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Ginterview - The Thinking Drinkers

Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham

· The Gin Whore,Edinburgh Fringe,Gin Cocktails

Edinburgh Fringe and Gin...

I often say choosing a favourite gin is like choosing between my children (which is why I don't have any) - What's your desert island gin & why?

Impossible. We've been drinking a lot of Adnams Copper House this summer, it's in our show, and it's cracking stuff so it's close to our heart right now. Plymouth is a phenomenal gin neat though, and with all the seafaring associations it seems like an obvious one. But actually, Tanqueray might make sense, it's a solid gin, perfectly simple, and because it's not over-dosing on botanicals, you could use is as a base while you add some of the weirder botanical ingredients on the island.

I have many different favourite bars depending on the occasion. What's your favourite for: A. A Dry Martini & Date Night? B. A Red Snapper & Brunch? C. Gin & a party?

Gin & a Party - The Distillery in Portobello. It used to be the Portobello Star (RIP), but Jake Burger and his team have replaced it with a multi-leveled tribute to gin and good times.
Red Snapper: It would have to be the King Cole bar at the St Regis, not necessarily the best exponent of the drink but the history is a perfect garnish.
Date night: we both have kids, so we don't have so much time for dates any more, but as we're in Edinburgh right now, we would say Bramble, a bar name after a gin drink and one of the best in the world.

Which drinks professionals have inspired you & how?

Jake Burger, an unrivalled appetite for this industry. Tom Nichol, Desmond Payne, Charles Maxwell and more recently John McCarthy, all for obvious gin reasons. There are many others, too many, but one of the best martinis we've ever tasted was made in a bar in a shed set up by Jonathan Downey, so he needs a mention for everything he's done to improve drinking standards across the board.

Do you have a favourite Gin Botanical? (Yes. Really.)

Juniper. Obviously.

If you were a gin or a gin cocktail which would you be and why?

Martini. It's the only cocktail that we consistently crave. Although the Corpse Reviver No.2 is also useful for those nights we die on stage.

Gin-terview; The Thinking Drinkers

Angus Winchester says olives are the devil's testicles. Thoughts?

Angus knows his onions. So to speak. Hard to argue with the great man. We don't mind an olive though. Or testicles.

Which gin has your favourite packaging? How important is this?

Tanqueray no.TEN did a phenomenal job on the resign and I didn't think it needed touching in the first place. Ask Hendricks’s how important it is. It's important.

Do you have a preferred tonic?

We don't drink gin & tonics so much. In truth, most gin is now ordered in a martini or neat. We've going through a phase of gin on ice, theory being if we can drink our whisky neat, why not gin. Whatever the tonic, it should be used sparingly.

What's your favourite trade event?

London Cocktail Week has been a great success and we're very pleased for those guys.

London Cocktail Week

What's your favourite food to pair with gin?

It's an aperitif (the French work for drenchers), so salty snack food pre-dinner is the best bet. Gin does work well with fish, especially a citrus forward gin. Weirdly, we recently found ourselves drinking neat gin with cheese at the end of a meal and that is a banging combination. Try it.

How did you get into the Gin industry?

We’ve been writing about all things booze for 20 years now, so we've been lucky enough to find ourselves pulled into the gin revolution as it has happened.

What do you love most about your job?

The shared enthusiasm. We've been consumed with our show in the last couple of years so we miss hanging out with peers who share this love of gin. It's been really exciting meeting consumers who are increasingly as knowledgeable on the subject.

And the worst bits?

The mainstream media nonsense about drinking in general. Our motto is 'drink less, drink better' and the public is learning. The spirits market enjoyed an increase in value over the last 12 months, this was driven not by numbers of bottles sold, but by the overall value, indicating the consumer is paying more for better booze. It would be nice if the media reflected this and helped promote it more.

If you could share a martini with anyone who would it be?

William Hogarth. Be interesting to see his views on how it has all panned out.

Do you have any recommended reads for gin lovers?

Thinking Drinkers Tickets

What are your Gin goals?

Drink less, but better gin!

What advice do you have for aspiring Gin professionals?

Give them all a chance. Everyone has a motive, a dream, an idea and it's this that is making gin exciting. Don't dismiss any of it until you've really given it a go and learned about the people and places behind what is in your hands.

What's your pet Gin industry hate?

Not sure we have one.... production shortcuts are a big no no....

If you aren't drinking Gin what is your tipple?

We drink everything.

What's going to be the next big gin trend?

Literally no idea... The pace of change and the new ideas are mind blowing, we can't keep up.

Any other pearls of wisdom or Gin rants?

Never give up on your dreams. In 1750 the gin dream was in ruins, 100 years later a collection of pioneers had it back on the up. Then it suffered again in the 20th century, and now it's cool again. It just kept ploughing on. So let gin be an example in life.

Where can we send our readers to find you online?

Listen to our podcast here:

and for all writing and details of tickets for our live shows head here: