My top tips for June events

JUNE 2018

There is a jamboree  of gin, wine and cocktail tastings, very special dinners and food festivals packed with local producers to look forward to in June.

For Juniper fans, I have picked out a day of tastings at Bedworth Civic Hall, the Lichfield Gin, Cheese and Ale Festival plus a World Gin Day Gala Dinner with Edinburgh Gin in the Birmingham  Museum and Art Gallery, as my top tips for you.

Three unusual  and special meals have caught my eye this month. At Lemore Manor in Herefordshire you can lunch with 2016 Masterchef finalists Billy Wright and Jack Layer. As part of a series of dining experiences, the National Trust property Upton Park  is hosting a tasting menu with a French Riviera theme. Ryton Organic Gardens near Coventry is the setting for a six course menu of delicious seafood with wine pairings at The Stock Pot Café’s ‘Under The Sea’ dinner.

Worcester, Shrewsbuty and Shobdon will all be getting ready for their annual food festivals and turning their towns into a smorgasbord of the finest local produce.

You can learn about the history of American cocktails with the Birmingham Whisky Club and Sam Boulton from The Vanguard Bar; learn how to brew your own ale with the Birmingham Brewing Company or just relax and sample over 50 wines at Vin Neuf’s  Summer Wine Tasting at Hiller’s Garden Bistro.

Check the Events page for details and wherever your epicurean journey takes you to in June, I hope that you have a great time!


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 –

Nelson's Gin.jpg

Nelson’s Gin

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

Poetic License Old Tom Gin with Fever Tree ginger ale tonic.jpg

Poetic License Old Tom

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

Da Mhile seaweed gin.jpg

Da Mhile Seaweed Gin

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

G'Vine Gin.jpg

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!

Chin!Chin!Its time for gin!

Just in time for World Gin Day I’d like to raise a glass of ‘mother’s ruin’ to Emma Bishop and Nicola Yapp aka The Little Gin Company.

The Little Gin Company montage

Emma and Nicola have been trialling gins together for many years, but it wasn’t until this year that they decided to create their own mobile bar for their favourite tipple.

As well as serving a thoughtfully chosen range of gins, mixers and garnishes, their business The Little Gin Company operates from a lovingly converted horse trailer.

The Little Gin Company at Fargo Village

The trailer of choice was a Rice horse trailer due to its retro style, as that fitted with the overall vision for the brand. The girls set themselves a total budget of £4,000 to get the business from concept to launch, which included converting the trailer, becoming personal alcohol licence holders, completing a trailer driving test and stock purchases.

For their first outing, Emma and Nicola debuted The Little Gin Company in their home town of Stratford upon Avon.  By partnering with Scoff, they joined the street food traders in a Friday night party alongside the river. The evening was a great success and they haven’t looked back.

Emma and Nicola say “We want to bring you a unique twist on the classic G&T experience”.

Here are some of their favourite tipples:

Cotswold dry gin with grapefruit juice

Cotswold Dry Gin with Pink Grapefruit Juice, Tonic & Slice of Lemon

The London Dry style Gin from Cotswolds Distillery is delectable blend of their pure wheat spirit, along with nine carefully-considered botanicals. The result is a classic well-balanced juniper-led gin with crisp citrus and spice. Botanicals include Cotswolds lavender, grapefruit, cardamom, bay leaf, lime and black pepper.

Monkey 47 Gin, Tonic & Chunky Orange Garnish

An unusual gin from the Black Forest in Germany, Monkey 47 contains a unique ingredient. No, not that! Cranberries! The 47 comes from the number of botanicals that go into this unique gin, and the fact it’s bottled at a healthy 47%.

Sir Robin of Locksley Gin, Elderflower Cordial, Tonic & Slice of Lime

This small batch, hand raised gin, is a smooth and truly delicious affair. A multi-purpose sipping gin that falls somewhere between a London Dry style and an Old Tom. For a distinctively unique gin, Sir Robin of Locksley is a blend of traditional botanicals, infused with the more delicate notes of elderflower, dandelion and pink grapefruit.

Sipsmith’s Sloe Gin, Bitter Lemon Tonic & Slice of Lemon

First, Sipsmith distil the award-winning London Dry Gin in their copper still. Then it is left to rest on wild sloe berries, hand-picked in the autumn. The result is a truly handmade sloe gin that is subtle, complex and bursting with flavours such as cassis and soft cherry hints.

The Little Gin Company logo

You can find The Little Gin Company next week at Sarehole Mill’s street food and folk festival on 21 June. They are also available for private hire, weddings, corporate events  -basically any excuse for a party!  @thelittleginco