Santa Ana Gin: A Jazz Age Love Affair in a Bottle

If you have been following me for any length of time, you know that in addition to wine, I like to make forays into spirits, if beautifully made and with a story.

So in March 2023 I traveled to Manila to discover how and where Don Papa rum is made. A wonderful trip that tasted like more.

Also from the Philippines comes Santa Ana gin. A newcomer to the world of spirits with a fascinating story. Let’s dive into that!

Santa Ana Gin, more than just a drink; this gin lets you take a journey through time, a harmonious blend of history, philosophy and exotic ingredients. Let’s take a sip from this fascinating story and discover the secrets that make Santa Ana Gin the talk of the town.

Dancing Through Time: A Love Letter to the 1920s Manila

Picture yourself in the dazzling 1920s, amidst the enchanting dancehall days of Manila. This era gave birth to the iconic Santa Ana Cabaret, a legendary venue that once reigned as the largest cabaret in the world. Set against the backdrop of the Philippine Art Deco Movement, the Santa Ana Cabaret was a playground of music and entertainment for Manileños and visitors alike.

Spanning over a massive 3000 square meters, this Art Deco wonderland, adorned with white linen tablecloths and a sprawling dance floor, lured in well-heeled Manileños and American globetrotters. The Santa Ana Cabaret was a haven for those who craved the best dance music in the Orient, a sanctuary for dance enthusiasts who reveled in the Charleston, the Tango, Waltzes, Blues, and Jazz.

The Sounds of Santa Ana Gin

Inspired by this lively and energetic musical era, Santa Ana Gin has music ingrained in its very DNA. The brand delivers a multi-sensorial experience, much like the diverse sounds of Santa Ana Cabaret, combining fragrance, palate, and visually striking elements. Santa Ana Gin mirrors the high-energy sounds of the underground dance music scene, blending modern beats with the timeless charm of the 1920s-1940s Jazz Age. It’s tasteful, eclectic, and adventurous, much like the gin itself, offering a harmonious symphony for the senses.

Ingredients that Evoke Tropical Magic

Santa Ana Gin is a concoction that bridges the gap between tropical jungles and evergreen forests. It starts with classic gin staples, such as Juniper, Coriander, Lemon, Bitter Orange, Angelica Root, and Orris Root. But the magic happens when Ylang-Ylang, Alpinia, and Fennel join the party, infusing the gin with perfume-like qualities.

To add a citrusy twist, Calamansi and Dalandan make their grand entrance. Calamansi, also known as the Philippine lime, offers a delightful fusion of sweet lime zest and sour orange-like notes. Dalandan oranges, native to the Philippines, bring a tart yet slightly sweet dimension, creating a tantalizing cocktail of flavors that transport your taste buds to an exotic paradise.

The Art of Distillation: A French Connection

Santa Ana Gin is crafted using partial-vacuum distillation, a technique honed in the Charente region of France. This method allows for the extraction of botanical aromas without the degrading impact of heat, preserving the delicate fragrances. As distillation progresses, the subtlest of perfumes intensify and become more complex, ensuring that even the most delicate botanicals, like Ylang-Ylang and Calamansi, are fully embraced.

Five Cocktails to Unlock the Magic of Santa Ana Gin

Ready to explore the magic of Santa Ana Gin through delicious cocktails? Here are five delightful concoctions:

1. Santa Ana Swing Sling

  • 2 oz Santa Ana Gin
  • 1 oz cherry brandy
  • 0.5 oz Benedictine
  • 0.5 oz fresh lime juice
  • A dash of Angostura bitters
  • Maraschino cherry and lime slice for garnish *How to Make: Shake all the ingredients with ice, strain into a glass with ice, and garnish with a cherry and lime slice.

2. Cabaret Charleston Cooler

  • 1.5 oz Santa Ana Gin
  • 0.5 oz elderflower liqueur
  • 2 oz fresh pineapple juice
  • 0.5 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 0.25 oz simple syrup
  • Pineapple leaf and cherry for garnish *How to Make: Shake all the ingredients with ice, strain into a glass filled with ice, and garnish with a pineapple leaf and cherry.

3. Tropical Jazz Fizz

  • 2 oz Santa Ana Gin
  • 1 oz passion fruit juice
  • 0.5 oz fresh lime juice
  • 0.5 oz simple syrup
  • Club soda
  • Lime wheel and mint sprig for garnish *How to Make: Shake Santa Ana Gin, passion fruit juice, lime juice, and simple syrup with ice. Strain into a glass with ice, top with club soda, and garnish with a lime wheel and mint sprig.

4. The Swingin’ Sour

  • 2 oz Santa Ana Gin
  • 0.75 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz simple syrup
  • 1 egg white (optional for froth)
  • Lemon twist for garnish *How to Make: Shake Santa Ana Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white with ice. Strain into a chilled glass, garnish with a lemon twist.

5. Manila Sunrise Delight

  • 1.5 oz Santa Ana Gin
  • 3 oz orange juice
  • 0.5 oz grenadine syrup
  • Orange slice and maraschino cherry for garnish *How to Make: Fill a highball glass with ice, add Santa Ana Gin and orange juice. Slowly pour in the grenadine to create a sunrise effect. Garnish with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.

Santa Ana Gin is more than a spirit; it’s a time-traveling experience, a symphony for the senses, and a tribute to a bygone era. So, whether you sip it neat or mix it into one of these sensational cocktails, you’re in for an adventure. Here’s to the love letter that is Santa Ana Gin, where history, philosophy, and exotic ingredients unite in a glass of pure magic. Cheers to an unforgettable journey! 🎷🌴🍸


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