This remarkable gin is the brainchild of accomplished mixologist, barman and restaurateur Argentinian Renato "Tato" Giovannoni. His cocktail lounge—Florería Atlántico—in Buenos Aires is the stuff of legends and perennial recipient of best bar in Latin America honors. Located beneath an unassuming wine and flower shop, the popular club is accessed through a heavy, refrigerator door. The club at first became the hangout for émigrés and immigrants largely from Europe. Today, the bar has a more contemporary appeal. While the food is terrific, it's his gin-based cocktails that are attracting most of the attention.
Giovannoni's other claim to fame is Principe de los Apostoles Mate Gin, an infused spirit distilled in Mendoza. The artisanal gin is crafted in small, 200 liters batches in a copper pot still on a foundation of grain neutral spirits. The botanicals used include juniper berries, coriander seeds, yerba mate leaves, peppermint, eucalyptus and pink grapefruit zest. The botanicals are macerated individually, filtered and blended. The finished gin is bottled at 42% alcohol (84 proof).
"I am both excited and proud to introduce the world to Principe de los Apostoles Mate Gin. I hope that increasingly more distillers will create original botanical blends that step away from the conventional, juniper-forward London dry model," comments owner and creator Giovannoni. "Ours is a genuine Argentine botanical mix that celebrates the way we drink tereré, a cold version of mate, during the hot season. I suppose the fact that Principe de los Apostoles is the first Latin gin doesn't hurt our chances of success."
Trust me, there's nothing remotely like this South American gem on your backbar. It has pristine clarity, a silky textured, lightweight body and a wafting citrus, eucalyptus and spice bouquet. The requisite piney juniper aroma makes a brief appearance later in the finish. Even at 84-proof, the gin raises little in the way of excess heat. It expands quickly revealing the flavors of yerba mate, pink grapefruit, anise and cinnamon with light juniper notes on the lingering fade.
Before rushing off to make drinks with a bottle of Principe de los Apostoles, take a moment to sample it neat, or slightly chilled. Your patience will certainly be rewarded. If you intend on using the gin in a cocktail, we strongly recommend the Espuma Negroni (Principe de los Apostoles Mate Gin, Campari, Cynar, grapefruit juice and a dash of lemon juice syrup). It may well be the best version of the Negroni since the Negroni made its debut.