I feel we talk a lot about gin, don’t we? It’s a thing. Declan, Mr NN and I are all huge fans. We get hyper excited when we discover new ones like we did in the Summer with these.
So imagine our delight when we received an invite to a GIN FESTIVAL!!!!
I may have gone a little bit overboard with the exclamation marks and italics there but I have never been to a festival. I know I haven’t lived, have I? Declan has been to a decent amount over the last few years so I figure I have some catching up to do. We were also excited to be invited to be the official bloggers for the event which made us very happy. Declan wore the badge and took the photos whilst I mainly drank gin — hard work you know! You can read the review he wrote over on the Gin Festival’s website here.
It was held at Castlegate in Newcastle and we attended on the opening evening, the Thursday. We made an afternoon and evening of it by catching the train from Middlesbrough. First stop when we arrived at Newcastle was Hadrian’s Tipi which we had heard a lot about. If you haven’t heard about this it’s a pop up bar rigged up especially for the festive season. It’s two large tents festooned with twinkly fairy lights and a large central fire. We didn’t get a good photo so this one below is a similar version from York last year. You feel like Vikings!
TOP TIP: Don’t visit wearing your best going out gear — you come out smelling of bonfire. Great vibe, though — we loved it.
Next up the hunger pangs were kicking in for Declan and we were keen to try the new foodie quarter in Eldon Square. I will be honest and say we were all geared up for a pizza at Pizzastorm. The service was truly poor which really disappointed us. It was practically empty and there must have been half a dozen staff at the counter – none of whom seemed interested in the least with us. A guy who appeared to have some sort of supervisory role barked orders at two girls — they were deep in conversation. Five minutes later we were finally told they had no tomato sauce for our pizza base. What?? A pizza restuarant with no tomato sauce? Laughable really, isn’t it? Needless to say we left.
We came across George’s Great British Kitchen which I remembered I had read a great review about on CannyFood.co.uk. The difference here was like night and day. Great surroundings, fabulous food and attentive staff. Hopefully, we will go back and review properly soon. Our meal was lush.
Next up .. the main purpose of our visit .. The Gin Festival. When you arrive you are given as part of your admission charge a gorgeous balloon glass which is yours to use for the event and to then take home as a souvenir. You also receive the official ‘gin book’ guide. I would advise reading through this to decide which gin you would like to try first. We didn’t — we practically ran to the first bar like kids in a candy shop. The bars operate on a token system and do not take cash so you will need tokens to get your drinks. Tokens are £5 each with one token paying for a single measure of gin, garnish and a Fever-Tree mixer.
There was also a series of master classes through the early part of the event so we decided to attend the Poetic License Distillery one. This has rapidly become a favourite brand in our house and the fact that it’s Northern so much the better. We discovered from Luke how it has quickly positioned itself as a winner on the gin market and were able to taste their latest limited edition – Fireside Gin — launched only a few weeks ago for all the Winter gin drinkers. I hoped to purchase a bottle but sadly ran out of time. Shout out to anyone who is stuck for what to buy me for Christmas and is reading this!
I also managed to try a gin that I had wanted to for a long time but always put off – Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb and Ginger Liqueur. It’s my fear of ginger, I think. I’m not its greatest fan. The bartenders were all very helpful with advice and I was told that if I tried it mixed with soda water then the rhubarb would come through. I took the tip and was glad I did. Another one for the Christmas lust list, please!
Declan’s favourite was Rock Rose. Must be the Northern in us as this is the most northerly distillery in Scotland. We both loved that the mixers were all Fever-Tree. They are actually the show sponsor. You can’t be a gin drinker and not have Fever-Tree or Fentimans.
By this point it was 8.30pm and time was ticking for us as we had to catch the last train back to Middlesbrough. The event was clearly just livening up as the musical entertainment came on stage so I gave Declan the task of choosing a cocktail for us both. He chose a Singapore Sling for himself and a Rhubarb Rumble for me. We both agreed he drew the short straw on the cocktail choice. Even he likes rhubarb now.
Before we knew it the time had whizzed round to 9.15pm and Declan was ordering our Uber to take us to the station.
We had a great evening. I said next time I’d like Mr NN to come with us — I knew he felt as if he’d missed out. The age range was a good spread and there wasn’t anyone making a fool of themselves by having one too many — at least not at the point we had to leave.
I’ve heard on the grapevine there’s a gin and vodka festival coming up North in the Spring but in the meantime the lovely people at The Gin Festival have already organised their next event for Newcastle. It’s June 9th-10th 2017 at Newcastle Racecourse. All details can be found on their Facebook page under Events.