They say gin makes you sin. Right now it’s also the trendiest drink around. And there’s nothing the devil loves more than a trendy sinner.

For too long gin has played second fiddle to vodka in the list of clear spirits you can easily smuggle into a concert in an Evian bottle. But the tide is turning.

It used to be even the most hardened drinkers would have done well to name more than five varieties of gin, and in terms of mixers there were but two – tonic, and slimline tonic.

It’s fair to say gin was a fairly one dimensional drink.

The transformation into the most exciting drink in the world has been a slow and arduous one, but it’s clear that gin is now regarding as one of the foremost spirits in the kingdom of drink. And as you’d expect with a premium drink, it attracts a premium price.

You’ll do well to get a bottle of Hendricks for less than £30, and NI-produced Shortcross gin is touching £40 a bottle. That’s supply and demand for you.

shortcross-gin-2-min

Belfast bar Muriel’s is famous for its selection of gins. For a time they were offering customers the chance to go round the world in 80 gins. A journey that definitely requires a few stop overs.

Graze, famed for its award-winning casual dining experience, is another spot in Belfast that’s developing a reputation for gin. We called in this week for a chat about Belfast’s growing gin scene.

Co-owner Neil Johnston said: “Gone are the days of having quaffable gin like a Gordon’s and tonic. It’s a drink that’s appreciated more.

“10 years ago vodka was the big drink. Now it’s gin. It was our customers who prompted us to explore premium gins. When you’re drinking a premium drink you need a premium mixer or garnish that compliments the flavour.”

A stellar line-up at Graze

As well as specialist tonics like Fever Tree and Fentimans, bar tender David Rowan said rose lemonade went extremely well with Only gin, ginger ale was a great match for Edenmill gin and with Shortcross he’d sometimes just garnish with a bit of orange zest.

Other additions to gin employed in Graze include fresh mango, black and pink peppercorns and cinnamon sticks.

David commented: “Local people have been very supportive of Shortcross because it’s a local product. There’s a sense of pride and loyalty. It’s one of our most popular gins.

“We’ve had as many as 23 gins, but we’re trying to keep it down to a top 10 now.”

David listed his current top 10 as…

1. Bathtub

2. Nordes

3. Edenmill

4. Only

5. Anno

6. Shortcross

7. Bombay Sapphire

8. G’vine Floraison

9. Hendricks

10. Sibling

However he admitted his favourites could change from week to week.

Once a month Graze hold gin nights to give people an opportunity to try gins and mixers they haven’t have tasted before. Their Facebook page –  facebook.com/Graze – has more details.

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