The 26 feet tall iconic Gin Tower housed at the Atlas Bar is as foreboding as it is mesmerising. We speak to Atlas Bar's Gin Researcher to get an insider's look into the world's largest gin collection.
Rumoured to house the world's largest gin collection, Atlas Bar's shelves are lined with over 1,200 bottles from more than 55 countries. Naturally, this has made the Art-Deco inspired bar a pilgrimage destination of sorts for the gin aficionados and the gin curious across the world.
Despite the size of the collection, the bar is quick to remind guests that the addition of gins to those gilded shelves is by no means an indiscriminate process. In fact, the bar performs their own due diligence before deciding whether or not to add the gin to the inventory.
Protecting the integrity of the Atlas Gin Collection is key, so much so that the bar even has their own an in-house Gin Researcher!
We spoke to Yana Keller, Atlas' current Gin Researcher and also the Head Bartender, to find out what the role of Gin Researcher entails, how Atlas curates its gin collection and, of course, to get some gin recommendations for our next visit to the historic bar.
Yana, the bar's Gin Researcher and Head Bartender, inspects the Gin Tower.
What Does A Gin Researcher Do?
A big part of Yana's job as a Gin Researcher comes down to gin procurement and curation. "I always make sure we have new gins coming in, and I scoure the world for interesting and high-quality gins," Yana shares. Apart from managing the cocktail programme and bar operations, Yana sets aside time each month to keep updated on new gin releases and new gin production methods.
"It's important not to dilute the quality of the collection. We do have a large collection, but we also want to make sure that it's properly curated, that there is thought put into the gins that we select."
"It's important to us that we do not dilute the quality of the collection. We do have a large collection, but we also want to make sure that it's properly curated, that there is thought put into the gins that we select."
The Criteria for Gin Selection at Atlas Bar
Induction into the Atlas gin tower requires meeting a series of criteria, and the Gin Researchers job is to filter for it accordingly. "Every single gin has to add value to the tower, otherwise it would defeat the purpose," Yana shares.
First and foremost, Atlas looks for transparency from the gin distillers. "If they are open to listing their botanicals on their website or their bottle, that's important because it enables us to properly categorise it on our menu. We make sure we list the botanicals in the gin so our customers have full transparency too. If I cannot find this information, it's unlikely that the gin will make the cut."
Transparency is one thing, but taste ultimately also matters. "Some gins might sound fantastic on paper, but they don't taste as good. The team makes sure to hold routine tasting sessions for every bottle that we add to the gin tower, so there is assurance that the gins are actually nice to drink."
Finally, the Atlas Gin Tower does not stock any flavoured gins or gins that are made with artificial flavourings.
Yana's Gin Recommendations
For those planning a future visit to Atlas, we tapped on Yana's gin expertise for a list of recommended gins to try from each major gin category the next time you frequent the bar. Guests at Atlas can order gin neat, or have it in a custom gin and tonic. For Yana's tips on how to make a perfect gin and tonic, click here.
Four Pillars Navy Strength Gin, 58.8% ABV
"I have a lot of fond memories of my visit to the Four Pillars distillery with my friends. Navy Strength gins can be overpowering sometimes, but this one is really balanced. You get the juniper, and alot of citrus in it, and I love using it in a martini."
Prohibition Shiraz Barrel Aged Gin, 59% ABV
"This is actually a barrel-aged gin, aged in Shiraz barrels, but it's almost 60% ABV. The barrel adds a bit of sweet vanilla flavours to the drink, which I really love."
London Dry Gin
Ford's London Dry Gin
"This is a bartender's dream gin, because it's so versatile in a cocktail and on its own."
Plymouth Sloe Gin"Sloe gins are my favorite category of gins. One of my favorites is the Plymouth sloe gin, it's full of plum and cherry flavours."
Old Tom Gin
Del Professore Crocodile Old Tom Gin, 45% ABV"The sugars they used are quite interesting. The thing about Old Tom is sometimes they can be too sweet, but this has a good balance. You can taste the botanicals like thyme and rosemary, and it brings about a herbaceous flavour with just a nice, controlled touch of sweetness."
Moonshot Gin by That Boutique-y Gin Company
"The story behind this gin is really interesting. The brand apparently vacuum sealed the botanicals and shot it up to near space where the air pressure is really low, then vacuum distilled it once it came back down to earth. There's not much research on the effects on that on the final flavour of the gin, but I would say that this gin does taste really crisp, clean and light!"
Audemus Umami Cask Finished Gin (Read 88 Bamboo's review here)
"The distiller took the cheese and macaerated it into distilled caper spirits. I'm not a huge fan of cheese and was expecting it to be pungent but when I tried it, I surprisingly really loved it. The cheese brings a different mouthfeel to the spirit, it adds body and it's almost buttery. It's very tasty."
88 Bamboo would like to thank Yana Keller for taking the time to chat with us. We learnt a lot about gins and already can't wait for our next visit to Atlas to gawk at that amazing gin tower!