What’s a Negroni, you might ask. ‘Equal parts of Salcombe Gin, sweet vermouth and rosehip cup … and my absolute favourite,’ says Salcombe Gin co-founder, Angus Lugsdin. ‘What makes our Negroni so special is the unique combination of our hallmark Start Point gin, a sweet vermouth from Somerset which complements it perfectly, and balanced with a bittersweet cup from London,’ he continues.
It’s all about balance, and the painstaking attention to detail for which Salcombe Gin has rapidly become renowned. ‘It took us eighteen months to develop our gin, endlessly refining the combination of citrus fruits, finest Macedonian juniper, a further ten carefully sourced botanicals plus naturally soft Dartmoor water until we felt we had got it just right.’
The same care and consideration went into the name. ‘Start Point was the landmark the old fruiters had to round on their long passage back across the Atlantic, and it also seemed fitting as a recognition of our starting point,’ Angus says.
But it doesn’t end there. Pay a visit to Salcombe Gin’s recently opened bar at their home on Island Street and you cannot fail to be impressed. Formerly a ramshackle boat store, it’s now a masterpiece of contemporary design, inspired by the panoramic creek views and the position of the setting sun, allegedly the very last place you’ll catch it in Salcombe - perfect for your evening sundowner.
The locally crafted copper-riveted steel bar with clinker effect sides pays homage to the old fruiters which used to ply Salcombe’s waters and which carried many of the fruits and spices which, today, give Salcombe Gin its unique taste. Custom built English oak-topped tables, comfy leather chesterfields, and exquisite artwork by artist neighbour, Greg Ramsden, combine to create a refined yet warm and inviting space.
You will also see a striking eight times life-size watercolour of the juniper which is a key component in the making of the gin. The artist, Nikki Marks, has won an RHS Gold award for her work. ‘She also happens to be my aunt,’ says Angus proudly, ‘and, in time, we’re aiming to exhibit illustrations of all the botanicals which go into the making of our gin, although we may have to find some more wall space to hang them all!’ he jokes.
The whole is seamlessly linked by clean, sophisticated branding, conceived in London but interpreted and implemented locally by graphic design company, FutureClient of Kingsbridge. The firm has been responsible for everything from the concept for the distressed metalwork premises signage, to eye-catching pop-up retailer displays, to innovative brochures promoting Salcombe Gin’s just-launched Gin School which will be holding its first experience day in March next year.
What really strikes you, though, is the large mural screen at the far end of the bar - an imaginative and visually stunning piece of design work for which FutureClient is justifiably proud. Made in two layers, transparent and frosted, it shows an image of the brand new large capacity copper still which will take up residence behind it just before Christmas.
For all its refinements, one thing noticeably absent in the bar is a food menu. Oh, and children.
‘It was never our intention to open a café or restaurant,’ Angus explains. The aim was to create a relaxed and sophisticated retreat (adults only after 6pm) where clients can unwind over craft-bottled beers, all with stories to tell, hand-picked wines, great local coffee … and the odd ‘Salcombe and tonic’, of course. ‘It’s the ideal place where people can settle down with the morning papers, catch up on their emails (free high speed WIFI available), or enjoy a leisurely sundowner before their evening meal. Did I mention we’ve just launched our cocktail menu?’
(images by Jim Stephenson)