The Gin Festival came to Portsmouth last weekend, to the Guildhall. And, of course, I was there. There were over 100 gins to try straight, in cocktails, with tonic – however you take it – street food stalls, gin demos and live music. My friend Alanna and I went along to see how many gins we could manage in our afternoon time slot.
We did well.
Tinker Gin, Conker Gin, Conker Coffee Liqueur, Bathtub Gin, Sanction Gin, Brockman’s Gin, Black Tomato Gin (never again), and the Zymurgorium Manchester Marmalade Gin (favourite).
That was just me (some were served small as tasters, promise).
For your £18 entry fee you get a copa balloon glass – apparently the only way to drink gin these days – a bag to keep it in, and a guidebook to all the gins showcasing at the festival. You also get to try the sample room, with or without tonic.
The main room was set out in four sections:
A – UK gin
B – More UK gin, but dry
C – European gin
D – Liqueur gin
I tried one from each, and then all the other samples were half shots for free from the stands. Each drink was a fiver, which included the mixer, and then the cocktails were £10.
After all the excitement of arriving, and getting a bit tipsy on the three shots I had as soon as I entered the tasting room, I thought it was a good idea to get some food. Welcome to the pulled beef and stilton mayo burger. Exquisite. Never even knew stilton mayo was a thing.
There were two other food stands serving Mexican and Indian, but the burgers definitely had the longest queue. It would depend on the layout of where your local gin festival is, but at the Portsmouth Guidhall these were all set up outside, alongside the gin punch – which unfortunately I didn’t have chance to try.
Each main gin sponsor ran a talk to give a bit more information about the gin, and how they’re made and why they’re unique. We went to the Tinker one, seeing as the the rep, and the blogger behind undertheginfluence, was so lovely… and she told us she was giving out loads free. But mainly because she was lovely. The room was packed though so I presume she must’ve been telling everyone.
The Gin Festival
So from my hard earned research, you go to the Gin Festival to drink gin, learn about new ones, eat tasty burgers and dress up. Perfect Saturday afternoon, for me anyways.
We got chatting to these guys – seeing as they had matching ‘Gin Club 4-2-8 t-shirts on – we soon found out it was a MAN’s gin drinking club in Southsea. Apparently, so they say, women ruined gin drinking for England back in Victorian times, by getting too drunk and getting moonshine makers shut down and prohibited, and so they’re not allowed to join in case they ruin it again.
They were actually really nice guys who were super passionate about their gin and seemed to have a lovely time hanging out together. I told them my gin club was better than there’s anyway, and I wouldn’t want to be a member. Not bitter. Not at all.
Portsmouth Gin Festival
I was invited to Portsmouth Gin Festival, and given a few free tokens in return, to see if I liked it. Of course I did. I’d definitely recommend you check to see if there’s one in your hood any time soon.
There are still Gin Festivals in Lincoln, Eastbourne and London, and more, to come. Check out the Gin Festival website for more details!
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