I have always known Milan to be the capital of fashion and there was a time when it was the capital of soccer. I would have never thought Milan to be the capital of gin though. But the Milan based juniper festival ‘Gin Day’ showed it is. Two days a year Milan is all about gin. Started five years ago as a small juniper spirit festival, gin day has grown into an impressive beast of juniper. Over two hundred different gin brands, small and big, present their gins, and seminars are presented by the greats of the cocktail world. And of course, Bols Genever and Damrak gin were present.
The popularity of gin becomes evident the moment you step into the festival building. Over a thousand visitors come to taste the different gins, get educated about their history and taste and learn about gin cocktails. I was impressed by the number of bartenders visiting the festival. I think 90% of the crowd is working in the bartending trade. Every brand represented at Gin day has a booth where they can invite the bartenders to taste their products. In the middle of the festival area is a bar where four different classic gin cocktails can be ordered. You can choose your favorite gin represented at Gin day as base spirit. And what better way to enjoy a classic Martinez than with Bols Genever?
Obviously, you can’t have a two-day festival without food. In a separated area at the back of the festival, food trucks are serving hip and tasty street food. After lunch, breakfast or dinner, you can expend your juniper knowledge if you like. Next to the restaurant area was a large seminar room, where an impressive list of international bartenders and distillers educated the eager crowd on anything juniper.
Talking about gin, without talking about genever is like talking about coconuts without talking about palm trees. Gin comes from genever, and it was not more than logic that Bols Genever was present at gin day. Representing the true Amsterdam spirit, I flew over there to show an impressive crowd of Italian and international bartenders how Dutch people make their drinks. Our booth was decorated with tulips and a real Dutch bike, but the stars of the show were Bols Genever and Damrak gin.
With over 350 years of genever producing history and 450 years of distilling experience, the Lucas Bols company was the oldest spirit present at gin day. At gin day, I had the unique opportunity to share my vision on bartending in a 45-minute seminar in which I was supported by the Bols Around the World 2014 Global Runner Up, Ciro Adriano de Georgio. I was able to give a glimpse of what we do at the Bols Bartending Academy. Train and inspire bartenders from all over the world.
Besides fashion, football and amazing food, there is a fourth reason to visit Milan. Gin day. And after the festival closes at eight, you can go into Milan for the typical Milan aperitivo and great cocktails in one of many quality cocktailbars.