Gin Festival made for a pretty spot on Saturday evening in my books!
It makes more than a bit of rain to put Brummies off their gin, and so, despite near torrential rain earlier in the day, it was good to see a room full of people for the evening’s gin festivities.
Birmingham’s Gin Festival was being held at The Bond, a lovely conference facility a stone’s throw away from the city centre, opening up onto the canal and gaining a bit of a reputation for hosting some excellent drinks festivals throughout the year.
Once the heavens had temporarily closed, I headed to The Bond, got my name checked off and was duly handed a Gin Festival goblet - an oversized wine-glass to hold the gins purchased on the evening and then to take home as a souvenir. To speed things up, gin is paid for in tokens which are purchased near the door and once we had ours, we headed off to hear from the sprinkling of stalls opposite the bar.
Now usually I’d find the presences of a mere five stalls at a drinks festival a little odd. But somehow this worked, mainly because it meant rather than people clamouring round them for ‘free’ gin, people stood at the stall seemed genuinely interested in hearing from the representatives. The first gin stall we visited was the Sheffield-based Sir Robin of Locksley gin. It was a great start as it was a lovely gin with delicate infusions that made it an almost sipping gin. Next up was Brockmans, a gin that I have a complete soft spot for after a friend bought it as a present for me years ago - it’s a lovely fruity gin with strong berry notes.
And then we headed to the bar. We’d been advised when we first arrived by a member of staff that there are four bars, two with British gins, one with foreign gins and the final with sloe and flavoured gins. It being the case that my go-to spirit is gin, I’ve drunk a lot of it over the years and I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were a lot of gins I’ve tried, and enjoyed, before - Brockman’s, Masons and Two Birds in particular. But, even as a seasoned gin drinker, there were some new gins to me, including one which a friend had brought me back years ago and I’d eyed suspiciously. Turned out to be Mahon Xoriguer Gin from Menorca in Spain and turned out I’d needn’t be so sceptical.
The room was pleasantly full and whilst there were always people at the bar, service was quick and friendly; gin and garnishes were added to the goblets and mixers were suggested, but you were left to add your own. Now, this might seem lazy to some, but to me it’s perfect because it gave me a chance to try the gin neat and get an idea of the flavour, rather than the tonic. And whilst the tonic was of good quality, thanks to Fevertree supplying it readily, I enjoyed being left in charge. Plus some gins, like the Zymurgorium Sweet Violet gin from Manchester, were so glorious I forgot the tonic entirely…and ordered a bottle from the on site off licence to take home too. A special shout out to my favourite gin of the evening; Bobby’s Schiedam Gin from the Netherlands which had a really unique peppery spice, mixing classic gin flavours with traditional Indonesian ingredients.
And if you didn’t fancy the atmosphere of the bar inside there was plenty going on outside, including live music, with artists playing upbeat covers of well known songs. Drinks continued, with a cocktail bar selling gin-related drinks, plus a tuck shop, which sold snacks and non-gin drinks, plus a street food stall selling tapas style food, which looked pretty perfect for nibbling on. Much as I love a good burger, trying to hold a gin and burger is an utter nightmare, trust me, I’ve tried many times. Throughout the evening calls were being made for masterclasses if you wanted to hear more from the brands, but I enjoyed the atmosphere milling around that I was happy enough people watching and drinking gin. A pretty spot on Saturday evening in my books.
Full to the Brum is an award-winning food and drinks blog based in Birmingham. Often irreverent, it’s written by Laura who thinks food and drinks can be a lot of fun but shouldn’t be taken too seriously - she also uses it as an excuse to go out for dinner often and take plenty of photos, but can’t remember the last time she ate a meal that was still hot.
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