Scottish gin brand Pickering's lands in China with debut of first dedicated bar

Continuing the current explosion in popularity for Scottish gin, an Edinburgh gin maker is about make its mark in China with the official opening of Beijing’s first dedicated gin bar.

Published 25th Jul 2018
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

The red carpet opening of Pickering’s Gin and Seafood Bar last Saturday saw 100 local dignitaries, celebrities and influencers from China’s capital gather to enjoy a combination of Scotland’s finest craft gin alongside some of the best seafood – including oysters – served with a delicate Pickering’s Original Recipe 1947 gin and celery foam.

Located in Chaoyang District, one of Beijing’s liveliest hotspots for wining and dining, the purpose-built venue is, says the brand team, part of a long-term export strategy for the Edinburgh distillery.

Current plans include opening as many as 19 more Pickering’s Gin and Seafood Bars in key cities across China. Developed in conjunction with PandaBrew, pioneers of the fledgling Chinese craft beer scene, the 270 square metre venue comprises a 120-cover restaurant, three bars and a live music stage.

Ex-London gin club manager and now Pickering’s UK brand ambassador Stevie Watson has collaborated with the bar’s award-winning head mixologist John Hung to create a bespoke cocktail menu designed to best introduce gin to the people of Beijing.

Customers can sample the “Ultimate Gin and Tonic Experience” with Pickering’s gin sous-vide with butterfly peas, lemongrass and olive oil.

These new expressions are then paired with a flower suspended in cleverly engineered crystal-clear ice blocks. Bespoke cocktail offerings include a Distilled Negroni infusing Pickering’s Navy Strength Gin with Sichuan pepper and the Peacock Egg, which is served like a yolk in an eggshell.

The new bar stocks the full Pickering’s Gin range and aims to take advantage of a growing thirst for spirits among China’s affluent consumers. Currently one of the world’s biggest spirits consumers, China imported around 52.81 million litres of spirits from overseas in the first nine months of 2017, in a market worth roughly £608 million, according to research site Global Data.

Head Mixologist John Hung. Picture: Pickering's

Marcus Pickering, co-founder and head of export, believes the bar is an important milestone for Pickering’s Gin, Scotland and the UK in China. He said: “We are bringing a unique offering to the Chinese market with our range of gins distilled in the heart of Scotland’s capital. This is about showcasing the best Scotland, and indeed, what Britain has to offer to the East.

“In the next six months we will work towards having the seafood on the menu sourced exclusively from Scotland, including lobster, oysters and mussels. We are working with the Department of International Trade and Scottish Development International to make this a truly Scottish destination in Beijing.

“We have been overwhelmed with our Chinese welcome to the market here and we’re confident this is just the first of many Pickering’s Gin bars in China.”

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Marcus Pickering and Matt Gammell. Picture: Pickering's

Matt Gammell, head distiller and co-founder, added: “This is a big step for us and we are grateful to have such an experienced partner in PandaBrew. We’re sure that the quality of our gin, combined with the provenance of the food on offer, will shine through and become an instant hit with Beijing foodies and expats alike”.

At only four-years old, the Summerhall Distillery has grown rapidly, most recently upgrading their bottling line in order to prepare for increased export demand from both China and the USA.

The popular gin brand has also recently made improvements to its visitor experience, in anticipation of increased tourism from their growing brand visibility.

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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