Where it all started
As long-term residents of this amazing community, we wouldn't dream of making any definitive claim as to what makes Brixton remarkable or why its unique.
What we wanted to do was make a really distinctive and delicious gin that would do the place justice and in a small way, supports the local economy. We also wanted to find out what we could grow and source locally to make our gin.
That's why we have partnered with the small family firm that makes Brixton Bees raw honey and why Urban Growth, an organisation that transforms neglected spaces into teeming gardens, is growing botanicals in Brixton that will go into our gin.
In choosing a recipe for Brixton Gin, we wanted to create something that was distinctive; a memorable taste that you could recall the next day. That's why we opted to use wood violets and hibiscus in our botanical mix. They give our gin delicate, aromatic notes to go alongside the more traditional juniper and citrus expressions. We believe it is genuinely unique - and delicious.
We call it Brixton Dry Gin. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
Co-founders, Brixton Gin.
Meet the founders
The story of Brixton Gin began a long-time ago, when long-term Brixton resident, Andrew Murray-Watson, was in Guzzl, his gourmet grocery store in Brixton Village. Andrew was standing in front of a shelf of gins from across London and the UK. It seemed strange, he mused to himself, that Brixton did not have its own gin.
Now fast forward a few years. Andrew and his partner in life, Calandra Smith, have just had a baby. The unthinkable had happened - a pandemic had struck and everyone had been told to lockdown at home.
Like many people at that time, Andrew and Calandra were sitting in their garden with too much time on their hands. Andrew has a large G&T in his hand. “Did you know that Brixton doesn’t have its own gin,” Andrew says to Calandra. “Hmmm?,” comes the reply. “Well, maybe we ought to do something about it. Or we can carry on reading about which plants to grow in this tiny garden.”
And just like that, in a cobbled back garden a few feet from Windrush Square, with a sleeping baby in the flat and a shaggy black dog under the table, the idea for Brixton Gin was given form.
Over the next six months, with Rosie (that’s the new baby) growing fast, Andrew and Calandra pull together a team of people who can turn their idea into a reality.
And then, something amazing happens. Brixton Gin is actually a thing. A real thing that looks and tastes great.
And is full of locally sourced botanicals like raw honey and wood violets that are being grown in disused spaces in Brixton.
And then something equally amazing happens: people start buying it. And they really like it. And then those people buy another bottle. And then pubs want to buy it. And restaurants. And wholesalers. And people on Instagram who actually know something about the drinks industry ask to get involved.
And three years later, Brixton Gin has won awards and is growing steadily and is a proper little business. Rosie is almost at school and now has a little brother to constantly steal her toys.
Brixton has always been a community that does things its own way. Botanicals grown on the urban streets of Brixton?! It’s not your usual origin story. The result is hopefully something that really stands out in a crowded market
And that’s the short version of the Story of Brixton Gin.
Gustav Grais, the chap on our bottle, was born Gustav Eichler in Marienburg, West Prussia on 1 December, 1860, the son of Carl and Louise Eichler. In England, he changed his name to Grais and ran a circus of baboons and zebra. He was also an accomplished trapeze artist, juggler and an all-round showman. A pioneer of the parachute, he undertook daredevil jumps from gas filled balloons all over the world.
Legend has it, Herr Gustav had three local "wives" and at least 10 children.
This image shows Grais riding along Brixton High Street, close to where he stabled his zebras. Brixton has always been home to maverick characters. Now it has a gin that’s just as bold.