Clashing Time

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Wednesday, 28 February 2018

London Gin Festival

Last month I had an email pop in to my inbox that could possibly be seen as every gin lovers dream. 'I'm currently on the hunt for bloggers to attend the London Gin Festival'...erm say no more, yes please! After giving up vodka and a couple of other spirits a few years ago, gin became my go-to drink for all occasions. Looking for an after work drink... how about a gin, tonic and grapefruit? A relaxing evening drink...i'm sure gin, elderflower tonic and cucumber would work! There's so many different ways you can add an exciting twist to a classic G&T and I knew that the London Gin Festival would be the place to find some new ideas. Based in the amazing Tobacco Docks, a Grade 1 listed warehouse in the East End of London, this couldn't have been a more perfect venue for the festival. It's uniquely authentic design helped to add another element to the experience as everywhere you looked there was a new interesting area filled with music, food and gin. You could tell that other people agreed as even though the queue to get in was quite long, everyone was commenting on how fascinating the venue was and how excited they were to get in and have a drink. (Pro tip: get there as early as you can to avoid waiting in line). 

When we got through to the event we were greeted by festival helpers who gave us an little pack for the evening with a huge amount of information in it about the gins on offer, the gin companies there, the food and the shop. We moved out of the way of the eager ginthusiasts to examine the guide and I have to say that I was blown away. I've never claimed to be a proper gin aficionado, instead I'm much more of an appreciator, but I was still amazed by the variety of gins that were being presented to us. Herbal gin, citrusy gin, sweet gin, smokey gin, spicy gin, dry gin...the list goes on, they had it all and I couldn't wait to find out more! We picked up our Gin Festival glass to use for the evening and decided to head straight to the bar as the cocktails were calling our names. Everyone was walking round with glasses with beautifully coloured drinks swirling around inside and as soon as I spotted someone with an pink coloured gin I decided that it would be the perfect cocktail to get me started. The bartender put together a combination of fruity Pinkster Gin, a whole heap of ice and some schweppes tonic - it was heaven! After a long week at work the taste of cold raspberry gin on my lips was such a satisfying feeling. Everyone around us seemed to be laughing as they clinked their glasses and sung along to the music and it was clear to me that they were all having a really good time. 
 After we had done a recce of the building and sussed out all the places we wanted to visit, we headed to the gin tasting room. We went from stand to stand learning about the history of each company, the types of tonic or mixers you should drink with each flavour, and what garnish would suit the drink. We tested samples of straight gin from PJ Gin, Piucinque, KokoroWhitley Neill Rhubarb and ginger, and Tinker and we couldn't get enough. We learnt which gins worked with amazing schweppes tonics (like grapefruit, lemon, cucumber etc), which gins you should eat a sansho berry with (Kokoro team - you're killers), or which flavours are accentuated by a shaving of a citrus fruit skin. We felt like we were walking round the sample section not only having a huge amount of fun, but also gaining a heap of information and building our gin knowledge. By the time we left the room we knew that our next step needed to be a trip to the bar to select our new found favourite drinks. Mine had to be a Tinker gin with grapefruit tonic - a fresh drink with a natural sweetness, but balanced by the sharp elderberry. I think it might have to be my go-to drink going forward as it has such a soft flavour, but the ice in the big glass and a little bit of mint help to release the fruitiness (I've already looked at where I can get it in London bars and pubs!) 
One of the best things about the event definitely had to be the atmosphere. Everyone seemed like they were genuinely having a really good time! There were couples, groups of friends, and it even looked like there were a few family outings happening. Despite it being a Friday night there was lots of room to mingle and look around without it feeling too spacious, and the queues for drinks were just the right length when you're eagerly waiting to try a new gin delight. A few gins in and we had visited pretty much all of the stands that we wanted to go to and decided that the stage was the next place for us. Northern Epidemic, a two man band from Yorkshire, was playing and they were literally amazing. They managed to get the whole crowd singing and dancing along to a collection of classic tunes from through the ages and they helped to finish off our evening at Tobacco Docks with a bang. 
The tickets start at 10 pounds (depending on the date/time you go) and there are numerous events round the UK so make sure you check out their website to see if there is one coming to your city soon! The next London Gin Festival is 24th-26th August and I will definitely be rallying the troops to go along for a summer drinking experience. I hope to see you there! CTx
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