If you are a gin drinker, then a classic gin and tonic is your usual go-to cocktail of choice. But now gin brand Bombay Sapphire East is enhancing and personalizing your drinking experience to make mixing drinks a journey with its new app that allows users to make customized gin and tonics.
Bombay Sapphire gave guests an exclusive look at the new app, Tonic Journey, at the Custom Tonic Bar at the Tribeca Film Festival Storyscapes exhibition in New York City. Guests got to make their own custom gin and tonic with help from Bittercube, the flavor house that provides the extracts for the tonics.
"We created an app that will take guests through certain experiences so that we can narrow down what they like in terms of their interests," said Gary Hayward, Bombay Sapphire Gin's North American brand ambassador.
The Tonic Journey iPad app asks the user 10 questions, such as "What is your favorite place to vacation," to find personality traits such as if the user is adventurous or not and if they prefer spicy, earthy or floral flavors. The data then helps mixologists narrow the taste spectrum to find the perfect tonic flavor that blends nicely with the Thai lemongrass and Vietnamese black peppercorn found in Bombay Sapphire East.
After users selected their taste preferences, they were invited to the bar with Bittercube's Nick Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz where they get a history about gin and tonic (which, thanks to the compound quinine, was first consumed for medicinal purposes such as preventing malaria).
As they were given the brief history lesson, guests got to taste the flavors that could be used in their custom tonic, including fennel, cinnamon, yuzu, sassafras, elderflower, ginger and eucalyptus — just to name a few.
The Bittercube mixologists then used quinine and lemongrass as a base, and added in the flavors the guests selected based on their taste preferences. While sipping on their new creations, guests then got to create a name for their gin and tonic and design the bottle. In three weeks, a bottle of the custom tonic syrup (40 servings) with a custom label included will be delivered to their house — we'll drink to that.
While this is a unique experience for the gin consumer, the app can also help bartenders make drinks on-site that will have their customers craving more since they are tailored specifically for them. Instead of just ordering a simple cocktail, liquor connoisseurs have the opportunity to share their own stories with others while making their drink experience a journey where it's worth savoring each sip. Bombay Sapphire will send the bar a bottle of the extract that serves 1,800 cocktails—all they will have to do is add the Bombay Sapphire East.
"What's interesting about utilizing this app is we are able to take people's flavor profile information and catalogue it, and then we have a baseline of where we can take the idea of this tonic rather than kind of going in blind," Koplowitz said. "The app allows us to take these ideas from attendees or bartenders ... and focus in on what people want out of a tonic."
The iPad app is currently being tested in bars across the country, but gin drinkers experienced the journey for themselves at the Custom Tonic Bar from April 16 to 19.
The bar was part of the Storyscapes Exhibit and Lounge, where visitors could see this year's five immersive projects considered for the 2015 Storyscapes Award at an interactive installation at the Bombay Sapphire House of Imagination, 121 Varick St., 7th Floor. Storyscapes is new to the Tribeca Film Festival and celebrates new trends in digital media, recognizing filmmakers and content creators who employ an interactive, web-based or cross-platform approach to story creation.
Photo: Lauren Keating