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Honey, I shrunk the gin!

At Hand Crafted Drinks Magazine we hear about new product launches all the time and we’re fortunate to be on the mailing list for an increasing number of producers and marketing agencies; we receive beers, wines and spirits that come in all shapes and sizes.

But, we’ve never received a drink that has been reduced to its essence so that it fits into a small dispenser, which is then rehydrated when you want to make a gin and tonic, for example.

That is, until now.

Mark Stone, founder of Hocus, has developed a unique process that removes the water and alcohol from any drink, to create a unique flavour extract that is sold in small dispensers.

When I interviewed Mark earlier this year, it became clear that the process has the potential to completely redefine the way companies produce and transport their drinks around the globe.

Shipping bottles of liquid is expensive, but sending small 30ml dispensers that contain the concentrate of the fully hydrated version, which are a fraction of the weight – but the same commercial value –  significantly increases the profitability for the drinks manufacturers and means that smaller producers suddenly have the chance to reach overseas markets.

Mark’s unique process – of course, he didn’t reveal any of his secrets – produces an alcohol-free essence of your favourite tipple. The process removes the alcohol and water, so to make that G&T, you put ice in your glass, pour in a decent tonic and then add two or three pumps of the concentrate.

We were sent a dispenser containing the essence of gin and when we sampled it as a G&T it tasted remarkably authentic.

But, it gets even better, because the essence is alcohol free, which means that you’re enjoying the experience of a ‘proper’ G&T or your favourite drink.

But, even if you had a dozen drinks you could still drive, because the drinks would contain less than 0.5% alcohol (typically it’s nearer to 0.1% ABV).

With more and more people opting to reduce their alcohol consumption, Hocus – whose initial aim was to be able to ship products around the globe at a fraction of the cost – is providing those wish to go out, but don’t wish to drink alcohol, with an alternative that is as good as the original product.

Alcohol-free beers have come a long way in recent years, but alcohol free spirits remain very hit-and-miss, and it’s more miss than hit, in our experience.

With Hocus you don’t have to compromise, whether you want to abstain or partake; the same dispenser works in both cases; to add in the alcohol you simply add a measure Hocus’s pure grain spirit, which can be produced in any country under licence – it doesn’t need to be shipped around the globe.

When I initially started speaking with Mark I was, I admit, somewhat sceptical: how can you reduce a bottle of a spirit, or any drink for that matter, down to the size of a small dispenser, which still retains the characteristics of the original drink?

He explained that the flavour extract is what makes any drink unique; the unique character you know and love from your favourite tipple, reduced by a factor of 50.

To enjoy your drink you simply add back in the water and alcohol to the concentrate, and enjoy, wherever you are in the world.

So, how does it all work? There are just three stages, as Mark explained:

  1. Alcoholic drinks have their water and alcohol extracted, to leave the flavour concentrate.
  2. The flavour essence can be transported anywhere in the world in 30ml dispensers, equal to 1.5 litres of the original drink (a 50x concentrate); there is also a super concentrate that can create 30 litres of the original drink from one 30ml dispenser.
  3. Add back the water and the alcohol (as required) to serve.

If you think about the concept it’s no more bizarre than, say, packet soup – the essence of a hydrated soup is shipped in a small sachet; all the water has been removed, which you add back in when you want to eat the soup. The dehydrated contents, around 100 grammes per packet, are shipped at a fraction of the cost of soups in tins, bottles or cartons.

We were sent both the gin concentrate and a bottle of Hocus spirit, and when we mixed our drinks as directed I genuinely could not tell the difference between Hocus and gin from a bottle, which is no real surprise, as Mark eloquently summarised:

“This process works on any alcoholic drink, wine, beer or spirits all work really well, but we’ve started with a focus on spirits. We’ve put the essence into a dispenser – just 3 squirts are all you need for a flawless gin and tonic, which tastes exactly the same as the original version, because it is the original version.”

For more information visit their website