We had a chat with Bombay Sapphire’s global brand ambassador Raj Nagra about some tips on where to get the best gin cocktails in Australia and around the world.
Raj has been around for a long time and has managed some of Australia’s best bars and clubs. A few achievements under his belt include consulting with the Sheikh of Dubai and opening up the Emirates Towers Hotel in 2000, he’s ran bartending programs and was awarded Bartender Magazines Australian Brand Ambassador of the year in 2006. Now he travels the world styling cocktails, educating and consulting to bars, clubs and hotels on Bacardi’s portfolio of brands.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the history of Bombay Sapphire and how it is made?
Bombay gins are based on a 1761 recipe, one of the oldest gin recipes still being made today. This recipe was repackaged and launched as Bombay Dry in the US in 1959 due to a growing demand for a suitable gin for the in-demand martini cocktail. Making Bombay Dry one of the fastest growing gin brands of the time.
When gin was in a global slump, it took the imagination of Michel Roux and Ian Hamilton (the Bombay Dry master distiller), who added two new pepper botanicals – cubed berries and grains of paradise to the eight botanical Bombay Dry recipe, creating Bombay Sapphire, the first super premium gin, with its 10 botanical mix and launching it in a contemporary blue bottle in 1987. Bombay Sapphire reinvented and reinvigorated the gin category and is single handedly responsible for gin’s modern renaissance.
It is the 100% vapor infusion process that sets us apart from other gins. Through our unique process, all of the botanicals are allowed to shine, producing a gin that is more complex, with higher citrus and pine notes, and less of the pungent and notes associated with steeped and distilled gins.
We’ve seen a few gin bars popping up in Australia, are you able to give us some insight on some trends you’re excited about?
The Barber Shop Sydney, best new gin bar and right on timeless trend. Under the tutelage of old best friend Mike Enright, this place is for real! It’s like the best cocktail is the one that’s almost empty; same as the places you end up most often. The Barber Shop is old English, subtly done with great nuances, and did I mention you could also get a close shave or/and quality trim to the old barnet!
We’ve seen the G&T craze in Spain in more recent years, with the ritual serve extending to entire menus dedicated to various G&T’s and back bars adorned with some hundreds of gins. It’s nice to see this trend hitting NYC over the past couple of years, as well as various other countries.
Trends: The Martini – happening! People are drinking them and they’re being made properly. And I’m not talking five-year old dirty olive brine martinis either. People are graduating to gin now and it’s high time they did too!
Premium and super premium gins are in double-digit growth. With regional botanical gin expression rife hitting shelves globally each week. Bombay is the world’s fastest growing premium gin for the fifth year running, for example.
Trends? Gin! Period. Oh, and Genevan’s are making a salvage to boot! Watch this space.
As the global brand ambassador, you’ve travelled to some pretty amazing places, what’s your favorite city and why?
It’s a question I am asked often; my answer is always the same. Most favourite places tend to be where my friends are, admittedly most places! You can be at the best place on earth, but without homely comfort and laughter it’s not really all that great after a period I think you’ll agree. Notably Shanghai, Hong Kong, Whitsundays, Mumbai, Sydney, NYC, Dubai, Miami, Barbados, London, Florence etc.
Where are the top 3 places to get a gin cocktail around the world?
Number one without question, a place I’ve been frequenting for the best part of fifteen years, my first and last stop in Melbourne, always for a martini – Gin Palace of course! There are many bars that simply aren’t around any more so no point hampering, but I must say Bayswater Brasserie, Sydney over the years. Okay, so next, more currently, Atta Boy NYC, Bemelmans Bar – Carlyle Hotel NYC, Beaufort Bar, Savoy London. Was that more than three?!
What’s your favourite gin cocktail?
Not being funny, but a good Bombay Sapphire martini. I quite fancy a good Clover Club, Corpse Reviver #2, a gimlet.
Juniper Sublime G&T + Blue Swimmer Crab Toast Recipe
Where do you think the best G&T in Australia is? Let us know by commenting below.
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