In honour of our Spanish Gin of the Month, Siderit, August's Gin Joint of the Month is a stylish Spanish cocktail bar - located right here in the UK!
Did you know that right in the middle of Newcastle you can find a small slice of sunny Spain? All you need do is head to Dacantus, where the tapas are to die for and the drinks menu reads like an ode to one of Spain’s greatest loves: gin!
With a gin list 250 strong, Dacantus is the brainchild of Toni Almiron. Originally from Granada in Spain, Toni watched as the gin revolution blossomed there, a full 10 years earlier than the current renaissance rocking Britain. When he moved to the UK, he decided to bring the excitement to his new home of Newcastle.
According to Shaun Stewart, the General Manager: “Toni wanted to bring not only the idea of great gin tonics, but the concept of eating and drinking together, without being classified as either a bar or a restaurant. So he planned and opened Dacantus!”
Now approaching its third anniversary, Dacantus has made major waves on Newcastle’s gin scene. In their special ‘gin lab’ the master mixologists behind the Dacantus bar combine the world’s best gins, a selection of over 23 different tonics and spectacular botanicals into perfect G&Ts.
“We like to match each gin with a tonic to create a perfect serve,” Shaun says. “It’s a little like science, experimenting with different combinations and flavours. Hence, we call it a lab!”
The mad scientists working here have so far compiled 60 perfect serves. “We feel this is a little overwhelming – especially since we have so many gins on the menu – so right now a small majority of people prefer to ask us for a ‘surprise gin and tonic’ rather than choosing directly off the menu. This just shows the belief – or faith! – in our product knowledge and recommendations.”
Indeed, the staff at Dacantus have been put through their ginny paces, frequently attend training sessions and tasting days where they try and taste new gin and tonics. Guiding visitors through the world of gin on offer is a huge priority.
“I always ask my staff to be honest in advising on our gins,” Shaun says, “and we often get praised on how helpful and welcoming the staff are.”
In addition to stocking a huge array of fine gins, and rare and unusual tonics, Dacantus takes the serve itself very seriously. In true Spanish style, a Dacantus gin tonic will arrive at your table in an oversized balloon glass. These glasses – aside from holding more gin – allow you to savour your spirit’s aroma. And, because the stem is long, you can hold the glass without warming up its contents.
If the ice looks a bit unusual, that’s because the cubes are oversized. “We get lots of comments on the ice,” Shaun says. “The oversized ice cubes melt more slowly and don’t water down your favourite tipple. The colder the better for your gin tonic!”
And don’t forget the garnish! At Dacantus, which embraces the best of Spanish gin tradition, your bartender will choose from a range of fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices – and even crystallised violet petals, bourbon vanilla extract or bitters.
“Long gone are the days of the slice of lemon or lime,” Shaun laughs. “Botanicals can enhance the flavour or aroma of a gin, to give us the full experience. Squeezing that lime simply ruins the gin!”
As you’re drinking your gin tonic, you can choose from a delicious menu of Spanish classics. Including, of course, tapas! From paella to croquettas and beyond, these scrumptious small plates are a perfect complement to a Spanish G&T.
Shaun explains, “In Spain, drinking goes hand-in-hand with eating and is much more informal, which is what we’re still about at Dacantus.”
Fortunately for gin lovers across the nation, Shaun and his team are committed to passing on their hard-won gin knowledge. The staff here run regular gin tastings for the public, which have been growing more popular, but if you have a hankering for knowledge you’re always welcome to simply ask.
“Our customers seem to just love coming in and trying something new from the menu recommended by our staff,” Shaun says. “All our staff are able to offer advice on the gins and have a real passion for the spirit, which our customers love.”