A dimly lit evening, soul music seeping through the walls, sounds of laughter and glasses clinking vibrating through the air.
Those were the sights and sounds at Tapas Ceviche restaurant in Nairobi’s 14 Riverside drive on a gin tasting dinner set up by Tanqueray Gin and its associates.
It was an evening honoring today’s special occasion, World Gin Day, which is marked internationally on the second Saturday of June to celebrate the drink and the brands around them, be they bars and restaurants or different gins across the world.
The day, set aside for Saturday is humorously marked on the day to allow Sundays for “recovery” from the effects of a gin shot or cocktail or two.
“Simple, it’s a day for everyone and anyone (over the legal drinking age) to celebrate and enjoy gin! The day is for the love of the category and ultimately aims to give a platform for bars and brands to engage with the gin loving public,” reads in part a description of the day on worldginday.com.
On the Nairobi evening at Tapas, the exclusive celebration of the drink took priority, which in this case was Tanqueray gin. It was a show and tell of dishes and their perfect gin cocktail accompaniments.
First off was the Tanqueray London dry and tonic, served with fresh fish carpaccio.
“The dish is a red snapper cooked in citrus juices and served with tomato and red radish,” said Fridah, a waitress explaining the combo, adding that although many Kenyans are hesitant to eat raw fish, this was made safe to eat by the citrus juices and would be great as an appetiser.
The dish was served with London dry gin, which was praised as matching in flavor, seeing as it has citrus undertones in its taste.
The second dish was a Mexican cuisine- inspired dish, grilled chicken thigh paprika and white beans, served with Tanqueray Sevilla with lemon squeezer and orange garnish.
It was a meal critiqued as hearty and filling, with the spiciness of the chicken and beans being complimented by the floral quality of Tanqueray Sevilla as well as the orange addition.
The last dish was a splash of seafood, grilled prawns Gambas la Brasa with saffron rice, served with Tanqueray no ten tonic with squeezed grapefruit.
“In simple terms, these are grilled prawns served with saffron rice. Made unique by the infusion of the saffron spice as an ode to Spanish cuisine,” said Fridah.
Gin has been growing in popularity locally, with known brands quickly climbing to be a home and bar favourite for revelers across the country.
In the United Kingdom, the popularity of the drink has surpassed that of Whisky, reported by The Independent as “becoming the nation’s favourite spirit.”
“The drink is steeped in history too. Ever since European apothecaries began distilling gin and selling it as a cure-all in the 16th century, the juniper-flavoured liquor has waxed and waned in popularity. But, thanks to the great gin renaissance of the 2010s, it has made a stunning comeback and is now widely recognised as the go-to tipple,” reads in part a World Gin Day piece on The Independent.
As the day is marked this Saturday June 12 across the world, it is different this year, affected by the blow of the Coronavirus pandemic, which means the crowded events and festivals that would typically follow World Gin Day are going to be different, with measures such as attendance numbers and social distancing put in place.