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Meet the woman behind World Gin Day

We talk to the woman behind World Gin Day about her love of juniper, her career in science and her cheeky Martini-wielding online alias Gin Monkey.

Emma Stokes is that wonderful mashup of bartender and barfly. She's been a staple of the London drinks industry since this seasoned writer was kicking about Shoreditch as a graduate, and with one foot in the bar world and one in science - specifically trying to reduce the need for animal research - she's managed to craft a whole career around cocktails whilst still having a full-time job.

Like most bartenders in the UK, Emma got bitten by the hospitality bug when she was a university student. Unlike most of them however she chose to pursue both her studies and her new found love of spirits all at once - surprisingly not to the detriment of her exam results. But one spirit stood a cut above the rest, so while her fellow bartenders were falling for tequila and rum (this was the mid-noughties) Emma got acquainted with gin.

At the end of some work experience in Geneva for the LHCb project at none-other thanthe Large Hadron Collider (best name drop we've ever had in an interview) she wanted to work in a digital role within science - which is where you'll find her 9-5, dealing with all external communication for the NC3Rs, pioneering solutions to reduce animal testing. Proving she could turn her hand to digital meant utilising her well-established London bar knowledge to start a blog, giving birth to Gin Monkey.
undefined'I wanted to start a blog to see if I could do it and asked my friends what I knew enough about to flesh one out. There were two things, animal research and cocktails. From my experience living  in London during my masters I knew there weren't many websites talking about cocktail bars specifically. LAB was one of the first ones I found, they then sent me to Callooh Callay and from there I was directed to Casita. I wanted to write about the bars to help other people find these great spots. As for the name, that came about when I was trying to decide whether to write about cocktails or animal research,' she says. Thus Gin Monkey was born.

With her scientific brain engaged, Emma started to approach her bar reviews as Gin Monkey exactly as you'd hope they'd be carried out by all publications. Except of course, they aren't. 'I had a difficult, quite stubborn, idea in my head of what I wanted it to be. Which was impartial,' she says. That meant anonymously revisiting the bars several times and paying for her own drinks.

As more commercial sites launched such as Design My Night and magazines like the Cocktail Lovers kicked off Emma relinquished her reviewing duty - much to the joy of her bank account - and started down a different route, one that had already proved more popular with her readers, and that was gin.

Writing about gin, Emma has gained quite the following for being outspoken and calling brands out when they're using bad science to explain their product. Her latest twitterstorm #stopfuckinwithgin has resonated with quite a few of the other gin lovers on the platform and is providing some hilarious content.

Not just content with simply running a blog, helping friends at their bars and her full time job, however, Emma started helping Neil Houston with World Gin Day, launched in 2009. In 2013 Emma took over the day entirely, 'I took what was a day people tweeted about and built a website to try to get events together around the world,' she says

From the success of events in 30 countries last year, Emma and the team at DrinkUp.London are joining forced for 2018 World Gin Day LONDON - making this the first global amplification of the World Gin Day event; a four-day festival dedicated to celebrating gin across the capital. Click here to find out about the event!

Ultimately Emma is someone who's managed to cram a lot of her passions into her everyday life. Lucky for London, gin happened to be one of them.

Emma's Picks
Martini:
Ford's Gin, wet served with oysters at Swift.
Desert Island G&T: Beefeater and Schweppes with lemon to garnish.
Bar: Found in Shoreditch.