WORDS Daco Fernandes
The Island of Jersey has been invaded once more and there is a war on. Battle lines are drawn and the situation is getting heated. Every outpost is claiming their own victory but the rules of engagement aren’t clear, the only thing that is clear…is the GIN.
“IN WAR, DOES SIZE REALLY MATTER? WELL, YES.. IT PROBABLY DOES. THE SAVOY HAS AN ARSENAL OF 120 GINS COLLECTED FROM AROUND THE GLOBE.”
After recent discussions about various establishments purporting to have the best Gin selections, we had to look deeper. Some claim to have the biggest, the most consistent, the best served, the best-understood Gin experiences.
We had to go on a reconnaissance mission to help us better understand what we were dealing with.
Who’s got their fingers on the Juniper button?
FIFI’S GIN ROOM AT CE-SOIR
Fifi’s bar is a wonder to walk into. It can only hold up to about twenty people which makes it feel as if you’ve taken a step back into Prohibition-era gin houses – a genuine speakeasy. The walls are covered in original old copies of the JEP for the local touch but one of the most striking details is the bar made from an old bathtub. Denise the barkeep tells us that “people love the bathtub and often try to get in it.” The bathtub is a reminder of the days when people used to brew Gin in bathtubs with all sorts of ingredients including “turpentine”. Fortunately, the 35 strong Gin collection that Fifi’s has to offer is a lot more palatable. For a real traditional feel, may we recommend the tea set full of Hendrick’s Gin?
When the island was previously occupied by invading forces, Jersey was said to be a key part in the “Atlantic defence” and currently sitting atop a hill above La Pulente and keeping a watchful eye over the whole of St Ouen’s Bay is a tranquil Gin outpost. With 25 premium Gins to choose from, Karl Sanders’ mission is to prove the “best service of Gins” and this achieved by what he calls “signature serves.” No standard bits of cucumber or lemon here. We are reminded that when you come here, it’s about “personal garnishes”. The “Ki-No-Bi” gin is a must. It has six different distillations which are then blended into one. How you finish it is up to you.
WILDFIRE BARS, GRILL & TAPAS
Hunkered down in one of the most embattled parts of town sits ‘Wildfire.’ Weekend after weekend the battle rages on. Here we have a medley of 57 gins served across three bars and it is considered that they have a “unique gin selection.” For a while, they had a proclamation on the side of their barracks claiming the biggest gin collection on the island but it seems they may have conceded slightly due to changes in the war room. Either way, they are training their troops in their “ginstitution.”
CHEFFIN’S AT THE BEAUMONT INN
Sitting a short march away from an Eighteenth Century Martello tower fortification is the oldest licensed establishment in Jersey. In fact, they built the tower to defend the pub (not quite true but never mind eh). Weighing in with an impressive 95 gins, the crew here are locked and loaded to serve. It is claimed that they have the “largest, most consistent supply of gin” on the island. They insist that whatever gin they have, it won’t run out due to the fact they go to great pains to make sure there is a permanent supply chain. If they don’t have a gin in stock, they’ll find it & stock it. I can’t give you a history lesson but Mike the bar manager and gin connoisseur certainly can. He can also offer you a “gin masterclass” and he can do this because he actually has a bachelors degree in gin. They have a cannon on their logo and it’s because they command their realm.
ROBERTO’S JAZZ BAR AT THE SAVOY
In war, does size really matter? well, yes.. it probably does. The Savoy has an arsenal of 120 gins collected from around the globe. Some are collected from their own reconnaissance missions where they have infiltrated enemy lines to amass quite a collection. The Savoy, with its name alone, has a legendary title to use in its garrison but does that mean they can win the war? Where others have tactics, they have power. With headquarters in St. Helier, they are well placed to oversee any future attacks but will they be able to hold their ground? History is written by the victors.