A closer look at the design of The King’s Ginger

Author:

Share this post


An image of a man pouring a cocktail from our latest bottle of The King;s Ginger

We’ve collaborated with Stranger & Stranger to bring the latest bottle of The King’s Ginger to life. Our ginger and lemon spirit is deeply rooted in the history of Berry Bros. & Rudd, and its new look is inspired by its rich heritage. Explore the inspiration and considerations behind its latest design.  

The King’s Ginger owes its name and spirit (in all senses of the word) to King Edward VII, whose passion for country sports led to the development of a “restorative” ginger liqueur that could be enjoyed outdoors.  

Since 1903, The King’s Ginger has been evolving continuously – from a well-kept secret amongst the upper classes to a staple in modern cocktail bars.  

Now, 117 years later, we’re thrilled to reveal our latest design. Quietly regal, our new bottle of The King’s Ginger acknowledges its rich heritage while striking an unmistakably modern note. 

The saddle flask 

We collaborated with design agency Stranger & Stranger to revitalise The King’s Ginger for a new age. The new bottle comes in the shape of a saddle flask, the sort that Edward VII would certainly have carried, in recognition of its heritage.  

“The saddle flask recalls a shared enjoyment with friends,” says Guy Pratt from Stranger & Stranger. “Historically, it’s rooted in the tradition of horseback sports that would have been enjoyed by the upper classes in the time of King Edward VII. We wanted to bring that story forwards and situate it firmly in the now.” 

Today, the saddle flask might seem like a historical artefact, but they were once commonplace. “In the days before the commercial advent of the motorcar, before Mr Ford made it popular and accessible to everybody, people used to travel around on horseback,” explains Ronnie Cox, our Brands Heritage Director, “So, the saddle flask would have been held in a leather holster and carried on the side of a horse.” 

But, even as it fell out of use amongst the general public, the saddle flask continues to be used in the context of country sports.  

 “It remains popular even today when people go out hunting – an activity which takes place in winter, when it’s very cold,” says Ronnie, “It was typical to have a ‘stirrup cup’ before going out on a hunt, a tot of something to calm you down before getting on a horse, and it was just as typical to carry a flask throughout the day.” 

This is the inspiration behind the latest reincarnation of The King’s Ginger.  

A modern interpretation of The King’s Ginger

“The new bottle allows the liquid to be the hero; it takes the design from staid tradition to a more refreshing, convivial experience,” says Guy. “During the re-design, we knew we needed to shed new light and energy on a brand which had been around for a long time and give it appeal to a new audience.”  

The result is clean and elegant, tactile and seductive. Its translucent golden bottle recalls honey or nectar, suggesting richness, vitality and purity. 

The elegance of the bottle is complemented by bold embossed lettering, which references The King’s Ginger origin story. “The embossing serves two purposes,” explains Guy, “it’s incredibly tactile, so it feels good in your hand and adds grip. And the vertical orientation invites you to pick up the bottle and investigate the lettering, naturally asking to be turned in the hand.” 

The tactile element plays into its functionality too, making it easier for bar staff to grab the bottle and pour – which adds to its modern appeal. “There’s a huge renewed interest in cocktails, driving interest to liqueurs such as The King’s Ginger,” says Guy, “The tall, tapered bottle is a bold move within the liqueur category, which is known for short, stout bottles such as the old King’s Ginger. But moving towards this more elegant style gives it better shelf stand-out, especially when they’re often placed at the back of the bar.”  

In contrast to the previous bottle, the new bottle is also fully recyclable. Sustainability is a key consideration behind the new design, broadening its appeal to a new audience of socially and environmentally conscious consumers.  

So, does the new King’s Ginger bottle reflect a different direction for the future?  

“The vision for The King’s Ginger is one of relevance to the modern audience – while at the same time, staying true to its roots. It draws out its origin story as a revitalising restorative: a high-strength liquid presented in a tall, lean bottle, perfectly suited to high-energy kingly pursuits such as horse-riding, hunting and fishing.” 

In today’s world, it’s no longer a liqueur solely associated with country sports; the latest design reflects a broader horizon for The King’s Ginger, envisaging it as the go-to spirit for a new generation of bon viveurs.  

Our new bottle of The King’s Ginger is available to buy here.

Category: History,Miscellaneous

The history and heritage of The King’s Ginger

Author:

Share this post


King Edward VII was an avid motorist. This image shows him sitting in one of his Daimler cars.

The King’s Ginger – our favourite ginger and lemon liqueur – is steeped in 117 years of history, since its inception in 1903. The story behind it is just as colourful as the king it was named for. I speak to Ronnie Cox, our Brands Heritage Director, to uncover the details of its rich heritage.  

The King and his neighbourhood

In 1903, St James’s Street was the thriving epicentre of London’s clubland; a district associated with the leisurely pursuits of high society, from gunsmiths and hunting shops to hatters and cigar stores – and, of course, wine merchants.

It was the height of the “upstairs, downstairs” division: a time of grand houses, lavish parties and huge disparities between the extraordinarily rich and the rest of society. Back in the 1700s, St James’s was brimming with coffee houses where likeminded people could meet; by the turn of the 19th century, most of them had become highly exclusive, thematic gentlemen’s clubs: places where a high-class man could relax and enjoy himself surrounded by other members of a similar background. Little wonder, then, that it was a world of intimate familiarity to King Edward VII – a figure who epitomises the era’s elite and fashionable pleasures.  

“St James’s today is a time capsule of the 1900s, and possibly earlier. It was part of the early establishment and it would all have been very familiar to the King, who was living in Pall Mall,” says Ronnie Cox, our Brands Heritage Director.  

The King and his hedonistic environs co-existed in perfect symbiosis. In stark contrast to his famously austere mother Queen Victoria, Edward VII’s well-documented interest in motorcars and life’s indulgences led to an image of a charming “bon viveur” which has endured to this day. Long before they were widely available to the general public, the King was the proud owner of eight Daimlers, which he called “horseless carriages”. The speed limit in the vicinity of St James’s at the time was 20 miles per hour (the speed of a trotting horse) but the King was known for his passion for speed – an unexpected factor that would nudge him towards Henry Berry’s ginger cordials.  

The birth of The King’s Ginger

“The birth of The King’s Ginger is said to have taken place in the back of one of his Daimlers, when he was travelling with his physician,” Ronnie tells me, “Unbeknownst to the rest of the world, but known to the physician, there’s a phenomenon called the “wind chill” which becomes more significant as the motorcar reaches higher speeds. You get a decreased temperature the faster you go, and the physician was particularly worried that the King might catch his death of cold when driving on chilly winter days.”   

Edward VII would have been familiar with Berry Bros. (as we were then known), as his parents and grandparents had been – making it a natural destination for the Royal Physician in his search for a restorative for the King. He came to visit the shop, setting the wheels in motion for the birth of The King’s Ginger.   

“Henry Berry was leading up the company at the time. He would have introduced the physician to various sorts of cordials, as they were called in those days, one of which would have been the brandy and ginger cordial.” 

The purpose of the cordial was “to resuscitate and revivify”. Back then, it was believed that ginger – particularly when infused in alcohol for several weeks – would carry warmth to the extremities of the body. Produced by Henry Berry, it was known as “Ginger Brandy – Special Liqueur”. It was only in 1935 that it was renamed “The King’s Ginger” in Edward VII’s honour.”   

From hunting party to cocktail bar

This early incarnation was quickly taken up by Edward VII’s friends and other members of high society as a “restorative liqueur” to accompany their outdoor activities, and before long, it was a popular staple amongst Edwardian shooting parties.  

“The Edwardian times were really the heyday of shooting: it was the pursuit of the landed gentry, aristocrats and friends of the King. Edward VII or his friends would introduce The King’s Ginger to their friends, and it became a secret success amongst the very few – well before the days of the commercialisation of the brand.” 

From shooting, the liqueur’s popularity promptly extended to fishing and hunting parties. The latest iteration of The King’s Ginger bottle design references these roots, evoking Edward VII’s original saddle flask, also known as a hunting flask.  

“The hunting flask would have been held in a leather holster and carried on the side of a horse when you were out hunting or going from one place to another – in the days before the commercial advent of the motorcar,” explains Ronnie.

“It remains popular even today when people go out hunting – an activity which takes place in winter, when it’s very cold. It was typical to have a ‘stirrup cup’ before going out on a hunt, a tot of something to calm you down before getting on a horse, and it was just as typical to carry a flask throughout the day.” 

Edward VII died in 1910, so he never lived to witness the afterlives of his favourite ginger cordial – its enduring popularity throughout the 20th century, from hunting parties to cocktail bars. Thankfully, The King’s Ginger is no longer just the reserve of high society circles: it can be enjoyed by anyone who shares the King’s affinity and appreciation for the good things in life.  

Our latest bottle of The King’s Ginger is available to buy here.

Category: History

Five of the best bottles in our Autumn Sale

Author:

Share this post


During our recent Autumn Sale, we asked George Turner, Assistant Manager of our London Shop, to recommend five of the most interesting bottles on offer.

Delectably complex Jura

2018 Arbois Trousseau, Singulier, Domaine Tissot, Jura

Don’t be fooled into thinking that light- to medium-bodied reds can’t be complex: Tissot’s Singulier will certainly prove you wrong. Tissot makes this biodynamic wine from the Trousseau variety, native to the Jura region. Light ruby in colour, the nose offers aromas of redcurrants and alpine strawberries, gently infused with a few sprigs of thyme and myrtle. The whole thing is balanced by bright acidity and well-integrated tannins. This is a perfect candidate to be served chilled; believe it or not, you can chill reds. It’s delectable when paired with cured meats and hard cheeses. If you really want to go the whole hog, serve it with a fondue – 100% Comté, preferably!

Old-vine Grenache from Eden Valley

2017 An Approach to Relaxation, Sucette, Barossa Valley, Australia

This Grenache comes from century-old vines grown on sandy soil at the foot of the Eden Valley; it’s beautifully high-toned and sumptuous. Though the sand retains the pretty, bright cranberry and raspberry notes, don’t underestimate the darker side of this wine. Beneath the surface, brooding away, you’ll find spice, dried violet, blood orange and dark fruit flavours. This low-intervention wine is just another great reason for my current passionate love affair with Australian wine.

Spain via South Africa

2012 Pedra De Guix, Terroir Al Limit, Priorat, Spain

This wine utterly fascinates me – and so does the signature approach of Eben Sadie’s natural, hands-off approach to winemaking. Sadie, already known for his eponymous South African winery, has brought his talents to Spain. A blend of 11 white varieties, this is a wine with both complexity and subtlety: flavours of lemon wax, bee pollen, orange blossom, grapefruit pith and hints of salty almonds are all balanced out by a tense and pure acidity. If there is such a thing, this is a “cerebral” wine.

Pet Nat from California

2018 Birichino, Pétulant Naturel, Malvasia Bianca, Monterey, California, USA

Malvasia Bianca is most prominently grown in the Mediterranean. Having made its way to California and into the hands of Alex Krause and John Locke, it has produced my favourite pétillant naturel* to date. As you’d expect on the nose, we’re treated to a fruit orchard on a summer’s day; the light salt breeze brings out the fragrance of the wild flowers growing around the pear trees. Then, prepare for some mild puckering as we take a sip and experience the dichotomy of this grape and wine style combination: tart gooseberries, Sicilian lemons and a slight hint of baked bread.

* Pétillant naturel or “pet nat” wines are bottled part way through fermentation. The remaining sugar is subsequently converted by yeast into alcohol and carbon dioxide, which is trapped in the bottle. This produces a gently sparkling and lightly cloudy wine.

Distinctive Jamaican rum

Berry Bros. & Rudd Classic Range, Jamaica Rum

It pleases me greatly see rums finding their way into people’s drinks cabinets. This example won’t be to everybody’s liking; Jamaican rums have a distinctly individual personality, after all. Fans of the style will find a lot to like, with typical characteristics of hogo and funk, which are tell-tale signs of Jamaican rum’s unique production method. These are complemented by notes of beeswax candles, spun sugar and green and yellow fruit.

Category: What we're drinking

Making sense of Piedmont wine

Author:

Share this post


The hills and vineyards of the Piedmont wine region.
Piedmont’s wines are favoured by foodies, and perfect alongside autumnal flavours. Barbara Drew MW talks us through the famous Italian wine region’s incredible depth and breadth

Piedmont is one of my favourite Italian wine regions, with its rolling hills, autumn fogs and hearty cuisine. As with every region of this diverse country, the breadth of wines produced is astonishing, and the quality of the best easily matches some of the finest wines in the world. It is a region you can get lost in, both literally and metaphorically. But if you’re still finding your way when it comes to Piedmont’s wine, fear not – here, I’ve signposted some of the key wine styles to look out for.

Piedmont wine styles

Like every region in Italy, Piedmont has plenty of unique, indigenous grape varieties to intrigue and delight. Alongside these little-known varieties, you’ll always find some familiar, grapes of French origin, too. This means that for the white wines, there are three key styles to look out for.

First there are the everyday drinking white wines. These tend towards moderate alcohol levels (12-12.5%), often citrusy, with crisp acidity and no oak. A tangy Gavi di Gavi is the finest example of such a wine, though the lesser-known Favorita, often peachy and floral, also falls into this group.

Then we have the sparsely planted, off-the-beaten track discoveries. With nearly 1,000 local grape varieties (or autochthonous, to use the technical term – try saying that after a glass of Dolcetto), there are always new vinous discoveries to unearth in Italy. My favourite amongst these is Arneis – the name itself meaning “little rascal”, due to its capricious nature in the vineyard and winery. Richer than Gavi or Favorita, with a tropical and mineral flavour, Arneis has bright acidity and is incredibly food-friendly. Only a handful of producers are working with this grape, but they are gradually coaxing it back from the brink of extinction and making exquisite wines in the process.

Finally, like many regions in this country of wine, more “international” grapes are starting to appear – French grapes that have travelled the globe and ended up settling in foreign lands. Chief among these is Chardonnay, which is treated here with as much reverence as in Burgundy. Some of the greatest examples, such as Roagna’s Solea, can easily compete with the best Chardonnays from around the world.

Barbera and Dolcetto: Piedmont’s everyday grapes

In terms of the red wines, Piedmont’s reputation has been built on Nebbiolo – the tannic, age-worthy grape that constitutes the wines of Barolo and Barbaresco (among others). However, this grape only accounts for around 5% of plantings in the region. The red wines which are most often consumed locally are Barbera and Dolcetto.

Barbera, in particular, is the everyday grape of Piedmont – and in most trattorias will be the house wine, served by the carafe, often slightly chilled. A juicy, mouthwatering wine (like so many of Italy’s drinks), Barbera can taste of everything from fresh raspberry and blueberry fruit, to more vegetal and smoky flavours.

While it is not the most tannic of wines, it is still best served with some food – even if only a small nibble of local cheese.

Its partner in crime is Dolcetto. Meaning “little sweet one” – referring, allegedly, to the relatively lower acidity of Dolcetto – this is something of a misnomer. Dolcetto can provide plenty of rich red and black fruit flavours with a chocolatey finish, but it can also have shockingly high tannins and, in lesser examples, a bitterness to it. Paired with rich cheeses or robust meat dishes, however, it can be tamed and turned into a far more approachable wine, where the blackberry fruit flavour shines through.

Under the skin of Barolo and Barbaresco

When it comes to tannins, Nebbiolo is the region’s king. An incredibly late-ripening grape, it is often picked as late as the end of October – when most other vines will have been plucked bare by mid-September. In fact, some argue that the name Nebbiolo comes from the local word for fog, nebbia, referring either to the lateness of the harvest (by which time autumn fogs are blanketing the hills of the Langhe where this grape thrives) or, more likely, referring to the soft grey/purple bloom often found on the skin of the grape.

Regardless of discussions over its name (and it has many, Spanna and Chiavennasca being just two), all are agreed that, in its finest expressions, Nebbiolo makes tannic, acidic and alcoholic wines with incredible depth and complexity of flavour. The most famous villages for these wines are Barolo and Barbaresco – themselves incorporating multiple communes and hamlets. These wines can age often for decades, and usually have a price tag to match.

For more approachable Piedmont wines – both in terms of when they can be drunk and also their price tag – Langhe Nebbiolo, from the hills surrounding these villages, is well worth exploring. For the more adventurous, the higher altitude regions of Gattinara and Ghemme can provide beautifully elegant, and slightly lighter examples of this noble grape.

You can browse delicious examples of wines from Piedmont here.

Category: Italian Wine