It is neither Malbec wine nor an infusion: the yerba mate gin is a new drink that is only produced in Argentina.
By Federico Tibytt
Argentina is internationally recognized for producing high-quality wines that can be compared to the best of Europe. However, the country’s gastronomic legacy also relates to the consumption of gin due to the enormous influence of European immigrants who arrived during the first half of the 20th century. Celebrating this tradition—and inspired by local flavors—businessman and bartender Renato "Tato" Giovannonni presented in 2013 in Buenos Aires the first premium gin with an Argentinean identity, the Príncipe de los Apóstoles (Prince of the Apostles).
Giovannoni—one of the country`s leading mixologists—after having worked in creative menus and as a consultant for prominent local and international bars— opened in Buenos Aires his own place, Florería Atlántico. Now, in its first year, this bar was chosen by the prestigious international publication Drinks International as the best bar in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Encouraged by his international recognition within the industry, Giovannonni embarked on a research work of 24 months which led to the perfect recipe for the first gin to count— among its ingredients— the emblematic "yerba mate".
Yerba mate is a plant that grows in South America, and whose leaves and branches are used to make an infusion that has stimulant effects similar to those of caffeine.
Known colloquially as mate, it is the most popular hot drink of Argentina. In fact, the name of the new Giovannonni product is a tribute to the town of Apostles, in the province of Misiones, considered the national capital of the yerba mate.
The result of this long research process is a clear and colorless distillate with an exquisite herbaceous presence and refreshing flavors of eucalyptus, peppermint, anise seeds, and a spicy hint of white pepper. The aromas and flavors that give it a distinctive identity complement perfectly with the typical ingredients of European gins such as coriander, citrus peel, pink grapefruit, and the ever-present juniper berries.
On the palate, the Prince of the Apostles has a good body, dry but fruity texture, showing an excellent balance for the preparation of traditional cocktails like the Martini and the classic Tom Collins.
Its creators describe this spirit as a New World gin, since it moves away from the typical winter notes of juniper berries in British gin, using them only as a basis for the development of more representative and contemporary regional distillates.
Since its introduction, this new product—made entirely in copper stills in Sol de los Andes distillery in the province of Mendoza— has enjoyed excellent acceptance in the bar scene of Argentina and in the Old Continent, where it is served in major Argentinian gourmet restaurants.
Príncipe de los Apóstoles is a new experience in high-quality gins. It clearly identifies with its South American origin while respecting and honoring its undeniable European roots. ■
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