Gin can be quite intimidating for those who are not familiar with the vibrant flavour profile of this distilled spirit. Made from grain and flavoured with botanicals, gin gets its primary taste from the distinct hint of juniper berries. While the drink has Dutch origins, it gained popularity in the Thirty Years’ War - that took place from 1618 to 1648 within the Holy Roman Empire when British soldiers fighting on Dutch land were bolstered with ‘Dutch Courage’ by drinking gin. And from there, it didn’t take long for gin to spread across England. Today, it boasts popular cocktails, including the classic ‘Gin and Tonic’.  

Its popularity has spread around the world now. And although it arrived in India much later, the drink has created a fan base here too. The crowd that thronged the Gin Festival in Mumbai recently is proof of that. After four successful editions in Delhi, The Gin Explorers Club - a gin festival curated by Food Talk India - came to Mumbai on May 7 and 8, 2022, at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse. With close to 12 homegrown and international gin brands along with a series of restaurant pop-ups serving sumptuous food, the festival is the biggest gin celebration one can imagine in the country.  

Gin enthusiasts can embrace a gin-tastic experience with a stellar line-up of gins, such as Samsara: The City of Pink, Tamras, Doja, Stranger and Sons, Jaisalmer, Greater Than: No Sleep Gin, Gordon’s, Hendricks, Roku, Terai and more. Yeti, Burma Burma, and Nino Burgers offered a lip-smacking affair to the palate, along with other pop ups.  

Image: Gin Explorers Club

We caught up with the brains behind the festival - Shuchir Suri and Anjali Batra, Co-Founder, Food Talk India - to discuss the ever-growing love for gin, the idea behind the festival and more. Excerpts:

 1. What prompted you to start a Gin festival in India?  

Like all great things, the Gin Explorers Club also began as an experiment in 2017, when Anjali Batra and her team saw a rising interest and curiosity surrounding the spirit. Batra, an avid traveller, gin drinker and collector of the spirit throughout her escapades, found herself scribbling ‘Gin Explorers Club’ in her diary on one of her trips. The idea was simple, create an experience that would kickstart a gin-versation in the community and get people to interact with, sip, experience and explore various gin brands. 

The following year, Gin Explorers Club was born. The team brought Delhi’s first-ever Gin Festival in 2017, with a guest list of 50 people invited to an evening of tasting gin and little did they know the incredible gin journey they had in store! 

Image: Gin Explorers Club

 2. How do you see India as a market for Gin? 

India has a strong flavour palette with our culinary landscape being very diverse, and we as a community incline ingredient, flavours and especially spices. And gin as a spirit celebrates these three elements, and with every gin being an amalgamation of botanicals - they are all so different. There are over 10 Indian craft gin brands present in the market and many more in the pipeline. This is just the beginning, we’re going to see a lot more homegrown gin brands, and that will automatically bring in more awareness for the category, which will, in turn, increase the appetite for the spirit. Gin has become the white spirit of choice for a large part of the youth in Tier 1 cities, and with the growing acceptance, we will see gin being the choice in Tier 2 cities. 

3. How would you describe Gin to someone who is entirely new to the game of G&T? 

It is electric, and you will find something exciting as it tickles your mouth at the first sip and ends with a burst of flavour. Another great thing about gin is that every Gin has a different flavour. Pro tip: Taste it with your nose before you taste it with your mouth, as the smell of the aromas is always full of surprises.

4. Why would you choose gin over other alcoholic beverages? 

Gin as a spirit is very versatile as it’s very effervescent and accessible on a palette, refreshing and vibrant. Another thing about gin is that one can enjoy it any time of the day with a classic G&T and garnish it with fruity or citrus flavours.

Image: Freepik

5. Three of your favourite Gin cocktails that you would suggest to a Gin explorer. 

Classic cocktails are a must-have for any gin explorer, a twist on the G&T is the best way to start your gin journey, and you can garnish it in numerous ways and have fun with it. For someone that likes a fresh or fruity drink, I always love a Berry Bramble or a Gin and Tea. And the perfect way to sip gin in the evening is a Dirty Martini or a well-made Negroni.