The resurgence of genever

With genever slowly coming out of a standstill period, we talk about the history of this liquid and what’s to expect from the category in the near future.

Genever – referred to as Holland Gin when it first started to hit the market – is often misclassified as a type of gin, which goes to undermine the huge part this liquid actually played in the creation of gin itself. Genever is, in fact, the technical predecessor of gin: it has similar characteristics thanks to its botanical profile; but also features Moutwijn, a malt wine distilled from rye, corn, wheat or barley malt.

This particular ingredient is usually what makes the difference for a bottle of genever to be classified in one of the two general categories: Oude (in English, old), if the percentage of malt wine is above 15%, or Jonge (in English, young), with a malt wine percentage inferior to the same amount.

The rest of the liquid is made up of botanical blends, of which – unlike gin – juniper does not need to be the prevalent flavour.

Genever is making a comeback, with bars progressively reporting a higher demand after overlooking the liquid for its very popular successor. Cocktail culture is taking a bigger liking to genever as well and bartenders are getting creative by coming up with brand new recipes or reworking classics with a bit of a twist, giving those staple cocktails a slightly tweaked, unique flavour profile.

For example, we have seen how a bramble is usually made with gin, sugar syrup, lemon juice and blackberries. If you were to simply replace the gin with genever, you would be able to achieve a taste that is enhanced by the perfect combination of citrus, blackberries, and malty notes.

Genever Bramble
50ml genever
25 ml lemon juice
1tbs sugar syrup
Muddled blackberries

Although genever is becoming popular again, a lot of drinkers are still weary of this liquid and seem to prefer sticking to what they know.

Adrian Gomes, Managing Director at cocktail catering service, 10 Dollar Shake, and their flagship venue, The Tippling House, reports that the popular choice falls on gin – local gins especially, as most drinkers are now interested in the history behind their drink, together with authenticity and provenance.

10 Dollar Shake started in 2010, with the Tippling House opening shortly after in 2012 as a late night cocktail bar and restaurant. In addition to the venue, the team at 10 Dollar Shake run an event company that mainly provides bar solutions for distilleries and drinks brands, corporate entertaining and weddings – this means that they are able to gather what the latest trends and drinking preferences are on-and-off trade.

Adrian says that, despite the general consensus gravitating mostly towards gin, they have still been seeing some interest from their guests in taking a risk and detaching from their usual choices.

He says: “Although we’re seeing signs that the modern day gin craze is starting to level out, our guests still like to try new releases, expressions or flavours. We try to be open-minded about the offerings on our list, updating them regularly but keeping the classics on the back-bar.”

The Improved Holland Gin Cocktail

50ml genever
30ml maraschino liqueur
15ml sugar syrup
15ml absinthe
2 dashes angostura bitter
Maraschino cherry and lemon peel to garnish

It is vital that bar operators keep an eye on both gin and genever trends in order to accommodate their guests as much as possible and make sure they will enjoy their experience at the bar as much as the general excitement that having a day or night out brings.

Guests’ input is always important, especially because the trade is usually driven by consumer demand – even more so in the last couple of years! The trade is always changing and evolving according to our audience, and Adrian thinks the future will be no different when telling us what he expects from the category.

He explains: “I’d like to see some innovation in the genever category, even if it means the finished product technically differentiates from the original liquid. Regardless of the outcome, I think progress in the category will be driven by consumer demand, not trade.”

We can’t do anything else but agree with Adrian in wishing to see quite a few changes for this overlooked, yet historically iconic drink, and we don’t doubt that the industry will be up to the task!

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