When drinking a nice gin and tonic, how often are you reminded of cars, motocross racing, and the world of automotives? I’m guessing not so much — but ENGINE is here to change that.
As the name exudes, ENGINE is merging the realm of motors with Italian craft-made gin. Why? Well because founder Paolo Dalla Mora, who works in fashion and spirits, always had a great passion for the great cultural car moments of the 1980s, like the timeless Ford custom-painted Gran Torino from TV show Starsky and Hutch.
"I was working on my bike in the garage in Barbaresco drinking a cup of the traditional Langa digestive with hot water, lemon peel, and sage leaves. I thought it would be interesting to reproduce these flavors in an alcoholic way", says Dalla Mora. "Once the formula was defined, I started imagining what the aesthetics of it could be, and considering that it all took shape in my garage, I thought it would be suitable for ENGINE to have an identity that fits with that."
Every detail of the product is a tribute to the world of cars and workshops. Unlike the crisp and clean alcohol bottles you see on the shelves today, ENGINE stands out from the crowd. The bottle isn’t actually a bottle, in fact, it’s a half-liter tin can that references oil and fuel containers used in the motor industry. Dirtier, unexpected, and completely distorting the concept of a bottle, ENGINE is meant to pay homage to the bond between classic cocktails and the world of automotives. Take Harry Craddock's Bentley cocktail – dedicated to Woolf 'Babe' Barnato and to the fearsome London Bentley Boys who for three consecutive years won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Or the classic Golden Cadillac Cocktail created in the '60s in the United States in honor of the film 'The Solid Gold Cadillac', not to mention the Automobile Cocktail iteration which dates back to 1903 and 1913.
100% Italian and 100% organic, ENGINE uses historical methods of craft-alcohol making to acquire its special taste. Created by master distillers in small amounts and bottled by hand in a lab in Alta Langa in Italy, its formula pays tribute to rosolios (sweet liqueurs), cordials, and liqueurs made from sage and lemon which in the past were ancient, Italian digestive remedies. From notes of juniper and licorice root to lemon peel and sage, the alcohol itself is pretty unlike any other gin you’ve tried.
To bring the brand's story to life, we called upon French photographer, and fellow car and motorbike enthusiast, Bleu Mode, to take the ENGINE identity out into the wild.
Both locations, Station Prouvé, a former '70s service station by architect Jean Prouvé in Angoisse, France, and Bardenas Reales, a semi-desert region in Spain, put ENGINE in a whole new context. We caught up with Bleu Mode to find out a bit more about the project and where this concept of his came from.
Sete, a Mediterranean town in Southern France, is where Bleu Mode was born and raised, and what also inspired his alias with the blue color of the Mediterranean sea.
He moved to New York in 2008, which is where he got into photography, fueled by the energy and people of the city. "I get motivated by all my travels throughout the world, particularly in non-touristic areas, and through meeting people from different backgrounds and subcultures. I’m very nostalgic of the '90s era and this translates directly into my photography," he says, which is a clear link between his practice and the concept and rough time era that ENGINE is built upon.
Unbothered by rules, he finds photography a totally freeing process, and when describing his work he leans most towards, irony, culture, accumulation of products and logos — something visibly obvious in what he did with ENGINE. Believing that he and ENGINE had a match in terms of vision, Bleu Mode decided to follow the more surrealist route, which he thought would fit perfectly with ENGINE’s out of the box story and mood. "I wanted to have a first location that was very neutral and clean so that the beautiful colors of the ENGINE logo would stand out. Since my theme was surrealist and safari-inspired, the other location had to be some sort of desert environment, so I found Bardenas Reales nature reserve that fit exactly with that," he explains.
"I had total creative freedom with ENGINE which is why I think the project is a huge success. I think this is something to remember - create your own vision and keep challenging it by pushing your own boundaries."
Available in bars, restaurants and e-shops, enjoy your ENGINE cocktail with an aromatic sage leaf garnish. Find out more here.