I was lucky enough to attend the sold-out Cambridge Gin Festival on Saturday 16th April. Taking along an old school friend who was more than happy to accompany me to anything involving gin, we experienced our first of hopefully many Gin Festivals.
My love of gin is quite a recent one. After discovering it one balmy summers evening in a Spanish bar where I was served an amazing, rather large, gin and tonic full of spices and flavour. Being a fan of fizzy drinks an alcoholic drink with fizz is usually popular with me and a G&T is no exception. When I saw the words Gin Festival pop up on my Twitter feed my initial thoughts were; “what is this heaven and why haven’t I been to one before?”
Arriving at the festival, you are given your own festival glass, which you keep, a badge allowing entry in and out of the building and a handy gin guide. The guide has lists of all the gins available with information about them. It also has tips for those who may be new to gin or more of a novice like me with details of what to try to start with and recommendations based on what you like. The booklet has space to write down any notes you want to make or notes of what you have tried, believe me it’s easy to forget after a few.
A 4 token card costs up to £20 which you then use to claim your drinks. 1 token per G&T or 2 tokens for a cocktail. The 100+ Gins were separated into bars A and B which were UK brands, Bar C which housed the international brands and bar D, the sloe and fruit gins. At the bars you are served a 25ml shot of your choice of gin, on ice, in your glass with the recommended garnish. Garnishes make all the difference. You can then drink it neat, add your own Fever Tree tonic of choice or follow the recommended version in the guide.
During the night you could attend masterclasses by some of the gin brands. I attended the Ely Gin masterclass where we found out a little bit of background to the company, how and why it was founded and all about the infused flavours that they do. Their chocolate gin is worth a try for any chocolate lovers out there. I can’t comment on the other masterclasses as we used the time to talk to the other companies that were present, sampling and trying their recommended versions. All the staff that we spoke to were friendly, helpful and knowledgeable offering advice and recommendations.
Being fairly new to the world of Gin I read through the guide picking out gins I thought I would like. First up I tried Pinkster, If I’m honest it was the pink colouring of the Gin that sold it to me. You can clearly taste the raspberries and when topped off with the raspberry and mint garnish, with a splash of tonic you have a wonderfully refreshing drink.
After talking to and sampling the Sir Robin of Locksley Gin it was my second drink of choice, garnished with pink grapefruit and teamed with the Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic I found what might be my favourite of the night. What really surprised me with this one was the sweetness of the pink grapefruit and the smoothness, which meant it wasn’t too overpowering. I was even able to drink it neat with ice, something I wouldn’t normally do.
Throughout the night we tried many more Gins also tasting each other’s G&T choices. Ones to mention are Ely Pink Grapefruit, Masons Yorkshire, whose lavender infusion is pretty special, and the amazing Gin Festival Exclusive Yorkshire Ginfused Strawberry and Mint. Sipping on this took me back to a beach in Thailand drinking cocktails and watching the sunset. Speaking of cocktails, I was more than happy to try one. I opted for the Drunken Tulip, fruity with Prosecco it ticked all the boxes for me.
The Gin Festival had a relaxing, sophisticated vibe with music performances, mingling bar tables in the middle of the room and a cocktail bar upstairs. I loved the chilled out atmosphere, there was time to read the guide and choose with no pressure to rush. The selfie machine was lots of fun and we got our best photo of the night of the two of us with it. Despite their being alcohol freely available there was none of the beer festival atmosphere that you get by the end of the night.
Would I recommend attending a Gin Festival? Yes! I love gin already, but I enjoyed trying new, rare and different gins and discovering some new favourites. But if you are or take a non-gin drinker, you may find by the end you have a convert.
Eilidh is a parenting and lifestyle blogger. She shares her insights into real life parenting, muddling through life in a modern blended family on her blog www.Mummyandmonkeys.com. She enjoys summer days, flip-flops, all things yellow and coffee. Freely admitting she is a much happier person when the sun is shining and she has a G&T in her hand.
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