For each Gin Festival that we do, our cocktail creator Maya like to take a local gin and find or create a cocktail that really complements its unique taste, heritage and style. For Leeds it was a Masons G&Tea (made with their amazing, new Yorkshire Tea Gin) and in Newcastle we had a Geordie Snapper, with Hexham Premier Cru. Maya here talks us through her process for developing the Liverpool cocktail.
I love finding the right drink for a gin; cocktails shouldn’t be about masking the flavour of the booze with tonnes of fruit juice and sugar but should showcase the best of the spirits involved. I was thrilled when I realised we were going over to Liverpool for a Gin Festival and that I could use Whitley Neill as my base gin for the regional cocktail. “Brilliant”, I thought, “here’s a chance to unite Liverpool and Manchester through gin and an age old, mutual dislike for their Cheshire neighbours” and so, the Woolyback was born!
I kid, I kid.
Whitley Neill is a gloriously smooth and fruity gin with a gentle sharpness that I really wanted to bring forward whilst maintaining the flavour of its softer botanicals. (I should probably admit here that I have a particular weakness for cocktails that start off with a double measure of gin and only get boozier from there). With Cape Gooseberries as a key botanical for this South African inspired gin, gooseberry seemed an obvious route to pull that sharpness out without simply falling back on citrus flavours. Zymurgorium’s fabulous Extra Gooseberry Gin Liqueur jumped out at me as the perfect accompaniment - sharp but well-rounded, thick but without that syrupy texture many gin liqueurs have. It’s made in Manchester by the supremely talented Aaron Darke who is certainly one to watch out for (even if the Extra Gooseberry only comes in at 18% ABV). I like my martinis dry, so dry that they’re only gin waved in the general direction of Italy, but I appreciate that people want a little more flavour and maybe even a slightly longer drink so I added some freshly squeezed lime juice and a spoonful of honey (inspired by Manchester’s very own bee motif). This is about more than bulking the drink out: the lime gives it an extra kick while the honey unites all the flavours. This drink is Whitley Neill’s through and through and the best way I could think to finish it, both in terms of taste and provenance - ginger ale! And that, is how Gin Festival’s Woolyback was born: a Liverpool gin, a gin liqueur from Manchester and a seriously bad sense of humour.
For an authentic Woolyback, shake the following ingredients together over ice: 2 measures of Whitley Neill, ½ a measure of Zymurgorium Extra Gooseberry, the juice of half a lime and a spoonful of honey Strain into an ice-filled Gin Festival Copa (if you don’t have one, a Collins’ll do), top with ginger ale then garnish with raspberries and a lime wedge.
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