I adore the summer; sausages sizzling on the BBQ, British skin sizzling on the sun lounger, the smell of badly applied 'Hawaiian Tropic' in the air. It's glorious. In the summer, we become these new social beings, going for 'drinks' on a Tuesday night and inviting neighbours we haven't spoken to for six months around for drinks and 'nibbles'. We're like 17-year olds on our first holiday to Magaluf, taking every opportunity to make new mates and to seal these new friendships with a drink or ten. And 'Oh the Drinks', the glorious summer drinks that make their way out of the back of the dusty booze cabinet to be consumed in vast jugs with fruit and salad swimming in it like tiny alcohol sponges.
My favourite summer drink has to be gin. Gin is the type of acceptable spirit that can be enjoyed at all times and at all occasions without excuse. 12pm and the sun is shining, a little gin and tonic in the garden it is. 8pm and flirting on a first date, a gin and lemonade should do the trick. 8am and hungover from the gin the night before, I've got a gin marmalade martini for that. See, it's a respectable drink. So, when the lovely people at the Gin Festival contacted me to see if I fancied supping gin at their Portsmouth event with a pal, how could I refuse? It was all the best parts of summer in one trip.
The Gin Festival offers events across the country, with opportunities to try over 100 different gins, accompanied by their suggestion of the best mixers and fruity/minty alcoholic sponges. When you arrive, you're given a book filled with all the gins on offer and little descriptors to help you make those all-important decisions. This being a summer gig, I stuck mainly to the fruity numbers at the back of the book and remained faithful to my favourite liqueur of all time, Edinburgh Rhubarb and Ginger Gin, on more than one occasion. Although spending time to choose the right gin is important, and choosing gins named after a guy you fancy on a TV series is not the way forward. One of our group chose a glass of Ragnarok in honour of her favourite sexy Viking and nearly singed her eyelashes off in the process - that be some strong gin. The Gin Festival is the perfect place to live that summer life, chatting to strangers about botanicals and attempting to look ed-u-ma-cated during gin master classes whilst the four gins you drunk the hour previously warm your soul. There is food a plenty to soak up the booze and a cocktail bar if you fancy being fancy with your gin mixers. We took a non gin drinker along with us and she left having successfully having fallen in love with Poetic License's Strawberries & Cream Picnic Gin (could you have created a more summer drink than this?)
My only wish would be that they moved the venue in Portsmouth. Full Disclosure: I have been going to the same event for the past two years, and there is nothing less summery than the 1970’s chic of a musty theatre hall. It was impossible to take a sunny outdoor photo without including the shiny caged bars which surrounded the gin drinkers like we were in a tiny boozy jail (I mean not the worst prison to be sent to). Give me a little grassed area, a sun lounger or three, and I wouldn’t have left the festival until they dragged me out. As it was, we left with two hours to go, for a kebab and a sit down. The perfect end to any summer holiday.
The Gin Festival offer events across the UK. Click here for links to events near you. This is not a paid promotion, however I was given tickets and a few free gins for good measure.