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Hendrick’s Gin Finds Beauty in the Bizarre

Hendrick’s Gin brand ambassador for South East Asia, Charmaine Thio. Photo courtesy of Hendrick’s Gin

The Scottish gin’s ambassador, Charmaine Thio, arrives in the Philippines with an array of whimsical and novel cocktails

In combining seemingly disparate ingredients, delicious concoctions that go beyond the conventional are created. This principle is what sparked the idea behind the collaboration between Hendrick’s Gin and The Bizarre Bar, an up-and-coming establishment with a penchant for craft cocktails.

Inspired by unusual Christmas traditions across the globe, the gin was used as a base for a number of beverages that call back to the lore that they draw inspiration from.Charmaine Thio, Hendrick’s Gin Brand Ambassador for South East Asia, designed a special cocktail menu that was inspired by unusual Christmas traditions across the globe to celebrate the festive season and The Bizarre Bar’s grand opening. 

With a gin that prides itself on its atypical botanical notes, Thio was challenged to transform the subtle, rose and juniper cords into its own distinctive flavor for each cocktail. The collaboration between a gin that prides itself on its unusual quality and a bar named after its affinity for the bizarre saw unique Hendrick’s Gin cocktails paired together with a four course meal created by The Bizarre Bar’s head chef Mikel Zaguirre.

Charmaine Thios KFChristmas cocktail Photo by Karlo Torio

In homage to Hendrick’s unpredictable identity, the “KFChristmas” was the first of Thio’s beverages to be unveiled.  Inspired by the practice of purchasing KFC for Christmas, the holiday bundle sold in Japan has become synonymous with their Christmas tradition: a playful nod to the West’s Thanksgiving dinners. Part of this bundle included a Christmas cake, which influenced the cocktail as a sweet and light opener. With Hendrick’s Gin as the base, the cocktail begins in a burst of cranberry, the fizziness of sparkling wine, and rich, white Crème de Cacao. Setting the tone for the series of unorthodox accompaniments, the dessert-inspired drink was paired with foie double down chicken skin, alongside foie gras mousse— a callback to the fried chicken served in the original bundle. 

The “Pickle in the Pine Tree” is a refreshment that draws influences from Germany’s odd practice of hanging ornamental pickles on Christmas trees. Alongside this practice, the festive side dish Rotkohl (a red cabbage cooked with juniper berries, wine, vinegar, apple juice, and butter) served as a blueprint for Thio’s second cocktail. The zesty notes and Rotkohl cordial in combination with Hendrick’s Gin presents a cocktail with a vibrant attitude. 

Charmaine Thios Pickle and Pine Tree cocktail Photo by Karlo Torio

One Icelandic myth centers around the “Yule Cat,“ a beast that stalks the land of ice and fire. The creature devoured people that did not receive new clothes before Christmas Eve, which led to the tradition of receiving new clothes during the holidays. Named after the same creature, a cocktail that reflected its unhinged nature was created with various disparate elements. The “Yule Cat” cocktail also draws breath from one of Iceland’s festive drinks, the Malt & Applesin— a non-alcoholic dark malt in combination with orange soda. The cocktail is a dance of the contrasting yet complimentary flavors of roasted barley, orange, and cold brew coffee.

Charmaine Thios Say Kara cocktail Photo by Karlo Torio

The menu ends with another story centered around a mythological creature, the Turkish “Karakoncolos.” To deter the beast’s gaze, one had to say the word “Kara” in order to be free from its grasp. The cocktail also takes elements from a Turkish tradition that involves a festive turkey being stuffed with rice, chestnuts, pistachios, and raisins. Taking inspiration from Turkish festive traditions, the “Say Kara” cocktail features Hendrick’s gin alongside Japanese rice, pistachio milk, raisins, and festive spices. This combination created a velvety texture reminiscent of a smooth horchata.

As evening fell, Thio discussed her ethos as she crafted the menu.“I’m quite lucky that I get to work with Hendrick’s; it’s so versatile and has such a big personality that zigs where others zag. I like incorporating that aspect of Hendrick’s Gin into my cocktails by adding elements that challenge the conventional and hopefully that invites people to reconsider what they know about drinking,” she concludes. In continuing to challenge conventions, Hendrick’s Gin also unveils its festive series of cocktails. Featuring a trio of recipes, the Cranberry Fizz, French 75, and the Hendrick’s & Tonic, each cocktail is made to pair with all kinds of unique traditions for the holiday season.

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