Queen of mixology with Tessa Gerlach

14 Nov 2016
3 min read
This week FOUR speaks to the brains behind Elephant Gin, Tessa Gerlach.

Not only is Elephant Gin award-winning(World Spirits Award 2016 – Double-Gold and Spirit of the Year 2016), genuinely delicious ginof such high quality that it’s excellent sipped on its own, what really sets the gin apart is that Founders Tessa and Gerlach created the brand as a means of raising money for a cause close to their hearts, Africanelephant conservation. Theygive15% of their proceeds to elephant protectionto help ensure thatthese beautiful creatures survive and thrive for manygenerations to come.

Where did you grow up?

A small town in northern Germany near Münster.

What did you aspire to be when you grew up?

A story-teller; with Art, Theater or a camera (film). I experimented with all of it.

How did you find your way to into the world of mixology/distillery?As crazy as it sounds…through my travels in Africa and finding unbelievably exciting botanicals and plants that I had never come across in Europe before. My partner and I knew that we needed to take these exotic fruits, roots and bush leaves back “home” and introduce and highlight them in a product that could be enjoyed by everyone. In gin-making we found the perfect product that allowed us to experiment with (the oils of the) botanicals and create a flavour-profile unlike any other.

Can you tell us a bit more about how Elephant Gin came to be?

Elephant Gin was inspired by our travels through South Africa and Kenya – and especially the sundowner experience after a day out in the bush. The sundowner is celebrated asthedrink during sunset overlooking the majestic African landscape and reminiscing all the beautiful nature and animals one has seen during the day. More often than not the drink comes in form of a Gin and Tonic – and this tradition would live on back in Europe. Paired with the findings of the exotic botanicals and our love for the African elephants we were determined to support came the (possibly absurd) combination: Elephant Gin.

What do you think makes Elephant Gin so special in your opinion?

Elephant Gin is different to other gins as it is made with exotic African botanicals as well as fresh apples to create a complex yet smooth flavour-profile. The product is handcrafted. All botanicals are hand-selected to limit any impurities, bottles custom-made, natural corks sourced from Portugal, and labels hand-written and named after a special African elephant. Elephant Gin also gives back to what inspired the gin in the first place: 15% of all proceeds to two African elephant foundations to support the preservation of the African wildlife and help ensure that future generations will also be able to explore these magnificent landscapes.

What interesting trends/themes are going on in the world of mixology?

I see more of a focus on classic cocktails. While most may have limited ingredients, there is a focus on finding / using the best ingredients in that category. There are so many products out there (hello, gins everywhere), but the good thing is that there seems to be a conscious selection for what tastes good vs. who is the biggest player / shouts loudest. I also follow the great trends of food-pairing; and by that I mean not only pairing food with a special drink or cocktail, but using cocktail ingredients (such as bitters) in food and vice versa.

Can you suggest FOUR delicious cocktails that you have created using Elephant Gin?

Elephant Gin works great in aMartiniorMartinez; the later is best with Cocchi Torino, Aaakavit Jubelium and Luxardo Maraschino inspired by cocktail-legend Brian Silva. TheElephant Negroniuses Elephant Gin, red vermouth and Campari all in equal measures. Another simple yet delicious twist on a classicOld Fashionedis Elephant Gin with honey and 4 dashes of Angostura Bitters.Oasentrunkis an easy-to-make-at-home cocktail using fresh apple juice, honey syrup and fresh lemon juice.

Why do you think there has been a surge in popularity for craft liquors?

This goes back to something I mentioned before. The overwhelming varieties of options and liquors out there moves people to find the most premium in that category – away from mass production and towards a product with limited scale and distribution and a focus on hand-crafted quality.

What are your FOUR indispensable cocktail making ingredients?

Ice (preferably crystal clear), gin, basic bitters, vermouth.

What’s next for you?

There is lots to experiment with on the gin side (a new Navy Strength coming out) – and personally, lots more I want to achieve together with the elephant foundations we support. So far, we have given EUR 150,000 through the sales of our bottles and events towards the conservation of the African elephant – which is definitely great but by far not enough to save them. Poaching and the insatiable demand for ivory is such a big threat to the elephants (and rhinos), and there needs to be more awareness, more education, more people involved, more active engagement to ensure that the next generation will be able to experience the wildlife (and world) we experience today.

Find out more about the Gin here |www.elephant-gin.com