They say that there is no finer pass-time than drinking with friends…
Well, I don’t know who actually says that, but I do think it is pretty good mantra!
Some of my funnest social occasions have been when alcohol is involved – sorry you sticklers out there, I have more fun with alcohol! And Saturday night at the Gin Festival in Leeds was no exception.
Even though I didn’t really know anyone in our group, other than my boyfriend, alcohol always brings people closer together. And I delighted in downing shots and picking fruity mixers to pair with my gins, whilst listening to live music in the splendor that is Leeds Town Hall with a new group of people.
The Gin Festival has exploded in popularity in recent years, with the event now sprawling across the entirety of a weekend a year, in Leeds alone. The concept? Discover over 100 types of gin from the four different pop-up bars, and try free tasters of up and coming brands. You won’t find the likes of Gordon’s gin or Hendrick’s at this shindig! More like Slingsby’s Rhubarb concotion, or the Black Tomato gin. Or if you like something fruitier, like me, then Pinkster’s raspberry botanical gin.
I’ve never been much of a gin drinker, but this summer I’ve begun experimenting with different gins to see what I like, and so it was great fun to get the chance to try a load of brands that you wouldn’t necessarily find on the shelf in Asda.
Tickets for the event were £10, and for that you get your entry fee plus a goodie bag upon arrival that consists of a sponsored big gin glass, an information booklet that included all the different gins on offer and the specific bars they would be served at, a pen, an event badge, and an order form (should you wish to purchase a bottle or five of your favourite gin).
Purchasing drinks inside the event works on a token system. One shot of gin with a mixer and garnish costs one token (at £5 each), so you purchase the number of tokens you’d like to get at a stall. I found that 3 tokens was the perfect amount for the evening, especially as I drank additional free shots. But if you’d like to purchase a drink from each of the four bars then by all means fill up your token card and get 4!
Leeds Town Hall was transformed into essentially a giant, hipster bar with high top wooden tables dotted around to rest drinks on, four bars with different gins at each, and a couple of live music acts on a stage which added to the atmosphere. I found myself singing and dancing along as I hopped around from bar to bar.
Downstairs there was a room where about 10 brands had set up sampling stalls where you could taste free shots and try them with small mixes of tonic, (or in the case of the Black Tomato, with tomato juice to make a ‘Red Snapper’). I’m not really one for shots, but Brockman’s gin had a lovely berry after-taste that was actually quite nice!
There also was apparently a ‘Secret Bar’, but it was so secret that nobody knew where it was so it closed early… which is hilarious!
The Gin Festival was the perfect way to spend Saturday night and I am already looking forward to next year so that I can introduce it to more of my friends too.
As a wise woman once said, ‘there is no finer pass-time than drinking with friends’.
That wise woman was me.
And now she likes gin.