I’ve been to cocktail festivals before and beer festivals but the organisation that goes into the Gin Festival and I’m prepared to say it’s my favourite so far. I was overwhelmed entering the Harrogate Convention Centre but once I got the hang of how the festival works, I loved it.
There are four different bars; A, B, C and D which have gins allocated to them depending on taste and origin – A & B serving British gin, C international and D fruity. These bars are full of hanging gin bottles and you can simply point on the one you’d like to try and it’ll be served. The bartenders also have Fever-Tree tonics they recommend to mix with to give the best taste. More and other flavoured tonics are available around the room should you want to pick your own. As long as you use the ratio 1:2 you’re fine, and that’s 1 measurement gin. I was told there’s no point doing half and half or more gin to tonic, it tastes best with one serving of gin and two servings tonic. The festival also has a Boutique Bar with a selection of gins than differ from each festival and a cocktail bar should you not be a fan of merely G&Ts. Be aware, these drinks are double the price.
The festival spans over two days, usually Friday evening and two sessions on the Saturday. I chose the Saturday midday session so I wouldn’t have to struggle to get a late night train home, and also, midday drinking is my preferred time of drinking.
Four and a half hours sound long enough for getting tipsy on gin but it’s not near enough time to be able to try all of the gins on display. There are over 100 gins to try so you need to be careful when choosing. The booklet handed out on arrival helps a lot. You can easily book mark your favourites to make sure you try a variety of different gins.
Each gin is £5 but there are also free tastings throughout the day of specially chosen gins which are on demonstration. Each of these gin companies also do an arranged talk where even more gin is handed out for free. So if you want to get drunk, you can.
Instead of paying with tokens like previously, you’re now given a wrist band with a contactless badge. You can top it up whenever you feel like and simply tap at the bars when ordering, like contactless bank card. It’s such a clever and hassle free system! It saves time having to exchange money or tokens.
Included in the ticket price, you get your very own gin goblet which you can take home afterwards. You also get a handy little “man bag” which allows you to carry the glass around easily, when it’s empty (is it ever?!), together with the gin booklet. They really have thought about everything to make sure you’re having a good time. They even have live bands performing and entertaining throughout the day and evening.
What I liked the best, and what differs from the other drinks festivals I’ve been to, is that this one is so chilled! Anyone, no matter if you’re a gin specialist or a vir-gin when it comes to this tipple, enjoy this time equally as much. It’s a great chance to learn about new gins you probably never come across on the high street or to fill up on the ones you already love. I tried plenty of gin I’ve never had before which was really nice. It makes me wish I had a budget to by myself a new and different bottle of gin each month.
Aduro Pink Passion has a fruity touch to it. I tried it with recommended Aromatic Tonic. Of course I had to try a skull gin – Skully London Dry – with coriander, citrus and liqourice hints. I tried a very similar in taste called Electric Spirit Co. Achroous which I prefer.
My favourite though is the Souvereign Spirits Elderflower & Gooseberry Liqueur. So nice and fruity but in a refreshing way rather than sweet. I tend to go for elderflower gins and together with the gooseberry it gives a sour hint. Topped with Fever-Tree Soda Water and I could sip on it all day lon
Have you been to the Gin Festival yet? I’m definitely going again next year, so many more gins I’d like to try. If you too want to go next year, check out their website for dates, locations and tickets.
*I was invited by the Gin Festival to enjoy the day, in return for this post. All views are my own.