World Gin Day – a blatant excuse to drink lots and celebrate – falls this year on Saturday 13 June. Here are my top ways to celebrate in the capital.
Hosted by the chaps at Gin Foundry, Junipalooza is sure to be a fun-filled, gin-packed weekend, which sees 24 makers from across the world come together for tastings, masterclasses and Martinis. It’s a sure thing for every gin lover, and we couldn’t NOT include it in this list. See here for more info.
Update: This is a ticketed event which has now sold out.
Merchant House Masterclass
The super knowledgeable people at Merchant House will take you through gin’s rich history, with four different gins to wash it down. Classes run at 2pm, 4pm and 6pm. Tickets are a snip at just £20. Book yours here.
Shake, Rattle and Stir’s Gin Voyage
Want to make your very own gin, on a boat, floating around London, sipping on cocktails? Of course you do. There are very limited spaces left for this one, which costs £70pp, and guests receive six cocktails and two samples of gin. Find out more and buy tickets here.
Go your own way
Keep it simple, and stock up on gin (Majestic Wines are doing free tastings all day on Saturday, so it’s the perfect excuse to try before you buy, FYI). Invite a few friends round, pour a few G&Ts, and sit back, relax, and revel in the majesty of gin. Cheers!
I was lucky enough to be invited along on the day by Dan, one of the ten finalists in the UK, who got through to the top five with his take on a G&T; Portal to Exploration.
On the eve of the world final, I caught up with Dan at Heddon Street Kitchen to talk cocktails and the competition.
The small but carefully crafted cocktail list features 18 drinks – 10 of which are new, following the first menu change a few months after opening. Dan’s WMIBUK winning cocktail, Age of Discovery, also features. It’s a deliciously rich drink designed to enhance all the flavours of Bombay Sapphire. Featuring Darjeeling tea syrup, lemon, marjoram, Indian Dhania infused chestnut honey, and olive Oil, this drink is small, powerful and fragrant, which lasts on the tongue.
Age of Discovery features on Heddon Street Kitchen’s current cocktail menu, which recently changed for the first time since opening. N.B. They’ll give you a full one – I drank most of mine in eagerness before taking a picture.
So what makes him a strong prospect for World’s Most Imaginative Bartender? “I’ve always been good with flavours, but I really found a new creativity when I started working in bars”, says Dan. Clearly it runs in the family; his mum is a “great cook” and his sister a former chef.
A huge part of this challenge (and ultimately, what every cocktail should be) is to create something innovative, something that showcases the spirit and ultimately looks good and tastes great. It’s clear that Dan has the eye, nose and, erm, taste to create pretty special (and now award-winning!) cocktails.
Now get down to Heddon Street Kitchen and try one for yourself.
My lack of posts over the past few weeks can be attributed to having the time of my bloody life in America and Canada. Rather than writing about what I’m drinking, I’m just getting on with drinking it.
Having said that, following a night that, regrettably, I can barely remember at Employees Only in NYC (a bar I’d been wanting to visit for months), I thought it best to showcase a few particularly nice tipples I’ve had recently, while I can still recall them.
First up, Pink Gin Cider, discovered in a beer garden in San Francisco. Neither pink, nor made with gin, but delicious nonetheless. Chewy, flat, cloudy, sweet and dry – as all cider should be. Will certainly be seeking this out again.
Second, Canada’s favourite; the Ceaser. A sort of Bloody Mary but made with Clemato juice (a smoother, lighter version of tomato juice which I’m pretty sure has something to do with clams. No, really). Traditionally made with vodka, but would work beautifully with a London Dry Gin.
Third, this little beauty. The Sacred Narrative, which can be found at Chill Winston, in Vancouver’s Gaslamp district, is a heady blend of gin, agave, rose water, pomegranate, cinnamon, cardamom and bitters. It’s sweet, dry, strong and complex and is my favourite cocktail of the trip to date.
Gin is booming in the capital and we’ve come a long way since Hogarth’s Gin Lane. Gin tours are the new pub crawl, independent distilleries are popping up all over the city, and it’s now possible for gin lovers to perfect their own blend.
Here’s my pick of the best places to make your own gin in London:
City of London Distillery – this super cool gin joint, just off Fleet Street, is already famed for its own brand gin and bar (resplendent with copper still on display), but it also features a Gin Lab. For £125, the Distillery Team will talk you through botanicals and help you create your very own special gin. Visitors take home a 70cl bottle and the experience includes a distillery tour and G&T.
Bump Caves – Part of the Draft House chain, this dive bar boasts a rotary evaporator which creates a vacuum, meaning the gin-making process can be done at a lower temperature, opening up a wider range of flavours for your tipple. Master Distiller Max Chater will guide you through the process and help you create a 70cl bottle of your very own gin to take away. The £95 ticket price also includes three cocktails, a 70cl bottle of Bump Cave’s own ‘Victory Gin’, and a meat and cheese board. Events run regularly.
Ginstitute at The Portobello Star – ‘Ginterns’ will learn about the history of London Dry Gin before creating their own. The Ginstitute will keep your recipe on file, so you can re-order at any time. Tickets cost £100 and include a cocktail reception, the history bit, a 70cl bottle of Portobello Road No. 171 gin, your own 70cl bottle of gin, and a Martini for good measure.
I was absolutely thrilled to receive my copy of Gin Foundry‘s Gin Annual in the post last month. Packed with information on various brands, cocktail recipes and a list of predictions for the Next Big Thing, the 42 page hardback book has taken some time to digest.
More than just a collection of articles and reviews from their website, the chaps at Gin Foundry have clearly put a lot of love into this first ever Gin Annual; the passion for the spirit is clear in every page of this beautifully designed book. 2014 was a huge year for the gin revival, and according to this, 2015 is set to be bigger.
I was pleased that the predictions for 2015 were more than just the brands with the biggest marketing budgets. I’ll be testing all of the ’10 gins to watch in 2015′ over the coming weeks. Watch this space!
‘Where can I get one?!’ I hear you cry! Well, you can’t, they’re out of stock. Buy me a G&T, and I might let you borrow mine. Sign up now at ginfoundry.com and make sure you get the 2015/16 edition at the end of the year.