everyone was drinking bourbon, and next on the horizon is gin.

As a culture, we’ve seen a growing number of celebrities join the liquor business as George Clooney, Sean Combs, Jay-Z, and Drake all have liquor brands of their own. Most recently, Ryan Reynolds has joined in on the fun with Aviation American Gin. The new brand launched on Sunday, September 30 after landing a partnership with Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic airlines to serve Aviation onboard Virgin Atlantic flights.

ELOF3020Photo Credit: Mike Eloff

Some may say that Reynolds’ launch is indicative of how the new liquor craze is trending towards gin today. It may be catching on a bit late in the U.S. but it has certainly caught on tremendously in other countries. On a recent safari trip to South Africa, I saw just how much the gin craze is taking over. We participated in many gin tastings, where one featured eight of the top gins from some amazing micro distilleries. The different gins were paired with everything from rose petals to pomegranate seeds, dried beet-chips and sliced oranges. It truly does make for an incredible, immersive social experience… particularly if you try one of each!

In South Africa the gins in the Cape Province are flavored with Fynbos, which is a wind resistant ground cover that is very herbaceous and aromatic. Up in the north, it’s more cranberries and dried mango. It’s interesting to see so many micro distilleries coming up, which leads me to believe that the trend is very much alive and spreading. They come out of South Africa and are now being distributed all over the world; my favorite happens to be Musgrave, which is a great story and is now available in the U.S..

ELOF3000Photo Credit: Mike Eloff

The Origins of Musgrave Gin

Maurice Boon Musgrave, grandfather of founder Simone Musgrave, left Plymouth in 1949 bound for Africa to start a new life exploring and discovering the people and land of Africa. Three months on a ship with a small baby, a measles outbreak and many a day of seasickness and the adventure that would change the shape of his family had begun.  

From then onward an African family would take on the adventure Maurice had started. The spirit of endeavor, adventure and courage lives on in granddaughter, Simone, guardian of Maurice’s passion for the unusual. Musgrave Gin is no ordinary spirit – it is an artisan gin celebrated for its top notes of Cardamom, African Ginger and Grains of Paradise.

Musgrave Gin is created and bottled in South Africa at Hope on Hopkins Distillery

After toiling away in the bustle of the City of London for nearly 15 years, ex-lawyers Lucy Beard and Leigh Lisk abandoned the rat race to follow the sun. The couple eventually found their way back home, to South Africa – after falling in love with craft gin in the Mediterranean – and refurbished a rundown warehouse in the heart of industrial Salt River, creating the Mother City’s first distillery. It is in this small urban haven that the two of them work (and live), dedicating their lives to the age old process of batch distillation with their two faithful stills – Mildred and Maude – the first stills to be licensed in the City of Cape Town. Mildred and Maude are gleaming stainless steel, very much in keeping with the industrial heartland of Salt River, and a breakaway from the traditional copper pot stills used by other distillers in South Africa.

Lucy and Leigh collaborated with esteemed South African craft distiller, Roger Jorgensen, to formulate Musgrave Gin, based on botanicals chosen by Musgrave Gin founder, Simone Musgrave. Juniper and coriander are steeped in neutral spirit, which is then finely distilled in Mildred, with a basket containing the rest of the botanicals sitting in the path of the vapor and delicately infused into the spirit.

ELOF3034Photo Credit: Mike Eloff

While it’s interesting to see these new brands, the most established and recognizable brands are Bombay, Beefeater, Tanqueray – and in my opinion the most fashionable today is Hendricks. My personal favorite gin cocktail is simply made with Fever Tonic water and one long ribbon of cucumber garnish in a crystal rocks glass with big ice. It’s interesting how gin has become so mainstream recently, specifically because it used to be considered a daytime drink and was popular because of the quinine that contains antimalarial qualities. Though there is still quinine in tonic water, it is much less and is no longer used as a prophylactic against malaria, but instead as a mixer for its distinctive bitter flavor.

There’s a gin cocktail for every season, and no one knows better than my favorite mixologist Yusef Austin, The Cocktail Architect:

Gin is and has always been the spirit that embodies a full spectrum of flavor profiles. Musgrave Gin, especially, takes this category of spirits to its full potential with the use of grains of paradise, kaffir lime leaf, cardamom and African ginger. Your Martini will never be the same.”

The Autumn-Mate Martini

3 oz. Musgrave 11 Gin

1 oz. Alessio Bianco Vermouth

½ oz. Alessio Rosso Vermouth

½ oz. Caper Berry Juice

1 large Caper berry and a large lemon twist

Take all ingredients in a glass-mixing vessel with ice and stir until very cold.

Strain into a chilled Coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist and a caper berry on a pic.