Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Gin and tonic and ice-cream pop-up – World Gin Day 2017

G+T and botanical ice cream

World Gin Day is fast approaching, again! It seems like only a few G+Ts ago that it was WGD2016, and well, there have been many, many gins since last year’s frivolities.  

As ever, there will be plenty going on all around the UK, and further afield, but one thing that has caught our eye is a gin and tonic ice cream parlour pop-up.

Just when you think gin can’t get any better, they go and add ice cream into the mix.

Gin Mare and ice cream geniuses Ruby Violet are bringing the best sounding combo to the Capital for two days only. 

You’ll be able to find them in the courtyard at The Hoxton Hotel, Shoreditch, between 9-11 June.

The ice cream and sorbets will be infused with gin botanicals, and topped with crystallised rosemary, dried olive, botanical brittle, savoury wafer, and gin-soaked orange peel. Yum. And of course, it’ll be served alongside Gin Mare G+Ts, garnished with the likes of mango and black pepper.

Each gin and tonic, with ‘complimentary and complementary’ ice cream, will cost you £5, which in London sounds like an absolute bargain.

We cannot wait.

G&T Ice Cream Parlour, 2-8pm, 9-11 June, courtyard at The Hoxton,Shoreditch

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Cooking with Booze: Rum, Apple & Ginger Cake

The Bank Holiday has had me baking. It’s no secret that I love cake – making it, eating it.. eating it. Hell, I'll even settle for just looking at cake; drooling over pictures in some kind of perverted fashion.. But enough about that, we won't mention it again.

Anyway, the generous extra day off of work has meant that I can leisurely make a floury mess in the kitchen, pour myself a drink while it’s in the oven, and then really take my time to enjoy every last crumb. I might just return for another slice as soon as my plate is empty - it's only a sliver, no one will notice - we can keep that between us, yes?

Inspired by those lovely Hawkes Alcoholic Ginger Beer cocktails that I made the other week, I’ve plumped for a Rum, Apple and Ginger cake with lime icing. A spiced cake may not sound very seasonal, but it's got that gingery warmth that gives you a big hug during those springtime showers, and the zingy lime assures us that summer is on its way.

Let's not beat around the bush, we need to talk rum. As with many of our 'Cooking with Booze' features (check them out here), we advise certain varieties/brands, but ultimately we want you to try the recipe out yourself, so we approve of - and indeed encourage - you using your own preferences or whatever you might have handy. Keep us informed of your off piste adaptations, we love hearing about them!

For this cake recipe I'd suggest using a dark rum; you want something that packs a punch, though I'd maybe stay away from 'spiced' varieties (i.e. Morgan's Spiced or Sailor Jerry's) as it would over complicate the flavours. We've reviewed a number of rum's in the past, El Dorado, Chairman's Reserve, Doorly's, to name a few, but I've opted for Appleton Estate's Jamaica Rum; it's a perfect partner to ginger, and it worked a sweet-treat in our Rum Butter Pancake Day Recipe, so it was sure fire hit in my eyes.

Try it out for yourself; just don’t blame me if you eat more than you probably should.

Rum, Apple & Ginger Cake with Lime Icing (serves 8)

For the cake:
  • 35g dried apple
  • 5 tbsp dark rum
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 125g self raising flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tbsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • a grating of nutmeg
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 50g black treacle
  • 75g golden syrup
  • 75g muscovado sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 pieces of stem ginger (in syrup), finely chopped
For the icing:
  • 150g full fat cream cheese
  • 75g icing sugar
  • zest of 1 lime
  1. Place the apples, rum, zest and juice of the lemon in a bowl. Cover and leave overnight to soak.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan). Grease and line a 15cm round cake tin.
  3. Mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices in a bowl.
  4. Melt the butter in a pan. Remove from the heat and add the treacle, golden syrup, sugar and milk, and thoroughly mix. Stir the treacle mixture into the flour mix along with the egg and stem ginger.
  5. Remove the apples from the rum and chop roughly. Fold the apples and any remaining boozy liquid into the cake mixture.
  6. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour. The cake is ready when it has come away from the sides of the tin and when you slide a skewer into it, it comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven, leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. To make the icing, whip the cream cheese until smooth. Sieve over the icing sugar, add the lime zest and beat until combined. Top the cake with the icing, decorate if you wish, and serve.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Friday Cocktail: 4 of the Best Italian Cocktails

Many members of the Vinspire team have recently spent time eating and drinking our way around Italy (all in the name of research, of course). So next in our series of Italian love-in posts is this, the best cocktails the Italians have to offer. You're welcome.

The Italians do drinks proper. From Super Tuscans (and many, many other wines for that matter) to strong, dark coffee, Italians are big on flavour, and perfectionists when it comes to the execution; you'll never find an Italian restaurant with improper sized espresso cups, or one serving Prosecco from a wine glass, and the cocktails are no exception.
Photo: CCFoodTravel

First up is one of the most famous cocktails in the world, the Bellini. A classic mix of peach puree topped with sparkling wine (Prosecco, obvz).

Invented in Harry's Bar in Venice in the 1930/40s, this classic has adorned drinks menus the world over ever since. Alongside its famous cousin, however, you'll usually find the Rossini on most Italian cocktail menus - simply swap the peach juice you'd find in a Bellini for fresh strawberry purée, and top with Prosecco. Molto bene.

From one Prosecco based cocktail to another (why change the habit of a lifetime?) - the lesser known Sgroppino.

A fusion of the country's national sparkling wine, vodka and that most delicious of palate cleansers, lemon sorbet. Often served at the end of a meal, as opposed to something a cocktail bar would rustle up. Rarely listed on menus, but order one anyway and feel smug with your local knowledge.

Or make your own:

Sgroppino recipe (serves one)

1 scoop lemon sorbet
25ml vodka
75ml prosecco

1. Pop the sorbet in a cocktail shaker (or jar or bowl if you don't have one) and splash over a bit of the Prosecco, then gently mix until the two are combined.
2. Towards the end of your mixing, add the vodka and give it a quick stir.
3. Pour in the rest of the prosecco and gently stir to combine.
4. Pour into a martini glass or coupe and enjoy.

Possibly the second most famous cocktail export (after the much-loved and, in our case, much-imbibed, Bellini), is the Negroni.

Photo: Lachlan Hardy (CCL)
Made with gin, red vermouth and Campari, a good Negroni is the perfect balance of bitter, dry and sweetness. Garnished with orange peel and served on the rocks, there's little better than this short, strong drink served as an aperitif. Here's the classic recipe:

Classic Negroni Recipe

1 shot gin
1 shot campari
1 shot red vermouth
Orange peel, to garnish

1. Pour all the ingredients over a tumbler or old-fashioned glass filled with ice, and stir.
2. Garnish with orange peel.

But the Italians don't just do pre-dinner drinks; aperitivo applies late morning, late afternoon and pre-dinner. Who doesn't love a country that takes cocktail hour so seriously?! The Italian's drink of choice for aperitivo is the Spritz.

Traditionally made with Campari, Prosecco and soda, this long drink is now offered with Aperol as a Campari substitute. Our advice? Stick to the classic if you like the bitterness, or go with Aperol for something a little sweeter.

Have you tried any other Italian cocktails not in our list which really out to be? Let us know if the comments.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Top 10 Easy Tequila Cocktails

It's FRIDAY! The perfect time to share some delicious, easy tequila cocktail recipes with you.

When I was much younger, Friday meant promises of a weekend of dancing the night away and knocking back a few tequila slammers, but once I sort of grew out of my crazy party days, I also fell out of love with tequila a bit. It just didn't seem very grown up.

Now it's rarely at the top of my cocktail ingredient list, despite being responsible for some of the world's most popular cocktails - like the margarita - and I know I'm not alone in this. We've written before about where to find good tequila, and now I thought it was high time I did a run-down of some of the tastiest ways to get this feisty spirit back into your lives.

So if you do just one thing this weekend, give one of these ten easy tequila cocktails a try: they're elegant, full of flavour and full of bite and zing. I'm falling back in love with tequila again.

1. The Paloma

A bit of a classic, this is very deserving of a place on your go-to cocktails list. You only need simple, accessible ingredients: tequila, lime, grapefruit juice, simple syrup and soda.

Try this super recipe from Annie's Eats.

2. South X Southwest

An amazing creation from Josh Pearson at Sepia bar, I stumbled across this on the Cosmopolitan website recently and fell in love. It's full of some of my favourite flavours: tequila, rosemary, moscato d'asti, elderflower liqueur and lemon juice. YUM.

3. Cherry margarita

I came up with this back in Vinspire's early days, and it remains a firm favourite both with me and you guys! Fresh cherries, lime, tequila, triple sec, sugar syrup - and salt for the rim. Flavour explosions.

4. Midori Mambo

Ah, the perfect way to use up the Midori I've had knocking about for a few months (or a great excuse to try a bottle if you haven't)! This melon liqueur blends with coconut cream, lime juice and tequila for a big tropical fiesta in your mouth.

5. Iced Teaquila

Aside from having an amazing pun name, this cocktail is also good because it combines refreshing, earthy iced tea with naughty tequila and lemon. The recipe for this one is over at Food and Wine.

6. Salty Chihuahua

Like the vodka-based salty dog, this recipe has grapefruit, salt and orange liqueur - with a big old slug of tequila. I think I prefer it the Mexican way. Recipe from Eating Well.

7. Plum Dinger

I created this on a cold, miserable Autumn day in 2013, and I can't decide if the drink or the name cheered me up more (I know, I'm so modest. But I love a pun!)

It's plum juice, rosemary, amaretto, tequila and orange juice - and it's one of those cocktails that makes me long for the end of summer (even though it hasn't even started yet.)

8. Tequila Blackberry Lemonade

Another autumnal treat, there's something effortlessly delicious about this cocktail recipe from Real Housemoms. It's only three ingredients (the clue's in the name) and you can whip it up in about 2 minutes = perfect cocktail recipe for the end of a long week!

9. Strawberry Jalapeno Margarita

Of all the margarita variations, this has to be one of the most exciting. It's from The Chic Site and I've seen it doing the rounds on Pinterest more times than I care to remember. Tequila, orange liqueur, simple syrup (or agave nectar if you feel fancy), lime, strawberries, jalapenos and salt. A lengthy but easily findable list of ingredients for a showy-offy cocktail.

10. Margarita sangria

Wow. Just wow. This is seriously boozy but oh so drinkable - just be careful to pace yourself. White wine, tequila, triple sec, oranges and orange juice, limes and lime juice, and some coriander - so it's equal parts naughty and nice!

 It's completely delicious - which is appropriate as it's from the Completely Delicious blog.

Huge thanks to all these brilliant blogs and magazines for bringing the 'happy' back to my tequila cocktails!

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Songs About Drinking: a Boozy Playlist

Cocktails at the Alchemist

Cheers to the freakin’ weekend. Whether you’re gonna have yourself a beer, hitting the gin ‘n’ juice, getting on the shots (shots, shots, shots, shots), or sipping tequila (it makes me happy), let this playlist be the soundtrack to your boozy weekend.

Who knew there were so many songs about the noble art of drinking? From the downright miserable (a playlist for a later date perhaps, I don’t want to bring down the party), through jazz and blues, classic rock, alternative, dance, and all the way to hip hop, this is a mere snapshot into the world of alcohol-inspired songs.

Now I’m not for one second going to say that all these songs are good – some are seriously terrible – but there should be at least one song in there for everyone, whether your drink of choice is a Mint Julep, whiskey in the jar, or a lager, lager, lager, lager.

So while you drink a whisky drink, and drink a vodka drink, and drink a lager drink, and drink a cider drink, sing these songs that remind you of the good times.

A boozy playlist

40 Oz. to Freedom - Sublime
Alabama Song (Whisky Bar) - The Doors
Beer - Reel Big Fish
Born Slippy - Underworld
Brass Monkey - Beastie Boys
Buy U a Drink - Trade Union ft. T-Pain
Cheers (Drink to That) - Rihanna
Cigarettes and Alcohol - Rod Stewart
Closing Time - Semisonic
Drinking in LA - Bran Van 3000
Drunk Girls - LCD Soundsystem
Finnegan’s Wake - Dropkick Murphys
Gin and Juice - Snoop Dogg
Gin House Blues - Nina Simone
Happy Hour - The Housemartins
Have a Drink on Me - AC/DC
Lived in Bars - Cat Power
One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer - John Lee Hooker
One Mint Julep - Ray Charles
Pass the Courvoisier part II - Busta Rhymes, Diddy, Pharrell Williams
Shots - LMFAO, Lil Jon
Swimming Pools (Drank) - Kendrick Lamar
Tequila - The Champs
Tequila - Terrorvision
Tipsy - J-Kwon
Too Drunk to Fuck - Nouvelle Vague
Tubthumping - Chumbawamba
Where Everybody Knows Your Name (Cheers theme!) - Gary Portnoy
Whiskey in the Jar - Thin Lizzy
Who are You - The Who

Have we missed off your favourite drinking tune? Let us know in the comments.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Gin cocktails you've never heard of, but really need to try

Looking to do something a little different with your Gordon’s? Want to tweak your Tanqueray and Tonic? Make something other than a Martini? Well you’ve come to the right place. Here’s our low-down of the best gin cocktails you’ve probably not heard of, but really need to try.

Warday’s Cocktail

Taken from the classic Savoy Cocktail Book, this drink deserves to be brought back into public consciousness.

1 Teaspoonful Chartreuse (the traditional recipe calls for green Chartreuse, but yellow would work well too)
1/3 Vermouth
1/3 Dry Gin (we like herbaceous gins to counteract the apple flavouring in the Calvados, like Sipsmith)
1/3 Calvados or Apple Brandy

Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass.

Photo: Didriks (CCL)

This is basically a Negroni which swaps red vermouth for green Chartreuse. The name (the French word for ‘jewel’) is said to represent the jewels for each of the drinks’ components (diamonds for gin, rubies for red vermouth, and emeralds for the green Chartreuse).


50ml gin
25ml Green Chartreuse
50ml Martini Rosso
1 dash bitters

Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled glass.

Death in the Gulf Stream

Rumoured to be Ernest Hemingway's hangover cure. While we’re not convinced it’s the best way to treat a sore head, it’ll certainly give you one.


Peeled zest and 1 tablespoon juice from 1 lime
4 dashes Angostura bitters
1 teaspoon simple syrup (or a teaspoon of sugar will do)
100ml of gin (the traditional recipe calls for genever, but you could substitute it for a heavy-juniper gin such as Death’s Door or Langley’s No. 8)

Shake all ingredients with ice, pour into an ice-filled glass, churn, and top with more ice.

Monkey Gland
Photo: ChodHound (CCL)
This one is hard not to like – even by those who aren’t big gin drinkers. First created in the 1920s, it’s said to be named after a medical procedure from the time involving male genitalia and, erm, monkeys.


5 parts gin
5 parts fresh orange juice
1 part grenadine
1 dash absinthe

Combine gin, orange juice, grenadine, and absinthe in a cocktail shaker filled with ice; shake vigorously and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Suffering Bastard

Originally named the ‘Suffering Bar Steward’ after the poor, hungover chap who invented it, this is a beauty of a drink which, with the healing powers of limes and ginger, will melt away any suffering.


2 parts bourbon
2 parts gin
2 parts ginger ale
1 part lime juice
2 dashes bitters

Add the bourbon, gin, lime and bitters to an ice-filled glass, and top with ginger ale.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Book review: Where Bartenders Drink

What’s the first thing you do when you’re going to a new city? If you’re anything like me, it will be to scour the internet for the best bars and cocktails.

Sometimes, I’ll get lucky and hit upon a few gems, but more often than not, every available link is TripAdvisor, and the highest rated bar is a party Irish bar that’s just fabulous for hen and stag dos. Not really my thing.

That’s where ‘Where Bartenders Drink’ comes in. It’s a reference book of bars from around the world, selected by around 225 of the world’s top bartenders.

It’s been compiled by Adrienne Stillman, the co-founder and editor-in-chief at Dipsology, an online community for cocktail enthusiasts in NYC. When she’s not busy with that, she works in wine, spirits and hospitality marketing, as well as being a certified sommelier.

The book features 700 bars, covering everything from the fanciest cocktail bars, to the dingiest, charming dive bars, and hidden neighbourhood pubs. 

I am one of those people that goes to a new city armed with a list of bars I want to go to, rather than a list of sights I want to see. I’m afraid this book has made my boozy wanderlust just a little bit worse. Not only has it opened my eyes to a lot more places with great bar scenes, but the numbers of great bars in those places, too.

The bar reviews are insightful – these people really know their drinks, naturally – there are specially commissioned maps to help you find your way around, and introductory essays to different regions around the world.

I live in London, and the suggestions are a list of my favourite bars across the city – including Nightjar, Happiness Forgets, Callooh Callay, Blind Pig, and 69 Colebrooke Row – and the rest are on my must-visit list, with the likes of Dandelyan (I know, how have I not been yet?), The American Bar at The Savoy, and Artesian. So I’ve got plenty to tick off at home before I start dreaming of more cocktails further afield.

So if you’ve got a friend who’s constantly telling you where and what to drink, you know what to get them for their next present. I can guarantee they’ll find somewhere new., and you can feel nice and smug about it.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Paradigms and Pervenus @ Theatre of Wine

Those of you who have followed my wine adventures for a little while will know that every so often (and not nearly often enough, may I say…) I organise a wine tasting session for the somewhat grandly titled Camden Symphony Orchestra Wine Society. I say "grandly titled", as the name is a deliberate subterfuge designed to give an element of credibility and refinement to a rag-tag bunch of wastrels who agree with Primal Scream that “we just wanna get loaded; and we wanna have a good time”. 

Once more for this tasting we found ourselves at my favourite wine shop, Theatre of Wine in Tufnell Park. We were fortunate to be reunited with Jason for this tasting as he knows how to deal with situations such as one member of the group turning up with a bottle of Jameson, which he was sipping on in between wine flights – not something you’d see recommended in the WSET handbook for optimal wine tasting. In his defence, it was St Patrick’s Day on the day of the tasting, I’m sure he doesn’t always drink whiskey in between his glasses of wine... 

The brief for the evening I had set for Jason was to do a tasting that contrasted Old World traditions versus New World upstarts; which he delivered in the imaginatively titled tasting session: “Paradigms and Parvenus”. Whilst we reacquainted ourselves with the surroundings (and I dealt with the fact that I had completely cocked up the number of people who were attending…) we started with a 2015 Paolini Lance Grillo (Italy). On the nose this was a pleasant wine, if a little one-dimensional; it featured notes of lemon and had a slightly waxy-characteristic. On tasting it had bright flavours of lemon, tinged with side notes of green apple, pink grapefruit and a smattering of pineapple on the mid-palate. A decent wine (7.0/10.0) and a bargain at £10.90/bottle. 

From then on we were tasting wines in pairs, matching up the Old World wine against the New World wine. In this way we were able to compare and contrast the wines against each other and look for the variation between them.


Our New World Chardonnay came from Chile and was a 2014 Clos des Fous "Locura I" (Alto Cachapoal, Chile). It featured no oak on it at all and came from a vineyard with particularly high altitude. On the nose it had a rather unpleasant (for me) eggy, sulphuric note to it with little fruit evident. However, on the mouth it was surprisingly bright and fresh with a light pear flavour that was very enjoyable. Once you got past the nose, it was an enjoyable wine (7.0/10.0); £14.50/bottle. 

We contrasted this against a 2009 Guillaume Collection (Franche-Comte, France). This wine had certainly seen oak and was a fair bit older; on the nose it was rich and exotic with beautiful butterscotch notes. On tasting it was full of buttery deliciousness that reminded me of brioche, which was followed by mango fruit later on. I thoroughly enjoyed this wine (8.0/10.0); £29.00/bottle. This was as much, however, of a reminder a how variable and flexible the Chardonnay grape is, as much as it was a contrast between Old and New World wines.


For the roses, Jason played with the brief a little. Rather than going Old World vs New World, he focussed on showing the difference between winemakers who make rose in a “white wine” style, as opposed to those who make it in a “red wine” style (as you can see from the photograph to the right ->). For the white wine style of rose, we were presented with a 2015 Rimauresq (Provence, France) which was light and delicate on the nose (ie: didn’t smell of anything in particular) and when tasted had grapefruit notes, which I found a trifle dull (6.5/10.0); £12.80/bottle. 

On the red wine style we had a 2014 Oikonomoy Liatiko (Crete, Greece) which had a bizarre nose which was well described by one of the group as having “the funk of an old red wine that had gone bad”. On tasting, however, I really enjoyed this; it had more tannic presence and, as a result, had more structure. The dominant flavours that came through were redcurrant and red cherries. I also felt that there was almost a sherry-like oxidative profile to the wine – probably due to the unfiltered nature of the wine. I certainly preferred this wine to the previous, although I think you will be able to have guessed that! (7.5/10.0); £17.90/bottle. 

Rhone-style blends 

For the first of our two reds we started off by looking at Rhone-style blends. Our first in this duo was a wine from one of my favourite producers, a 2014 Liberator “The Francophile” (Stellenbosch, South Africa). On the nose this had very pleasing aromas of blueberry, blackcurrant and a sprig of hawthorn. On tasting it had a lovely blackcurrant juiciness to it, with just a wisp of smokiness too. This was a fantastically enjoyable wine (7.5/10.0) and a steal at the price, £9.80/bottle.  

To contrast we had a 2015 Betton Espiegle (Crozes-Hermitage, Rhone; France), which had a somewhat quiet nose featuring classy notes of red cherry and a bit of plum. On tasting it featured noticeably more body than the previous wine, whilst still having considerable acidity to balance it all out. There was an extra complexity to this wine of a slightly gamey taste (reminded me a little bit of smokey bacon). This was a good wine (8.0/10.0), but more expensive at £16.90/bottle – making the parvenu a much better value wine in my book. 

Aromatic reds 

The last of our pairs focussed on the holy grail of wine making, those light, ethereal, almost spiritual, aromatic red wines. We started with an offering from another of my favourite producers, a 2013 Au Bon Climat Santa Maria Pinot Noir (Sonoma County, USA). Interestingly this wine has been made specifically to recreate the Burgundian-style of Pinot – hence the name. The nose had characteristic sour cherry presence, with touches of eucalyptus and truffle underlining its elegance. The taste was delightful and sensuous, light and energetic, with bags of red fruit flavours, predominantly strawberry. A lovely wine (8.5/10.0); I think good value at £25.90/bottle.

This was contrasted with a 2015 Brezza Langhe Nebbiolo (Piedmont, Italy). Jason described this as being typically Italian in that it represented a “slightly sterner approach to wine”. On the nose it was a little quieter, but the taste was something very interesting – the presence of tannins was very noticeable, it also featured some very powerful black cherry notes. This, like a lot of Italian wines, is really a food wine and needs something to match against it. A classical wine, if not as enjoyable as the last wine from a hedonistic perspective (8.0/10.0); £19.90/bottle. 


As ever with the Theatre of Wine, this was an interesting and thought-provoking tasting. I feel that we all learnt something about the breadth and complexity of the wine world, and (hopefully) found some new passions as well as rekindling some old flames.

Thanks to Jason and the team for hosting us. We will be back soon!

Note: all prices quoted above are based on list prices from Theatre of Wine.   

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The best gin related summer events in 2017

Copper Rivet gin distillery guest post

It looks like 2017 is another great year for gin lovers. With a wide range of fantastic gin events and festivals on, you are spoilt for choice. The gin connoisseurs at Copper Rivet have pulled out what they think to be the best gin events of the summer, so get your diaries out and be sure to give them a try.

Junipalooza, London (Tobacco Dock) – World Gin Day 2017

Junipalooza is one of the biggest gin festivals in the UK. This year will be the festival’s fourth year, and many consider it to be the best way to spend World Gin Day. Junipalooza is essentially a celebration of gin – providing guests with the opportunity to sample fine quality gins from distilleries based all around the world. The festival will host 55 gin makers and 155 different gins, from 12 different countries. You can truly explore the world of gin at this unique and memorable event. The amazing Tobacco Docks venue is an added bonus, too.

Date: 11-12 June (Saturday – Sunday)
Location: Tobacco Dock, London, E1W 2SF
Ticket price: £30

For more information about the Junipalooza event, click here.

Frosts’ Chilli, Chocolate & Gin Festival, Woburn Sands, Milton Keynes (Frosts Garden Centres)

Are you a fan of chilli, chocolate and gin? Then you will love Frosts’ annual food festival. Boasting an excellent selection of the most unique chilli products, the best chocolatiers, and the finest gin producers in the UK, the Frosts day festival is a superb day out for foodies. While sampling local produce from a huge variety of UK producers, you can whet the palate with a selection of best gins. And help tame the heat. Whether you’re a lover of gin, chocolate or chilli, you’re guaranteed to pick up a few gems here.

Date: 26 August (August Bank Holiday)
Location: Woburn Sands, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, MK 8UE
Ticket price: £3

For more information about Frosts’ Chilli, Chocolate & Gin Festival, please click here.

Juniper Festival – Edinburgh (Summerhall)

The Juniper Festival is another fan favourite among gin lovers. The Edinburgh-based festival offers an excellent line up of gin and tonic makers, expert talks, and unique tasting experiences for everyone to enjoy. You’ll be able to try before you buy on a wide selection of gins, food products, handmade fashions and crafts. The Juniper Festival really is a celebration of all things gin, showcasing a wonderful array of styles and tastes, including of course, traditional Scottish gin. Guests can also explore the various food stalls and dabble in some of the finest street food around. Cocktail enthusiasts will be in their element too, with a fantastic choice of mixed drinks available.

Date: 2-4 June (Friday – Sunday)
Location: Summerhall, Edinburgh
Ticket price: £21.50

For more information about the Juniper Festival, please click here.

Gin Festival – London (Tobacco Dock) 

The Gin Festival is the UK’s biggest and oldest gin festival, and probably the most popular event in gin lovers’ calendars. This year’s festival will be hosted in 18 different cities throughout the UK, giving gin-thusiasts all over the country the opportunity to experience some of the best and most exclusive gin products on the market. London’s edition will, like Junipalooza, use the historic Tobacco Dock as its venue. With more than 100 different grains to try, this event is a gin lover’s paradise. There will also be gin masterclasses (with the opportunity to meet professional gin distillers), a gin cocktail bar, live music, and plenty of food to line your stomach with.

If you fancy carrying on the party, why not check out the incredibly popular London Gin Club, or take a stroll down to the classy 214 Bermondsey, where you can sample some the best gin and cocktails London has to offer.

Date: 25-27 August
Location: Tobacco Dock, Wapping, London, E1W 2DA
Ticket price: £15.21

For more information about the London Gin Festival, please click here.

So there you have it. If you don't have time to get to a gin festival this year, there are plenty of gin distilleries that offer tours these days. If you’re ever in the Kent or London area, take a gin tour at Copper Rivet, a brand new craft gin distillery in Kent.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Best UK wedding venues for booze lovers

Choosing the perfect wedding venue can be tough, but I'm a firm believer in picking a place that means a lot to both of you, to give your special day that extra wow-factor.

If you're as much of a booze fan as I am (of course you are, you're reading this), then there are plenty of amazing places to tie the knot in the UK that will give you tingles of joy. Here are some of my favourites:

For wine fans

A vineyard. Of course a vineyard. But you don't have to go oversees to find one with the a real presence. As well as some smaller vineyards that you can use as a setting for your wedding (such as Chilford Hall in Cambridgeshire and Highdown Vineyard in Sussex), there are some seriously special vineyard wedding venues, such as English Oak Vineyard in Dorset and Chapel Down in Kent.

Denbies weddings is a spectacular, award-winning vineyard in Surrey, where not only can you get wed among the vines, but you can have your reception in the romantically-lit cellars. They have various wedding packages on offer, and you can contact them for more information through the link above.

Or, hop over the county border to Sussex, to Bluebell Vineyard. Their entire range of Hindleap sparkling wines are award-winners, vintage, estate bottled, and really delicious. The winery terrace overlooking the vines is perfect for a drinks reception, or there's the option of a fully-lined marquee or more rustic barn. The whole venue feels really peaceful and calming, with the vines and surrounding woodland making for some gorgeous photo backdrops. The marquee can hold more than 120, and up to 180 guests. There are contact emails and numbers available on their website.

For beer fans

Breweries certainly seem to know how to get down, wedding-style. There are tons of breweries offering wedding venues in the UK (just research your local ones!) but three of the best are:

Shepherd's Neame in Faversham, Kent, where you can get married - among other places - in the brewhouse amongst the coppers and mash tuns, under the light of stained glass windows. Wow.

Bateman's in Lincolnshire. We've featured their beers before, but we also LOVE this sixth generation family-run brewery's attention to detail when it comes to weddings. The venue is lined with the largest bottle beer and poster collection in the country (pictured) and it's wonderful.

The Tap Room at Hilden Brewery, Northern Ireland - a pretty, low-key venue with its own beers on offer for guests, and a gorgeous restaurant providing a mouthwatering wedding menu.

For whisky and gin fans

Arguably the most popular whisky venue for weddings is the Glengoyne distillery, near Glasgow - especially in the winter, which of often a tough time for wedding wannabes. Imagine it - the guests can relax in front of the fire with a dram of amber nectar, and even if it's cold, the windswept beauty of Scotland will shine through in the photographs. If you don't believe me, have a google for wedding photos from the venue - they're magical.

Or then there's the Scottish Whisky Experience in Edinburgh. With wedding packages that include distillery tours and whisky tastings, it's really the perfect thing for whisky-mad couples. We know a few of them...

For gin fans, you could do a lot worse than the Plymouth Gin distillery. It's one of the best-known gin brands in the UK and welcomes wedding enquiries. If your nearest distillery doesn't have details about weddings on their website, get in touch. They're probably more likely to want to cater to bespoke clients, so it's worth asking what they can offer.

Where would you most like to get married, booze fans?