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Some people like Glastonbury, others like Leeds. Me? I am a Manchester Cathedral girl, or at least I was Saturday the 4th of March 2017. Gin festivals are certainly my kind of festival and the good people at The Gin Society put on a right ole slap-up, if such a dignified event can be termed such a thing?
I was there for the festival’s debut last September, I remember walking in and finding the venue utterly enchanting. It was no different this time. As the daughter of an ex church pastor it feels almost sacrilegious to say Manchester Cathedral was built for such events. But I’ll risk it.
After you’ve shown your tickets (be they electronic or paper) at the door, you are handed your glass and bible (I mean booklet/catalogue) of gins for the evening, and are pointed towards the various sections of the event.
I don’t remember the September festival being divided into types of gin, but maybe I was too awe-struck to notice. The colour-coded gin bars did not escape my attention on Saturday night however.
There were three distinct groupings, Fruit Gins, World Gins and British Gins which there seemed to be a blooming lot of! Praise be! It certainly was testimony to the exploding gin scene both locally here in Manchester and nationally across the UK.
How the event works, is that you purchase drink vouchers in multiples of £5, £10 and £20 from the designated station. If you drink less than the worth of your voucher, they will refund you the difference, so no need to worry if your gin eyes are bigger than your gin belly.
Fortunately that was never going to be my problem.
Once a voucher is in your hot little hands you peruse either the booklet or the bottles (depending on how you like to pick your
horse gin). It is an odd idiosyncrasy of mine, that I can not start the night with a fruit gin, instead saving them for ginssert later in the evening. So I headed for the world gins being the woman of the world that I am *smirks*.
My first gin of the evening was Elephant Gin which I chose simply because I had never had a German gin before. It also contains botanical such as Baobab which I had enjoyed in other gins previously, and Devil’s Claw which I never knew was a thing.
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On arriving at my decision, the bar staff took their time in telling me what garnish and tonic was recommended. In this case it was Fentimans Ginger Beer garnished with ginger. Because I like to taste my gin the first time round, I asked for it to be served with Fentimans Tonic Water instead, but keeping the ginger garnish.
The astute bar tender hearing this, offered me a taste of my gin neat before she poured in the tonic. This kind of thoughtfulness carried on throughout the night. I never once felt rushed, I felt the staff were engaging and happy to chat about their own favourites when asked, and to also make suggestions. This added to the warm atmosphere that already existed, and also suggested that the festival was about the whole experience. The staff I had the pleasure of encountering on the night, were truly a credit to the festival organisers.
An important point to mention is that I was accompanied by my *whispers* non gin imbibing husband. I know, I know, it is a precarious match.
There is a great selection of drinks for those not as into gin (o.O) such as ales, Prosecco Gin Cocktails and a soft drinks bar.
In true cave man style it was hubby’s job to hunt the food and he found us the most delicious burgers for our dinner with bacon jam! Bacon Jam I tell you!!
I sampled *ahem* a few gin’s on the night, and there are a couple of English gins such as Alnwick, Batch and Sir Robin of Locksley , I will add to my growing collection. I didn’t buy any on the night as I thought we may be going out dancing later, and didn’t want to be carrying around bottles, worried I may not be admitted into licensed premises with them. That might be a service the organisers could look at if it was workable in the future. Not because it is necessary, but because it might be a nice touch.
I was really pleased to see that there were more chairs this time round. Last September we left the festival early due to lack of seating. It was just unfortunate that we were in the middle of a house renovation, and were both completely knackered and couldn’t physically stand up any longer. But that was certainly not a problem this time around, arriving at about 7:30 pm we easily found space for our party of 5. I am always impressed by organisers who take on feedback. It not only aids their event but also makes me at least feel heard and valued.
The music was quaint, the atmosphere buzzing and we stayed until we were turfed out, as all in our party were having a thoroughly enjoyable time.
Will I be back in September? With bells on. In fact I have already bought 4 tickets for my gang, and know of another friend at least who will be joining us. No doubt our party will grow, and we will have another ginspired night of fun, friendship and gin.
If you would like to purchase tickets, you can do so here. I look forward to seeing you there.