How long can the Ginaissance last?

28 August, 2020 by Brydie Allen

In recent years, Australia’s love of gin has flourished. The category has been booming and the so-called ‘Ginaissance’ has shown no signs of slowing down in both the on- and off-premise.

But how long can a category trend last?

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Short of having a crystal ball, the next best predictions in the liquor industry come from those who live and breathe a category. So we asked the people behind powerhouse gin brands Bombay Sapphire, Four Pillars and Warner’s how they saw the future of gin developing behind the bar.

The good news is, we certainly have more great things to see in gin. As Stuart Gregor of Four Pillars and President of the Australian Distillers Association said: “The ginaissance is only in its early throes of growth.”

Despite the pandemic and industry lockdown causing more people to move drinking occasions into the home, gin is expected to be a driver of bar recovery as we come out of the pandemic.

As Tom Warner of Warner’s Gin tells Bars and Clubs, although there is a slight shift predicted to the off-premise: “the bar environment is where people can really gain some knowledge about gin, the styles, and its versatility in cocktails.

“The bartender is the category hero, and so long as the industry keeps it real, keeps innovating and keeps engaging, the bar will continue to be the best place to experience the Ginaissance.”

Warners Rhubarb Gin

Gregor agrees, and says that gin is well placed for increased popularity post-pandemic. This is reflected on a global scale too, with the category set to trend across more areas and continue its explosion of interest.

“When bars and hospitality open back up we will see an increase I think in classic, delicious, simple drinks and gin owns a lot of that category,” Gregor said.

“And the gin category globally continues to prosper and you need only to look at Diageo’s recent purchase of Aviation to recognise that the USA, which has lagged behind the rest of the world in gin per capita sales, is about to see some stellar growth.”

Despite this good news, the gin category as a whole hasn’t avoided being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Popularity is set to continue booming amongst consumers, but with global economies severely affected by the situation, businesses are struggling and the likelihood of new entrants to the category is low.

Business impacts will not only likely plateau new entrants, but also see bars re-evaluate their offering and think of repositioning for the best potential returns. As Bombay Sapphire’s Brand Ambassador Georgie Mann said, bars should know the opportunity of gin as a category, but also the best opportunities within the category.

“As much as bars and bartenders can be ‘trend setting’ they also need to listen to consumer demand… and if gin is still hot then there’ll be a strong presence of gin in the bar,” Mann explained.

She also spoke of the evolution of the category, and said: “Gin & Tonics aren’t just a simple G&T anymore – we’re starting to see the trend follow the Mediterranean route in goblets with fancy garnishes specifically suited to that gin. Ranges available on a back bar will most likely reduce as venues minimise risk so we might see greater volume in a more consolidated range.”

Curating your range to suit the needs of your specific venue and it’s customer base is also the advice from Warner, a lesson he brings from the brand’s home in the UK before it expanded to Australia last year.

“Don’t rush to have the biggest gin collection on your street. Make sure you have the best gin selection, where every gin is fulfilling a role, and your team understands the role it plays,” Warner said.

“The UK on-premise went through a craze of ‘gin collecting’ in 2018, where an average pub had over 30 gins on shelf and more up-market venues sometimes north of 60 gins. In 2019, 50 per cent of the stock just sat on the shelf gathering dust and a huge cull of brands had to take place.

“Take your time, choose carefully and make sure all your employees taste and know the brands you have chosen.”

Gregor’s advice for bars in relation to gin is also about setting up for success with the best ingredients to create the best experiences.

He said: “Bars should concentrate on serving outstanding simple gin drinks – use better tonic, better ice, garnishes and better glassware to make the G&T a more premium serve that will command a higher price point.”

Mann too said that although upselling gin is often tough, it is possible, especially when the experience is there for the customer to be wowed by the difference that different gins can have to their favourite drinks.

“I think good bars will broaden the range of gin cocktails they sell that give them the opportunity to upsell the base spirit. Think drinks like a Tom Collins, or Ramos Gin Fizz, two great cocktails which really allow the base gin to shine through but are rarely sold, and even more rarely used as an opportunity to upsell,” Mann said.

Gregor agreed and said: “Focus on doing the basics brilliantly – make a great Negroni, a superb Martini and a faultless G&T – if you do that the customers will keep coming back… when they can.”

Of course, at the base of all this advice is making sure bar owners and bartenders have the knowledge about gin to really leverage its potential behind the bar. Educating yourself, your staff and your colleagues is the best way to be able to capitalise on the continued Ginaissance.

“Knowledge is key. Whatever gins you choose to stock, make sure you know the chat about it so you can sell it! You need to know why it’s more expensive and why it’s worth paying more for,” Mann said.

“As gin appreciation continues to grow there is more opportunity to educate the consumer on how to drink it and in turn, classic spirit forward cocktails like the martini!”

And perhaps the greatest piece of parting advice is shared by all of the brands, as eloquently put by Warner: “Have some bloody fun with gin. It is the most intoxicating industry in the world, both literally and metaphorically.”

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