In Finland, the Gin Long Drink – or lonkero – is a category all its own. The guys at Kyrö Distillery Company have remixed their nation’s favourite drink, giving this supremely Finnish tipple a measure or two of their distinctive style. Here’s everything you need to know about the lovely Cranberry and Rosemary Gin Long Drink in August's Gin of the Month box.
When Helsinki beat out five US cities to host the 1952 Olympics, the organisers had to find a solution to one very unusual problem: they needed to find an easily-portable, all-in-one alcoholic drink that visitors to Finland – which had overturned a complete prohibition on alcohol just twenty years earlier and still had a tetchy relationship with booze – could drink while they watched the events.
As Kyrö Distillery Company’s Miika explains, the answer was a little… unusual. He says, “Someone decided to put the two least Finnish things in the world together: gin and grapefruit juice.”
Called Gin Long Drink, or lonkero, this canned combo was a huge hit at the Olympics, and its popularity has persisted until the present. Initially, just one company was allowed to produce Gin Long Drink; but these days, following a loosening of the strict alcohol regulations, several Finnish companies have gotten in on the game, putting their own twists on this classic national drink.
That list now includes Kyrö Distillery Company, whose cranberry-based long drink members unpacked in their August Gin of the Month boxes. “Gin Long Drink is very popular where we’re from,” Miika explains, “so when we started making gin it made sense to eventually make a long drink.”
With the help of a local brewer and a little bit of creativity, the Kyrö Distilleryteam has put a distinctly modern twist on this old favourite.
Miika says, “The whole key was that we didn’t want to make a teen drink. The challenge was to lower the sugars as far as they could go without adding anything synthetic. The result is a very adult flavour profile, very tart.”
To enjoy this drink the classic Finnish way, Miika recommends keeping it simple. Simply crack open the bottle and pour into a tall glass packed with ice. Perfection!