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A visiting dignitary brought the gift of London dry gin to the Forbidden City, and in return the Empress gave him a rare bird, held within a beautiful crafted cage.​


The exchange of gifts is a traditional part of Chinese culture, to show solidarity when attending a formal meeting, where tea is served. The Forbidden City was named as such because outsiders were refused entry, until Empress Cixi began to relax these rules.​


The concept embraces tradition: marrying established codes understood by the Chinese Baijiu drinker, with London craft to establish a new category of spirits in China.​

The liquid combines classic London dry gin botanicals with a hint of infused premium Chinese tea and locally grown citrus fruits. The range includes a juniper variant, a mandarin liquid and a gin with a hint of yuzu. The premium spirit is ideal for making a Gin Martini with depth and complexity, or a refreshing G&T.​


The project included brand strategy, naming, flavour innovation/range architecture, bespoke 3D bottle design, brand identity, with a illustration and typography being done in-house at Intertype Studio.​


The bottle is available to buy in T House Time, a chain of premium tea houses, as well as being sold online. The gin will eventually be available worldwide.​

The bottle structure is inspired by & functions like a bird cage, whilst the glass stopper is influenced by the traditional head-wear worn by Empress Cixi. The illustration style & technique is inspired by a Quing Dynasty vase and creates the illusion of the bird held within the cage. The bottle hangs within the box to complete the concept.​


The paper label reflects the layout of the forbidden city in plan-view, with the empress positioned to the rear centre of the courtyard, where she would typically host visitors.​

Thanks to our partners at Oracle Creative Design, Shenzhen, who commissioned the project and handled the production.​

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