Bootleggers List Review: 2018 Gin & Tonic Day Taiwan


The Bootlegger's List,our secretive friends and intrepid new explorers of Taipei's finest watering holes, (check out their list and reviews of the 10 best bars and speakeasy's in Taipei here) recently snuck their way into juniper heaven,  AKA the 2018 Gin & Tonic Day.

They came back with this intoxing report and magnificent images on the gin-ormous selection on offer there that will drive you to drink! (all pictures and words published with kind permission by The Bootleggers' List).

The Event

Spearheaded by Ginspiration’s  Perry Chang  發琴吧, the 2018 Gin & Tonic Day  came to a wrap last weekend in Old Town Taipei.

Thousands of cheerful enthusiasts (and curious onlookers) filled the streets of Dadaocheng (大稻埕) for the opportunity to sample exquisite gins from all over the world—not just your everyday go-to Hendrick’sMonkey 47, or even Tanqueray  , the exhibitors made sure to feature lesser-known distilleries and gave these gins the platform to shine.

Visitors were able to track down some of their favorite bartenders from Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan at their daytime workshops and evening guest bartending spots. 

Having arrived early in the afternoon, it took us some time to understand the setup and navigate around the 7 main locations, but soon enough, we were in the zone, part of a crowd in the highest of spirits.

Almost everyone wore a blissful smile on their face (no doubt a direct result of the free drinks dished out by each exhibitor), and the excitement was palatable.

The Gin

With a few best-selling gins dominating the market these days, it’s refreshing to see new and rising distilleries competing for the spotlight.

Some of our favorites included KI NO BI (季の美) and SEN NO SUZU (千の鈴) from The Kyoto Distillery,  barreled aged Koskue gin from the Finnish distillery Kyrö   , barreled and dry gin from Chicago’s KOVAL  (which we couldn’t resist getting a few shots of), and the good old Monkey 47 sloe gin and some Gin Mare  to start off the afternoon adventure.

But honestly, when it comes to gin (and drinking in general), just trust your own palate and enjoy whatever you enjoy.

The Workshops

Workshops were available for those who wanted a breather from the packed venues, hosted by industry veterans such as Bar Orchard’s Sumire Miyanohara , and Tomoiki Sekine from Kyoto’s magnificent gin bar Nokishita711.

Taiwan’s own infamous bar hoarder  SoSo  (did we say hoarder? we meant expert!) also hosted his own workshop, giving participants a chance to sample some of his private gin collection.

Booze and happiness were in the air. Workshops were a great way to learn about each bartender and their craft, and a great opportunity to ask them all the questions you’ve kept to yourself.

SoSo's (Sidebar) Workshop

Out of all the workshops, SoSo’s  session on Mediterranean spirits made the biggest impression. The owner of Sidebar waxed on lyrically about what makes Mediterranean Gin special—the basil, olive, thyme, and rosemary notes differ significantly from our day-to-day London Dry Gin, despite usually having adopted similar distillation techniques.

The group got to sample 3 gins both with and without tonic water, and ultimately in a basil cocktail: Mare from Spain, MiL from Ireland, and Hope  from Cape Town.

The build-up in each cocktail was exquisite, and complemented each gin’s original structure wonderfully. SoSo’s workshop was clear and easy to understand, and we can’t wait to catch him in action again at Sidebar (read our Sidebar review here). 

It was a delightful experience seeing bars within and outside Taiwan working closely to put the event together, and it wouldn’t be a proper G&T Day without acknowledging them:

From Taipei’s own Ginspiration 發琴吧 , Le Zinc 洛酒館, Citynorth 小城外, Mikkeller 米凱樂 , Sidebar (just to name a few), Tainan’s  TCRC , Kaohsiung’s K.C. Cigar , Atman Space 三千, Double Soul Inn Bistro, and Goodness Bistro 上善若水, to Hong Kong’s Origin and Dr. Ferns , and guest bartenders from Japan’s Nokishita711 and Bar Orchard Ginza

There was no doubt this one-day event was a huge success—being able to get both drinkers and non-drinkers involved (and excited!) about gin is no mean feat, but G&T Day did just that.

There was room for improvement regarding the area planning and crowd control, but we definitely look forward to seeing more and more organized events like these in the future, and will do our part to help remove any stigma and snobbiness usually associated with drinking.

This review was done by The Bootleggers, a group of anonymous night owls who have visited and reviewed more than 100 (and counting) cocktail bars in Taipei and the rest of the world.

With the desire to recognize the blooming mixology scene of Taipei, their main goal is to promote and encourage the many professionals who make Taipei’s nightlife such a wonderful experience and showcase the most exclusive bars and the most eccentric speakeasies Taipei has to offer

Visit or their Facebook page for more in-depth reviews.

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