Do you know the one about the man who walks into a library and shouts “I’LL HAVE A GIN AND TONIC, PLEASE!”? The librarian replies severely: “This is a library! Keep your voice down!”. The man composes himself and whispers: “I’ll have a gin and tonic, please”. Well, now imagine a place called The Gin Library. Actually, don’t. It really exists. It “archives” almost 1400 bottles, all of them of a different gin. It’s no joke – but it’s lots of fun. You can find it in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, in the Solar Branco Eco Hotel, just a few kilometers from Ponta Delgada, the capital of the Azores on the island of São Miguel.

Ali, British, is the man that runs the Gin Library. He discovered the Azores in 2006, during his honeymoon, and settled in 2019. Before that he had a diverse path that included working for Formula One and the World Wildlife Fund. And this is where his passion for gin comes in: Ali visited more than 100 countries and brought back a distinct bottle from everywhere. When he set up the library, he had 330. Now it’s close to becoming the largest collection in the world (there are around 12,000 types of gin on the planet). And, of course, Ali produces his personal gin, the very smooth Ghost of the Ocean. If you bring him a bottle of gin that is not yet in his collection, he will give you one of his own in return.


The Gin Library is the place to discover everything about this drink with more than 400 years of history. Ali offers a couple of unique experiences: “The first one for our guests is to learn how to make the perfect gin and tonic. This is a five step process, and I teach our guests on how to do that. On the other hand, we have our gin masterclass, which is where people learn the history of gin and its different types, the generations, the botanicals, the way it’s made”.

If you think it’s just about mixing a couple of things over some ice cubes, think again: “Making the perfect gin and tonic really elevates your gin experience. We actually show people the right glass, the right tonic, the right ice, and, of course, the right gin to use. People adore it. You taste a London dry versus a craft gin versus a modern gin, and people really understand the differences and the qualities. We have plenty of people who come and say ‘I don’t like gin’, but we do open their world“.

Trust us: something apparently so simple has a lot going for it, and the result is quite exceptional – even more so when sipped amidst the lush nature of the Azores and taking in the breeze of the Altantic.


All this takes place in a setting in search of the greatest balance with the environment. In 2020, Ali created the Ocean Azores Foundation. It aims to invest its resources in selected community projects that will help drive lasting social and environmental change, focusing on the protection of the waters that surround the Azores islands, fighting for the conservation of the whales that live and travel through these waters.

Now that, yes, is what one calls true luxury. Cheers to that! – with the perfect gin and tonic, of course.