The Genesis of Gin Explorers Club – Interview with Anjali Batra & Shuchir Suri, Founders of the festival

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by Rajeev Mokashi

From London and New York to Paris, Canberra, Hong Kong, Stockholm, Cape Town and Lyon… many big cities around the world host annual Gin festivals. Not to be left behind, India’s largest celebration of Gin, Gin Explorers Club (GEC) curated by Food Talk India forayed with their annual festival, marking milestones with increased attendees across New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru over the years.

Ushering in the new year with their second edition of the festival – Gin Explorers Club or GEC returns to Mumbai to revel revellers to a fantasy land with a two-day-to-night (January 7 & 8, 2023) fest exclusively celebrating Gin. Lovers of this audacious spirit can indulge in gin-esque cocktails, music acts, impeccable experiences, and magical vibes keeping high spirits intact. The attendees at the Ginfest can experience a multitude of Gin tasting stations by twelve of the coolest homegrown and international brands. Come explore, taste, discover, experience, enjoy, and raise a glass to the terrific spirit that is GIN!

Gin Explorers Club

Behind this symbolic festival are Anjali Batra and Shuchir Suri. For those who may not know them, Anjali and Shuchir pioneered India’s first Facebook community of food lovers way back in 2013 followed by the experiential and phenomenal growth of Gin Explorers Club in 2017. Sensing the heightened interest and curiosity surrounding the spirit, GEC was launched and an incredible Gin journey took wings. TheGlitz spoke with them in the context of the Gin Explorers Club.

Anjali Batra & Shuchir Suri, Founders, Gin Explorers Club
Anjali Batra & Shuchir Suri, Founders, Gin Explorers Club

Anjali & Shuchir, for our curious readers that are enthused to explore the Gin culture and community, can you tell us why you chose Gin over other spirits?

Because gin is the most spirited spirit of all it’s like a creative jungle out there, and brands are coming out with the coolest botanical combinations, interesting stories and so many innovations. And we built this festival as a canvas for all these brands to come and share their stories with our community.

Gin, unlike other spirits, has so much character- and what’s great is you can drink it just as easily at noon over brunch or a 5 pm Gin and tonic or a heady cocktail at night… the versatility of Gin is what made us pick this spirit.

2023 rings in the second edition of Gin Explorers Club in Mumbai, making it undoubtedly the smartest Gin festival in India. How big and different will this be as you take it to other cities in the coming months?

We thrive on getting bigger with each edition, as we continue to see a phenomenal response from the city- last edition we had about 10,000 people in Mumbai show up and this time we are expecting anything between 12-15k.

We just did Bangalore in Nov and are exploring 5 more cities in this year to expand to…and maybe even a global scale one day-dreams are big for us.

How has the festival grown over the years?

We started a small experiment in 2018, with an expected footfall of 2000 people and 5 Gin bars – we are now 15,000 people per festival, with over 15 Gin bars, 10 restaurants and tonnes of partners. It just keeps getting bigger and what’s the most exciting part – no matter how big we get, we feel like the demand is always greater than what we are able to supply – and that pushes us to grow.

What is Food Talk India’s role in this festival? And what do you hope to “bring” to the Gin community?

Food Talk India is the sister brand of GEC, It’s what we started our journey with as a community- from that, we emerged to build a Gin community called Gin Explorers Club – a space for people to come, sip, learn and fall in love with Gin- be it through our digital channel or our festivals.

Food Talk curates the entire experience of GEC- From design to production – we are a powerhouse of all things and have built GEC with so much love, care and learnings from our 9 years in the industry.

In your opinion, how are the growth of micro and artisanal breweries for the Gin industry in India?

What’s amazing is to make gin you need all of a tiny room and one pot still – so Artisanal Gin distillers are the reason why this space is buzzing and young brands are popping up on the Indian gin scene. Almost every month I hear of a new gin coming out of Goa. The ease of making gin vs any other spirit is the winner here you buy a base spirit and then distill it in a pot still with botanicals – this space is just starting to grow and I see expanding.

Which Gin producers are your current favourites?

It’s hard to pick favorites when there is so much amazing stuff happening in this space, but some great innovations on the homegrown Gin front that need to be celebrated- Samsara with their 3 new flavors and India’s first pink Gin.

Greater Than has dropped their latest Broken Bat- that’s blending whiskey lovers to try gin.

Stranger and Sons are always at the top of their game with some of the most interesting Limited edition drops.

THE LIST CAN GO ON AND ON

As a trend with festivals, any future plans to host GEC awards? Also, are you working on new projects in the Gin world?

Nothing planned on the awards side so far… but lots more planned with GEC-  5 cities this year – bigger and smaller formats. We are taking GEC all across India

Thanks for your time to talk with TheGlitz, Anjali & Shuchir.

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