I have this really vivid memory of Steven’s 18th birthday. We had a meal at the pub with his family and he was desperate to get ID’ed, just because he could, but no one felt the need. After his parents had gone home, we went to another pub, where he pleaded with the girl behind the bar to ID him for buying gin.
We drank that gin like it was a shot and it burned. I remember thinking that it was vile and vowing never to drink it again. I certainly wouldn’t have thought that eight years later it would be my tipple of choice. I also probably wouldn’t have guessed that we would have been married for three years by now but that’s completely unrelated.
Since I’ve seen the light (that part I don’t remember so vividly), I’ve been a fan of a G&T but it’s only in the last year or so that I’ve properly come to appreciate gin. As a spirit it’s varied, it’s complex and it is brimming with opportunities for creativity. As a drink it’s classy and refined, yet I can still get a decent cheap one from Wetherspoons.
My love was properly kindled in Bath at the Canary Gin Bar. It’s a tiny little place, down one of Bath’s more beautiful cobbled streets (and let’s face it, they’re all pretty beautiful) kitted out in plush red velvet, with moody lighting and the mandatory hipster bar tenders. You tell them your general preference (fruity, herbal, etc) give a few a sniff and enjoy the resulting G&T. It may be a pricey choice but it’s an elegant one for sure.
Unfortunately we have nothing of that ilk in Milton Keynes (where is the gin love?) and I’ve missed the option of the Gin Bar for a Saturday night bevvy. So earlier this year I went to the Gin Festival in London with a friend.
It was fantastic.
Imagine an industrial-chic venue (Tobacco Dock, to be specific), rammed with gin vendors, punctuated by awesome bands and all topped off with pie. Incredible, right?
My eyes were opened to so much about gin. Which tonic to pair with your gin, what garnishes you should use, the size of the glass and the proportion of ice. It really is an art. I’d always known that you’re meant to have cucumber with Hendricks (everyone grows up knowing that, right?) but I had no idea how far the garnish culture went.
I tried umpteen gins for free, marked them in my gin guide (I know, right? Heaven!) and was let loose on the hall of gin, with my free glass in hand (I told you it was good). Aside from having a wonderful evening with my bestie, I now feel so enlightened and informed when I’m buying and drinking gin. Pretentious that may be, but I absolutely love it.
So let’s knock the awful stereotypes, shall we? Gin won’t necessarily make you cry, it isn’t mother’s ruin anymore and it can be damn delightful. Shall I pour?