The Devil—and the History—Is In The Details With Strange Lands Gin
by Chloe Gordon on 04/04/2023 | 3 Minute Read
Bar carts are a place of libation presentation. It's where your best tumblers and coupes hold court, as well as your most beloved bottles and softest cocktail napkins, available for all guests to indulge in. And while it's essential to stock all the basics, sometimes, it's just as important to showcase the beloved underdogs, the spirits from distilleries unfamiliar but with packaging that packs an eyeball punch.
Brent Schoepf, a senior designer at Studio MPLS, developed the packaging system for Strange Lands Gin, a spirit from Three Rivers, a Quebec-based distillery that had to close up shop. While the distillery no longer exists, the packaging design lives on in its honor.
From the dark, elusive bottle color and the embossed side to the fantastic die-cut and gorgeous typography choices, the packaging system plays up its rich details, creating a complex, intricate identity that still feels balanced.
The typography system for each bottle is consistent, elusive of a rugged yet eccentric aesthetic. "Crayonetta DJR all day! Dolly Parton's album Home for Christmas made us do it. We're just imitators in this case," shares Brent Schoepf, senior designer at MPLS. "All other typography is either from Letter Head Fonts or Jeff Levine, always and forever our default font makers. And a special shoutout to Beasts of England for the embossed type on the side of the bottle, done in 'Corfe.'"
In addition to each piece of the packaging having been carefully crafted, each of the three gins within the range, Classic, Wild Berry, and Dry Bloom, are labeled in a distinctive color palette, giving each its own identity. Classic comes in cream, forest green, and sky blue; Wild Berry has a light pink, salmon, and raspberry palette; Dry Bloom has a cream, dusty green, and orange scheme.
"Far and away, the hardest part of designing the packaging was picking colors. Having the label split into light and dark colors, with one ink on top of that meant we had to work to get it just right. We liked the idea of the top half of the label looking fairly high contrast against the low contrast look on the bottom," notes Schoepf. "And then once we'd get it working nicely for each flavor, we had to make sure they each worked in the whole set of four flavors. One adjustment here often meant a few more there. Once we got it right on screen, we had to find the chips to match. Pantone didn't quite have the right colors so we had to dig through all of our obscure interior paint books to find just the right tones."
Spirits and liquor tend to follow the same formula—glass bottle, cork stopper, colorful label—but when each of these pieces gets rendered creatively, the result is a bottle immediately set apart. So while the brand's distillery no longer exists, its packaging system can showcase its innovative approach and willingness to try new things.