Monday, 8 December 2014

Ginstock 2014

Ginstock. Yup, that’s right, a thing of dreams; a festival of gin! *
*Unfortunately though, it was last weekend, but there’s always next year. 

The London event was meant to take place in Hackney back in June, on World Gin Day, but due to complications with licensing - thanks to the World Cup *evil stare* - it had to be postponed. Last Saturday (29th November) saw #Ginstock 2014 kick off at a brand new venue in Bermondsey with a world-class line-up of some of London's best bars and bartenders, mixing brilliant drinks with their favourite gins.


So, Ginstock is the juniper child of Tweat Up (or @BigEater), who organise regular meet ups of people on Twitter, with a serious amount of eating and drinking involved (look out for other delicious events like Ribstock, Taco Wars, Pork Life, National Burger Day). The premise is that eight bars each have a particular gin which they have to create a unique cocktail with; a 500-strong crowd of thirsty gin-lovers then try all of them before deciding which one they think is best. The winners get to lift the ‘Juniper Cup’ and pocket a whopping £2000 cash prize!

The ticket price this year was £36 and got you your voting card, all eight cocktails, an aperitif of Kamms & Sons with Bitter Lemon, and a Caorunn gin-laced Fentimans Rose Lemonade and strawberry “Poptail” from LICKALIX (see Jo’s feature on LICKALIX from August).

We were advised to take regular food breaks in between drinks, and we had a fine selection of street food traders to choose from; B.O.B.'s Lobster (also at the Wine Car Boot Tim went to), En Brochette and Yum Bun. Plus, there was jazz – complete with 1920s dancers – craft beer for when tongues couldn’t take any more gin, additional cocktails and toasty fires to keep everyone warm whilst the daylight disappeared.

Tasting began at noon and votes had to be in by 5pm - eating, meeting, tweeting (and dancing) continued whilst votes were counted, then at 6pm the winners were announced. It was pretty much my FAVOURITE DAY EVER.

The eight competition teams were as follows (details in the image): 

Had this event been in summer, we’d have probably seen lots of light and fresh cocktails – elderflower always makes an appearance with gin when the sun’s shining – but because the event was on the cusp of December, competitors were forced to change their game and concoct drinks with more of a wintery twist. As it turned out, tea was a popular choice, and we were even treated to a hot buttery cocktail!

The podium drinks were; in third place, the brand new Half Hitch & Cecil’s ‘Daisy Chain’ (Half Hitch Gin, apricot preserve, bergamot, raspberry, passion fruit syrup and lime juice, charged with soda) ; second, Williams Chase & The Whip ‘Not Shoddy’ (Williams Chase Elegant Gin, bramley apple, lemon, Earl Grey tea, whey and burnt butter – hot); and first, Butler’s Gin & Love’s Company ‘East Side Fizz’ (Butler’s Gin, a lavender ‘Purple Passion Potion’, lemon juice and soda).

The ‘Not Shoddy’ and ‘East Side Fizz’ were my faves – I voted for the latter, because anything with lavender is always a winner with me – along with Sipsmith’s seasonal sloe Negroni ‘3-Way Sloe Grind’. Dodd’s creamy ‘Bee & Tea’ was an interesting one too; gin and cream aren’t something I’d think of putting together, and served with miniature scones – too cute!

Photo taken from @MattTheList's Ginstock images
All in all, a jolly good juniper day was had, so I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for Ginstock 2015. AND, what’s even better, we’ve got The Whip’s special recipe for the ‘Not Shoddy’; it’d be an awesome alternative to mulled wine this Christmas. Make it and enjoy!

Photo taken from @WilliamsGin
Not Shoddy (makes 2 bottles)
  • 1 Bottle of Williams Chase Elegant Gin
  • 5 Bramley Apples
  • 250g Caster Sugar
  • 250ml Water
  • 4 Sliced Lemons
  • 2 Earl Grey Teabags 
  • 150ml Whole Milk

Peel the apples and add the skin to the caster sugar, mixing slowly until all the skins are covered with sugar. Leave to infuse for 2 hours. 
With the peeled apples, core, chop, juice and simmer on a low heat until reduced.
Add the apple sugar, reduced apple, water, sliced lemons and tea to a pan, simmer on a low heat for an hour.
Strain the mixture with a sieve so you are left with a light syrupy juice. Add the Elegant Gin. 
Heat the milk to 82° and pour it into the gin and juice, it will instantly curdle.
Fine strain the punch through cheesecloth, separating the curds from the rest of the punch, and bottle. (This can be kept for up to 2 years in a cool, dry place)
Serve hot, topped with marbled brown butter (see how to do this here).

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