The Perfect Serve

On Saturday my partner and I went along to Coventry Cathedral for the Gin Festival. I am a massive gin fan, him not so much, so to be faced with more than 100 gins was going to be a challenge.

Gin Festival 20 May 2017

On arrival we were handed our Spanish style balloon tasting glasses, a Gin Explorers Guide and a handy across the body bag. Then we were directed to the tills to purchase tokens – this is the important bit –  the bars do not accept cash and just like a coffee shop loyalty card each time you purchase a drink and mixer your card is stamped. A fiver gets you a shot of gin, mixer and garnish.

Then free to wander to the four bar stations A – D each containing different optics it was decision time. Classic London Dry? A sweeter Plymouth blend? A malty genever or fruit infusions?

Based on a very scientific method of attractive bottle shape, funky names and ingredients we would not associate with gin we chose –

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Nelson’s Gin

Created by a chef, vanilla and cinnamon are the standout flavours in this gin distilled in Staffordshire.

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Poetic License Old Tom

Aged in oak casks with a rose gold colour this is a sweet and peppery gin from Sunderland.

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Da Mhile Seaweed Gin

Infused for three weeks, the lemon, thyme and fennel make a striking combination in this Welsh gin.

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G’Vine Floraison

Special ingredients here are flowers that only bloom for a week to give this graceful French gin its honeyed taste.

As with beer and wine pairing with food, there are also recommendations on which mixer to accompany your gin.

According to the sponsor Fever Tree, juniper and robust gins go with an aromatic tonic; citrus and herbaceous gins benefit from rosemary, lemon and thyme; sloe and damson varieties need a lemon based tonic while fresh and floral gins match well with elderflower tonic.

The Gintleman gin cocktails

A team of mixologists were also on hand creating a menu of gin-based cocktails (at £10 or two tokens each).

Tinker gin at Gin Festival Coventry Cathedral

As well  as sampling gins, you can also learn more about the different brands, so we sat in on the Tinker Gin talk – a Spanish style gin which is distilled in Yorkshire.

Jym and Marie Harris Gin Festival

If not the first, then one of the earliest UK touring events Gin Festival  was set up in 2013 by husband and wife team Jym and Marie Harris. Across the country you can find new gins, learn more about the spirit and buy directly from distilleries.

My top five tips for getting the best out of a Gin Festival event are:

  1. Buy more tokens than you think you are going to need, as you can purchase a ‘takeaway tipple’ 25ml shot in a mini jar to take home with you.
  2. Ask the bartenders to go easy on the ice, so as not to dilute the delicate spirit too much.
  3. Make a note of your favourites in the Gin Explorers Book (unless you have a photographic memory.)
  4. Don’t expect a great selection of food, only olives and tapas were on offer in Coventry, this event is all about the booze.
  5. Fill in the mail order form and leave it with the onsite off-license so that you don’t have to carry your purchases home.

The next Gin Festival in the Midlands will be held in Stoke on Trent  at the Victoria Hall, from Friday 23 – Saturday 24 June.

Don’t forget to check my blog next week, for my round-up of gin tastings to celebrate World Gin Day on 9 June!

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May’s marvellous food & drink events

May 2017 events

Welcome to my round-up of May’s marvellous food and drink events.

This month you can brush up on your Thai  cookery skills in a class with Suree Coates or learn more about your favourite tipple as Gabe Cook, aka The Ciderologist, hosts Birmingham Wine School’s first ever cider evening. Over in Coventry, the city’s cathedral is the backdrop to a weekend Gin Festival.

Food festival season kicks off in earnest, with four great events being held in the West Midlands. The inaugural  Independent Birmingham Festival, Ludlow Spring Festival (particularly for real ale fans) Alcester and Warwick Food Festivals will have all the locations buzzing with local producers, cafes and restaurants taking part.

Sate your  cultural appetite by joining  Annabel de Vetten of Conjurer’s Kitchen for an evening of deathly facts and food at the Midlands Arts Centre, or taste English wines while watching Four Weddings and A Funeral at The Electric cinema.

A Spanish festival or burger pop-up in Birmingham at Amantia and The Plough will get you into the party spirit, and special events include a one-off Pudding Club with five desserts from Sweet As in Leamington Spa to indulge in, plus the launch of a new monthly Sip + Supper Club in Stratford upon Avon.

Wherever you go and whatever you consume I hope that you have a marvellous May!

 

What’s on in July

Hop over to the events page and see what July has in store for you, with urban food festivals, al fresco dining and cocktails galore!

July events

September food and drink events

So summer is officially over and what have we got to look forward to in September?

September events

A trio of food festivals, wine tastings, a new gin festival, a South African street food pop-up and the start of the British lobster season are my top tips for food and drink events this month.

Birmingham Independent Food Festival is back at a new venue, Millennium Point, to showcase more than 40 local producers. Over in Warwickshire, The Great British Food Festival is a new event for the county and Shipston on Stour’s food festival returns for a second year.

Hotel du Vin’s long standing sommelier Francois takes guests on a tour of his favourite wines, Northamptonshire vineyard New Lodge unveils three new wines at their open day, while in Warwick The High Pavement savours wines from Bordeaux. Juniper fans can get their fix at the new Gin Festival in Birmingham.

The details for all of these food and drink events are on the Events page.