Berlin’s Gin Palace: Payday Friday Falls to Blue Ruin
By Andrew Cottrill . February 25, 2016
Is gin ruinous? Well, yeah it can be. In 1700s England, gin was the Class-A drug of the time and ruined whole communities. They even had to introduce the 1751 Gin Act to stop people drinking themselves to death in the romantically-named Gin Palaces. But that, as they say, is history. Or is it?
These days, we don’t need an excuse to ruin ourselves on payday. In fact, we’ll hand over a day’s pay for the privilege. And, if you’re going to do it anyway, why not do it on high-quality gin and gin cocktails? Introducing: Blue Ruin.
Blue Ruin’s an end-of-the-month blowout, held every payday Friday at Basement, Spreewaldplatz 8. Berlin’s own Gin Palace will showcase high-end and local gins, mixing a creative blend of cocktails with lo-fi, dream pop and cosmic house music for a heady start to the weekend.
We spoke to the guys behind Blue Ruin (in exchange for free cocktails this Friday):
Where did the idea for the Blue Ruin party originate?
We’re just a group of friends who had an idea for a party, and then gave it a try. Once we got the ball rolling it all seemed to take form quite naturally. Of course we had plenty of nights sat around at our studio or in bars discussing how we wanted the night to take shape. With the direction of the music, we aimed to start off less beat-focused and dreamy/lo-fi, taking it naturally towards the dancefloor as the night progresses. The aesthetic was also really important to us, we’ve been working on our design and experimenting with different techniques to create distorted, psychedelic imagery. The fact that Blue Ruin starts earlier than most parties, and is focused on getting you into the right mood for the night ahead, we feel it fills something missing in Berlin. We’re bridging the gap between home and the club.
Can you tell us a bit about your mixology background?
There are a few of us involved who really know their stuff. Max (Maximilian Garth) helped set up Jigger, Beaker and Glass, Craig is a bartender at Berlin’s Soho House, but really we’re trying to steer the focus away from this hardcore mixologist thing and concentrate more on creating a good energy. We think a lot about our menu and choose our gins carefully, but we want to keep it simple, three gins and one or two cocktails, that’s it! One thing that’s really great is that the gin brands want to work with us to design cocktails specifically for the night. They’re unique to Blue Ruin and the crowd who come down.
And what is it about gin, specifically, that brings you to center a party around it? When did you first fall for it?
It’s the perfect drink to start your evening with. Add tonic and you’ve got a super fresh, vibrant drink, and I think that translates in people’s moods. My first sip of gin was nothing special. It wasn’t until I tried a Martin Millers that it clicked that there might be more to this drink. This is why we only pick gins that are doing something inspired and different. We look to make these accessible to a crowd who are up for discovering something new.
What was the vibe/mood of the first Blue Ruin party (in January)? Do you think it’ll keep people coming back for more?
You can guarantee there will be good energy in a room when everyone’s on the gin tonics, and, because our menu is focused around that (you can only order gin, beer or wine), it creates a nice buzz. That’s one thing I really noticed from our first night. Right from the start there was a really positive energy about the place. But the vibe can’t solely be put down to the drink. The space, the music, as well as an amazing group of people working together, created a community aspect I think everyone there felt a part of. A few of us would play records for an hour then go jump behind the bar to help dish out the drinks. I hope it is this community more than anything that will keep people coming back for more.
Can you tell us about your new cocktails designed for each of the specific gins?
This month we’ve got two amazing gins on the menu, The Botanist and Brooklyn gin. Max and I are in the middle of creating 2 cocktails: one short drink, more intense and involved, and one long drink that’s more vibrant. We’re working directly with the brands to create something unique to Blue Ruin that will suit the Berlin taste and fit the season. The cocktail recipes are held back till the day of the event, so if you want to know what we’ve created you’ve got to come to the night. It’s a one-time only thing!
How does each gin handle differently?
The Botanist is distilled on the Scottish Hebridean island of Islay, and 22 of the botanicals they use to make this gin are foraged on the island. Think smooth, spiced and floral.
Brooklyn gin is made in New York with 100% fresh citrus peel and hand-cracked juniper. It’s a traditional London dry with a strong burst of citrus.
Where’s the best gin cocktail in all of Berlin (besides yours, of course)?
Try TiER bar in Neukölln or Jigger, Beaker & Glass in Fhain. They won’t disappoint.
Time: 9pm – till close
Location: Basement, Spreewaldplatz 8, Berlin
Music: Think lo-fi, dream pop, psych, peaking with cosmic, deep house and house
Prices: Gin and Tonic €5, Gin Cocktails €6 (€1 at the bar for the DJs).
Visit the Blue Ruin Facebook event here.