In the decades since the repeal of Prohibition, gin’s popularity may have fluctuated, thanks, in part, to the accelerated popularity of vodka as martini or cocktail component. But the clear, juniper berry-accented spirit has made a strong comeback in recent years.
With the rise of pre-Prohibition-style taverns in Charleston, certain small batch gins made from specialty ingredients have recently popped up as local favorites. One of the standouts is Hendrick’s, a small batch, hand-crafted gin distilled and bottled in Scotland. The company utilizes an infusion of cucumber and rose petals in the mash, which lightens the body or the gin and adds a subtle fruity flavor and floral aroma.
Keeping with what has become an annual summer tradition, Hendrick’s and the Ben Arnold Beverage Company have once again teamed up to present the Hendrick’s Gin Contest Crawl. Designed as a showcase and bartender contest, the crawl is a judged event that will wind its way through eight downtown bars. A team of judges will be led by award-winning British mixologist Charlotte Voisey, the portfolio ambassador for William Grant & Sons USA (the importer of Hendrick’s) and an knowledgeable expert on spirits and wines. Each venue will assign a bartender to compete by concocting an original cocktail using Hendrick’s and whatever other ingredients they like. They’ll be required to make and serve the drink directly to the judges and recite an original limerick about the concoction as they pour it. Each judge will score their overall bar-and-drink experience at each stop, so the bartender’s demeanor and the atmosphere of the room will effect the score along with the name of the drink, appearance, aroma, flavor, texture, balance, and overall “drinkability.”
At last year’s crawl, High Cotton’s Luca Barwick took first place with a bright-green “Honeydew Sling,” made with fresh cucumber, Bénédictine, honeydew melon, and lemon. He won a Hendrick’s bar bag, a trophy, and a William Grant & Sons “home bar” (with a dozen bottles of fine booze). All participating bartenders will an apothecary-style bottle of Hendrick’s Gin. The crawl kicks off at Coast at 6 p.m. and continues to the Gin Joint, Social, the Speakeasy, Proof, Halls, the Macintosh, and the Cocktail Club. It’s is free and open to the public (cocktails will be available for purchase).
T. Ballard Lesemann