When inspiration strikes … the birth of our infusion programme

It’s time to celebrate! Birthday? Christmas? No it’s National Plum Day! An iconic day synonymous with our infamous beverage engineering history from our very own CBE (Chief Beverage Engineer) Patrick Hobbs. Here’s the man himself detailing how Plum Gin #1 came to exist!

‘When I first started out in bars the term mixology was just about to be coined. Twenty years later and although there has been some great innovation with cocktails and drinking trends, the style of service has not really changed. In fact it hasn’t changed radically for 100 years. People still look to the ways and techniques of the pioneers, and hold them in reverence as guru’s relevant to today’s hospitality industry.

I love mixed drinks and cocktail bars but have felt for a long time that instead of making life easier and the guest experience better, there is far too much fuss in making cocktails. Many drinks I sample are too strong, not balanced or don’t quite live up to the menu description. They can take an age to make while the bartender twiddles and faffs and you die of thirst. Somewhere down the line I believe the person behind the bar has focused so much on being a mixologist they have forgotten to be a host. I never enjoyed being in the weeds working a busy bar and thought it must be even worse for my guests. But there they were, patiently queueing five deep while I mixed their drinks. Guests have become conditioned to waiting as this has been accepted as the industry standard. This is where Beverage Engineering comes in.

Working events it became very clear that taking 2 to 3 minutes to create a drink was not feasible for a crowd of a few hundred. There had to be another way. I wanted to create beautiful, interesting and tasty cocktails but speed up the process of service. The question that Beverage Engineering asked was ‘why can’t I have my delicious drink now please?’ All the hard work and experimentation is done behind the scenes in the Booze Lab so the service part is relatively easy.

This planted the seed of an idea and through a lot of evolution, experimentation and market research the infusion programme was born. However, our first infusion Plum Gin No.1. was very much a happy accident. 10 kilos of Victoria Plums was accidentally ordered instead of 1 kilo which sparked a lightbulb moment and the first of my experiments. I added the excess plums to an 8 litre kilner jar, covered in gin and a little sugar and left them for a month to do their thing. Overtime the gin began to leach the colour and flavour from the plums, the kilner looked amazing and extremely photogenic. We served Plum Gin and tonic straight from the kilner much to the delight of our event guests. We had created a really simple bespoke drink that was right on brand with the increasingly popular gin sector. And most importantly it tastes delicious!

A selection of decanters containing Plum Gin