Santa Ana Gin Takes You Back To The Roaring Twenties

Last week saw the official launch of Santa Ana Gin here in the UK at a lavish party in London’s Soho, where we were transported back to Manila in the 1920s, with dancers, live swing music and a curated menu of Santa Ana cocktails, evoking the glamour and decadence of days gone by.

Santa Ana is a new gin that has been inspired by the unique dancehall days of 1920s in Manila and its crown jewel, the legendary Santa Ana Cabaret, which was a musical playground for Manileños of the time. Its new, namesake gin evokes the glamour and decadence of this nostalgic era, set in the middle of the splendour of the Philippine Art Deco Movement.

The legendary Santa Ana Cabaret was opened by US soldier John Canson and his local backers and soon became the “largest cabaret in the world with the best dance music in the Orient,” attracting well-heeled Manileños as well as many American visitors.  It was by all accounts a playground for the rich and famous, with Santa Ana’s guests dancing to the music of Vic Hernandez and the Swing-sational, with a range of styles, from the Charleston to the tango and waltzes, blues and jazz. This was very much a time of optimism and opulence in the Philippines.

Manila became a hub of entertainment from the early 1910s to the 1940s, with the post-Spanish colonisation era ushering in American administration and influence, which in turn brought investment to the city. The growth of Manila as a great Art Deco city was a prominent part of this influence, with a notable contribution from the famous American architect Daniel Burnham, who designed many of Chicago’s most iconic Art Deco landmarks.

Today, Santa Ana Gin is distilled in the Charente region of France to extract four native Philippine botanicals: Ylang Ylang, Alpinia, Calamansi and Dalandan. Santa Ana’s combination of delicate floral notes and fresh tropical citrus palate complement the seven traditional botanicals used in the gin, which include Juniper, Bitter Orange, Angelica and Orris Roots and Fennel, all of which go to create a richly exotic floral taste.

The Philippines is in fact one of the worlds’ biodiversity hot spots and has a range of flora and fauna that is quite unique in the world, including Santa Ana’s signature botanical Ylang-Ylang, which is also used as the main ingredient in luxury perfumes such as Chanel No. 5.

Santa Ana Gin Bottle

The beautifully crafted Santa Ana Gin comes in an exquisite Art Deco inspired bespoke bottle, evoking the nostalgia of a smoky tropical champagne room, big band swing along with the opulence, glamour and decadence of days gone by.

Santa Ana is also the perfect mixer for some classic cocktails, the first of which is of course the classic Gin & Tonic, made with 30ml Santa Ana Gin and Fentimans Naturally Light Tonic Water. It is tall, crisp and refreshing, highlighting the Philippine floral and citrus notes of Santa Ana Gin.

Next is The Martini, made with 70ml Santa Ana Gin and 10ml Mancino Vermouth Secco. As Bernard de Voto once said:

“The proper union of gin and vermouth is a great and sudden glory; it is one of the happiest marriages on earth, and one of the shortest lived.”

The Pomelo Spritz is our third cocktail, made with 30ml Santa Ana Gin, 10ml Agave Syrup, 45ml Pomelo Juice and Soda Water. The refreshing Pomelo Spritz pays homage to the famed Gin-Pom of the Philippines, lightened with the effervescence of soda water and gently sweetened with agave syrup.

And finally, The French 75, for which you will need 45ml Santa Ana Gin, 25ml Lemon Juice, 20ml Simple Syrup and some Champagne to top.

This Harry McElhone classic was originally known as the 75, first appearing around World War I at the New York Bar in Paris. The name came from the combination of ingredients which was said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75mm field gun!

For more information on Santa Ana Gin, please visit:

Author Bio:

Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man On The Ground, a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.

Photographs courtesy of Santa Ana Gin

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