Last Hope Distillery is one of the only real cocktail bars in Puerto Natales, a horseshoe of a city that wraps around a windy inlet in Chilean Patagonia. To enter, visitors buzz, speakeasy-style, then hang up their coats and settle in at the bar. A server sets a glass down.
“Hi,” the server says. “Have you ever tried gin?”
The question can surprise international visitors, most of whom, familiar with the juniper-flavored spirit, have come for a hike in nearby Torres del Paine National Park. But gin is new to some Chileans, so Last Hope’s servers don’t make assumptions.
The approach started out of necessity, said Kiera Shiels, who moved to Chile from Australia with her partner, Matt Oberg, and opened the bar. Guests would turn up, unsure of what to expect. “They hadn’t had gin,” Ms. Shiels said. “They’d barely had cocktails.”
Last Hope, which began selling gin in 2017, was one of the first gin distillers in Chile. But in the past few years, the country’s gin industry has exploded. From Last Hope (in the south) to Gin Nativo (in the north), there are now about 100 gin brands across the country. And many are winning international recognition.
Just last year, a gin made by Gin Elemental, distilled on the outskirts of Santiago, was awarded a gold medal at the SIP awards, an international, consumer-judged spirits competition, among others. Gin Provincia, made in Chilean wine country, earned the second-highest score at the London Spirits Competition, just one of its honors. And Tepaluma Gin, in the Patagonian highlands and rainforests, won a gold at the International Wine and Spirit Competition, one of several awards.
“You will see a lot more coming from Chile,” said Andrea Zavala Peña, who founded Tepaluma Gin — one of Chile’s first distilleries — with her husband, Mark Abernethy, in 2017.
“Whether the world knows it or not,” she said, “we’re coming.”
Fifty years after a coup established a brutal 17-year dictatorship, and just four years after an eruption of mass protests, Chile continues to struggle with deep social divisions. But the country is also working hard to remake its international reputation.
Long known for its wine, Chile is now an established destination for adventure travelers after it expanded its natural parks and enticed more visitors to Patagonia. Chilean gin, its makers say, can act as a bridge between these two marketing pitches, building on Chile’s reputation for producing distinctive alcohol and effectively bottling its wilderness.
“We have one of the last wild areas of the world,” Ms. Zavala Peña explained. “And the wild has a particular taste.”
Capped by the Atacama Desert, shod by Patagonia, and squeezed between the Andes and the Pacific, Chile has no shortage of natural diversity.
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One of the best ways to get to know a country is through its food and beverage offerings. For the holiday season, check out these excellent wines from under-the-radar wine regions in different parts of the world (which we should be drinking more from!) for your wanderlust wine-loving friends who are eager to try something new. Note: All wines mentioned are available in the United States.
Travel searches by Indian travelers for Thailand have spiked. Online travel agency Agoda’s search data for the peak December travel period shows recent visa policy changes have impacted travel preferences and top destination choices for Indian travelers.
One of the biggest impediments to recovery so far has been a lack of airline capacity and competition. Conditions are gradually improving, which is expected to benefit travellers as the year progresses, but the concern remains regarding the lack of available seats on services between Australia and Europe, via the Middle East.
LATAM Airlines was the market share leader among companies flying between Brazil and the U.S. in the quarter ended in October after resuming non-stop flights to Los Angeles, data from local authority ANAC showed on Friday.
It is expected that travel spending this holiday season will be higher than any of the last four years, at least. According to Skyscanner’s recent survey of 18,000 travelers, “against a backdrop of higher average fares vs pre-pandemic ... people are continuing to invest their discretionary spend in leisure trips through 2023 and into 2024.” Convenience in travel will be everything this year — a disposition cruise travelers are experts at. According to Caryn Seidman Becker, CEO and co-founder of Clear, "we know that travelers increasingly prioritize time as one of their most valuable assets ― they're looking for ways to minimize wasted travel time and maximize convenience."
For many air travelers, sitting in a cramped economy seat for a long-haul flight isn’t exactly their idea of a good time. But a handful of airlines are making it easier to snag some extra space in economy, thanks to what are generally referred to as “neighbor-free seat” offerings.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Kelsey Frampton, a 21-year-old business student from Fresno, California, who's studying in Barcelona. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
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