The Gin To My Tonic Bar opened in Faringdon on October 30 to great fanfare, a long-held dream of lifelong friends and fellow gin drinkers Emira Shepherd and Paul Hudson-Jones.
Emira and Paul are some of the UK’s biggest and most knowledgable gin gurus, so unsurprisingly their new bar boasts over 120 different gins, including local brands Keepr’s, Collagin, TOAD, Chalgrove, Cotswold Dry, Skywave, Mr Hobbs and Garden Swift, as well as some inspired cocktails.
Despite having to close The Gin To My Tonic Bar due to lockdown a few days later, its new proprietors remain upbeat, delighted with their new venture’s reception and its community support, and are using the time to finesse their stunning new watering hole.
Having been sharing their own personal gin journey on social media since 2017, amassing an impressive amount of followers on the way, 2020 still felt the right time for them to open their own bar.
The pair met at Blackwell’s Publishing where Emira and Paul bonded over their love of gin and began publicising their opinions on gin under their new social media guise Gin To My Tonic.
“It was just a way of sharing our love of gin, a therapeutic outlet,” Emira says.
The Gin To My Tonic concept took off almost immediately, with 14,000 followers joining in the first 5-6 months (they now have around 77,000 followers on Instagram) and while surprised by its popularity, the pair began to think about where they could take The Gin To My Tonic next.
They started by running their own gin tasting events, gin expos and gin festivals which slowly spread around the country, sponsored by Fever Tree.
They also produce their own range of gins with flavours including No 1. Yuzu & Szechuan Pepper, No 2. Watermelon, No 3. Raspberry & Mango, No 4. Apple & Lemon and No 5. Blueberry Old Tom.
The next step was to open their own bar, and where better than their home town of Faringdon? So when a popular former tapas bar came on the market, it was the perfect venue.
“There are so many gin fans out there, and the response has been phenomenal”
“The idea of The Gin To My Tonic was actually set up over a glass of gin (naturally) and some tapas in the very same building, so opening here has seen us go full circle, and we are absolutely thrilled with the results,” Emira says.
In the few days they were open, customers flocked from far and wide to pay them a visit and try out the new concept bar. “There are so many gin fans out there, and the response has been phenomenal,” Emira laughs, “we just hope they come back in December.”
Paul agrees. He said: “We are absolutely delighted to have opened The Gin To My Tonic Bar in Faringdon. Faringdon is an important part of our story, and we hope we can create a hub for the local community, whilst also bringing in new people to the town.”
However, although not currently open, The Gin To My Tonic Bar is instead currently offering click and collect and free drop-offs in the local area during lockdown.
“It’s such a crazy time for the hospitality industry that we always knew that opening during a pandemic could result in us having to lockdown quite soon after opening,” Emira says.
“However, for The Gin To My Tonic, it was about more than just opening a bar but also about creating a home for us as a business. With our online store, event planning and bar all operating under the same roof, we are just happy to be able to celebrate our locality,” Emira says.
“So we are still keeping everyone stocked up on their favourite gin and have lots of exciting things planned.”
From the Gin To My Tonic advent calendar to their well stocked Christmas stocking and gin gift packs, numerous bespoke tastings are planned. There’s also a gin school on the horizon so customers can concoct their own spirit onsite. “Put it this way, we are ready and eager to get going again,” Emira confirms.
And take it from me, as soon as they re-open their doors, Ox In A Box will be ready and waiting!
The Gin To My Tonic Bar is at 1 Bromsgrove, Faringdon, Oxfordshire. SN7 7JF. Go to https://thegintomytonic.com/shop/category/gin-on-your-doorstep/ or https://www.facebook.com/TheGinToMyTonicBarFaringdon for more information and orders.