When New Zealand-based Scapegrace Distillery decided to make its own gin, it knew it wanted something that stood out. It went with the color black.
"From a fashion perspective, black's always been seen as quite cool," said Mark Neal, Scapegrace Distillery co-founder. "If you're looking at music over time, especially some of the hard rock days and that sort of stuff, black seems to be slick and interesting and maybe edgy."
If you're going to wear all black every day, you might as well extend that to the drink you're sipping on.
"For us, black works really well," he added. "The gin is in antique Genever bottles, which kind of works to the dark history of gin — and I think the color black is cool."
Black has always had a connotation of opposition, which of course made certain types of people gravitate towards it. It was also one of the first colors used in art, dating back to cave paintings in the prehistoric days. Author Michel Pastoureau explained in his book Black that though the color was associated with the macabre and the underworld, it also became connected with monastic life due to its attachment to solemnity.
"Black has become the symbol of creative artists for the past 30 years, and it is only natural that black still dominates Halloween creative concepts and campaigns," said Mathieu Champigny, CoCreativ and Industrial Color CEO. "Dating back to before the 1940s, paper companies commercialized the colors black and orange in October. Costumes and party decorations all made from paper were selling swiftly and as businesses noticed the rising popularity of celebrating, and more manufacturers began to follow suit."
The New Black
And, with Halloween around the corner, black is the new… black.
"Everyone naturally gravitates toward colors that imply affluence and seriousness, especially when it's the time of the year to attend low-key social events dressed as a zombie cosmonaut." said Brian Hucek, creative director at the advertising and branding agency Planet Propaganda.
It's not just for the spooky season, however. The color has also been tied to the seasons, especially as the chill sets in.
"Black is a seasonal transition from fall to winter, orange to black, warmth to cold," Champigny explained. "Although there is debate, many people believe that people break out their black sweaters at this time of year because it represents the cold and dark of winter. If we welcome in black, or the dark to ourselves, we may just be looking to make friends with the dark, be it of Halloween or the cold to come."
Not a Color
While we call black a color, it is actually the absence of color, points out Scapegrace's Neal. It combines all the colors of red, orange, yellow, blue, and purple. So to create its gin, it had to look at color theory.
"We knew that theory of these colors will create the color black," Neal said. "What we did then is we spent about just over a year finding botanicals that could relate to each one of those five colors, which had a color property but also had a flavor property."
For red, it used aronia berries from Asia. Orange came from saffron. Pineapple extract provided the basis for yellow, while butterfly pea flower provided the blue. Purple came from kumara, which is a native sweet potato in New Zealand.
"From a taste profile, you get something that is sweet, earthy, tropical, floral and savory, which is what we call the taste of nature's black," he said.
Whether you're sipping a cocktail or strutting your stuff around town, black will always make you stand out.
"Black Sabbath chose to not be called Fuchsia Sabbath for a reason," Planet Propoganda's Hucek said. "That exact same reason applies to reasonable Halloween color palettes."
Check out some of Scapegrace's black gin cocktails below.
Black Cat Negroni
2oz Scapegrace Black Gin
0.25oz Raspberry liquor
2 dashes Chocolate bitters
Black Cat Negroni
- Combine all ingredients in a rocks glass.
- Add ice and stir.
- Garnish with an orange twist.
1 ½ oz Scapegrace Black
½ oz Italicus
½ oz Lavender and Thyme Syrup
Pour over of:
1 oz Prosecco
½ oz Lemon Juice
Spellbound. Courtesy of Scapegrace
- Stir together the Scaprgrace Black Gin, Italicus and Lavender-Thyme Syrup with ice.
- Strain and pour into a Nick & Nora or coupe glass.
- Drizzle the Prosecco and Lemon Juice on top.