Just the tonic you need

Christmas gin glass
The spirit of Christmas in a glass Photo: supplied

With cocktail art, delicious gourmet snacks, free Schibello coffee, and a range of Australia’s best craft gins, Christmas Gin Palooza is bound to get you into the festive spirit. By Rita Bratovich.

It was once the opioid of the underclass, maligned as a poison of society, but recently gin has experienced a renaissance that has elevated it in esteem and popularity.

Where only a few years ago you might have been able to name the top four or five gin labels, you can now walk along the shelves in a typical local liquor store and discover dozens of new gins in a spectrum of colours, in bottles that are themselves works of art. 

All over the landscape, Australian distillers are producing unique, high quality gins that are being recognised internationally, so it’s little wonder that gin festivals are proliferating.

Gin Palooza, run by the Australian Gin Distillers Association, has had sellout events in major cities across the country since it began. The success of the event earlier this year (Covid restrictions and all) has prompted a special encore – Christmas Gin Palooza.

Celebrating big at Gin Palooza. Photo: supplied.

The two day festival takes place at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Sydney’s Darling Harbour precinct, making it easily accessible by public transport. Sensible thinking. 

Forty-one craft distillers from around the country will showcase their range of gins, offering tastings, making cocktails and selling bottles. Over 200 different gins will be featured including award-winning labels The Farmer’s Wife, Never Never Distillery, Botanica, Manly Spirits, Ester spirits and the Barossa Distilling Company. If you’re looking for the ideal Christmas gift, pick up one of the  special Christmas releases. 

The holy grail will be the quest for the perfect G&T using a selection of premium gins and the ideal mixer from the Artisan Drinks Co.

Bartender Mikey Enright at work. Photo: supplied.

Freshen your palate and clear your head with free cups of Schibello Coffee. Pair your drinks with gourmet treats including cod croquettes, beef sliders, arancini balls, butter chicken and gin-cured Atlantic salmon.

The range of masterclasses held by star Sydney bartender Mikey Enright and Byron Bay gin sustainability leader Eddie Brook sold out very quickly, however you can place yourself on a waiting list.  

Gin has certainly come a long way since the gin craze of the early 1700s in England.

Gin consumption was originally encouraged as a substitute for French brandy. However, it got out of hand, as there was little in the way of quality or quantity control, and inebriation and its associated behaviour was rampant.

The term “mother’s ruin” was coined to describe the negligence of women towards their children, sometimes resulting in death, attributed to the excessive consumption of gin. 

Gin Lane by William Hogarth, 1751. Photo: common use.

It took five attempts at prohibition by the British government before there was any semblance of normality again.

The famous 1751 print by William Hogarth titled Gin Lane was used as part of a campaign to discourage binge drinking. Many gin labels today feature depictions of this and 1920s prohibition images. 

The Christmas Gin Palooza is on Friday 4, December and Saturday, 5 December at the International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, Sydney. Visit www.ginpalooza.co for details.