BOTANICALS BLISS

It's an understatement to say that gin is having a moment. We can't get enough of the stuff - you can even swat up at Gin School. Kathryn Armstrong signed up and sipped away...
BOTANICALS BLISS

It’s a revision time of year. Angsty students and stressed out teens we share your pain.

But when you’re swatting up to be a boffin of the botanicals kind, then late nights with a stiff drink or a spritzy mixer are actually recommended, not frowned upon.

And in the ‘classroom’ of Newcastle’s Crowne Plaza, there’s no bored fidgeting or a desire for lessons to finish early. No, it’s all about soaking up the gin knowledge from your g-instructor.

We’re at the hotel’s first Gin School; this one hosted by well-known Scottish gin-maker Hendrick’s – with cucumber ready to garnish, of course.

It’s the first of monthly Gin Schools being held here, each will hosted by a different supplier to the hotel’s Gin Bar on the first Thursday of every month (In May it’s with Hepple Gin).

The premise is a simple one: gather together folks who love their gin, want to learn more, taste more and talk botanicals with the people who make it.

The format is relaxed and informal. The gin flows and talk is of the variations in tastes that come with a mix of different botanicals in the make-up of the gin and which mixers work best alongside to make the drinks shine.

Hendrick’s Gin was one of the first incomers to the new gin generation. The Scottish gin was launched in 1999. Its blend uses rose petals and cucumber alongside traditional botanicals. The taste is created with a blend of two separate spirits – one created in a small pot still and another in a carter-head still in order to extract the different flavours of the different botanicals.

It makes for an easy-drinking classic and refreshing summer drink – that slice of cucumber being the Hendrick’s trademark – with a Fever Tree tonic – but zesty lime or elderflower are good partners too.

Gin School will invite makers from small and large-scale producers to take the classes each month, so enthusiasts will be able to sample a wide range of gin styles, from small local artisan makers to the larger, more-established distillers like Hendrick’s.

The classes themselves will usually have about 15 ‘students’ and are in an informal, sociable setting. For Gin Bar manager Will Young it’s about channeling the huge interest in gin with a relaxed approach.

“It’s long been a dream of ours to educate people and encourage debate about this incredible spirit.

“We’re extremely proud of our North East roots which is why we stock so many local gins alongside the classics.

“The Gin Bar has set itself apart with as a place with a brilliant selection of cocktails.”

New additions to the cocktail menu launched for spring include the Tyneside Fizz made with Durham Gin, lemon, elderflower and Prosecco. 

Stirring stuff. And at the end of your lesson you walk away with a certificate proclaiming your PhG in gin-tasting and a Masters in mixing.


Gin School sessions are £30 each or £50 for two.

To book call 0191 562 3333 or [email protected]

theginbar-ncl.com


There’s no shortage of gin-based fun to be had this summer.

Here’s where to get your spirits high…

9 & 10 JUNE

The UK’s biggest and oldest Gin Festival returns to Newcastle packed with plenty of new and exclusive gins, cocktails and masterclasses from industry experts, it’s set to be a weekend to remember!

ginfestival.com

7 & 8 JULY

The Bathtub Session is a gin festival with a twist. Held at the Wylam Brewery, Exhibition Park, it’s an exhibition of the finest gin distillers offering over 150 delicious gins for guests to sample. Each distiller will host its own gin bar, headed up by well informed mixologists who will take you on a gin journey through time – giving you an insight of how their gin is distilled from start to finish. The sumptuous street food village offers up a delightful selection of local cuisine, craft beers and cool tunes.

thebathtubsessions.com

GIN TASTING EXPERIENCE

Slingsby Gin in Harrogate offers open sessions on alternate Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons for enthusiasts to enjoy ‘The Spirit of Gin’ experience. Friday night sessions are 6.30pm – 9pm and Saturday sessions are 2pm – 4.30pm. Includes a history of gin talk, 4 drinks per guest, gin tasters and canapés £40 per person.

wslingsby.co.uk

GIN TASTING MASTERCLASS – GRANGE HOTEL, YORK

The Grange Hotel in York invites you to pair two of life’s simple joys – great gin and bloomin’ good food. This truly indulgent experience kicks off with a masterclass by local gin experts, Still & Heart. With a gin cocktail in hand, guests will then be guided through a number of different gin, mixer and garnish combinations for inspiration. This Gin Tasting Masterclass is an educational journey of your favourite gins – followed by a delicious two course lunch in The Ivy Brasserie.

grangehotel.co.uk

HARVEY NICHOLS COCKTAIL MASTERCLASS

One should never mix one’s drinks… except at the Harvey Nichols Cocktail Masterclass. We’ll let you off with this one. With a delicious combination of gins, mixers and garnish ideas, it’s hard not to go mad! Join the mixologists at The Fourth Floor Cafe, Leeds for tastings, demonstrations and the chance to recreate your favourites. Guests will enjoy a welcome cocktail, followed by spirit tasting, a guide on how to shake three signature cocktails and the chance to get creative, mixing up your own masterpiece. The Cocktail Masterclass is available on selected Fridays throughout March and April – visit the website for more details. It’s the perfect party spot for a group of girlfriends.

harveynichols.com

THE PTMY GIN MASTERCLASS

Pleased To Meet You is Newcastle’s hottest venue for all things G&T. Their 90-minute Gin Masterclass is held in the exotic cocktail bar, Viceroy, and will give guests a brief history of the glorious spirit we all know and love. The trained mixologists will add to your gin knowledge, taking you on a great journey along the way.

ptmy-newcastle.co.uk


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