There are so many things I love about being a blogger, but the number of gin-based events it seems to entail is definitely a plus. Over the last few years, I’ve gone from being a naïve (non-disabled) 18-year-old student in the club, yelling my order for a G&T to make myself heard over the top of heavy dance tracks and sweaty lads yelling about their ladishness, whilst shotting cheeky Jägermeisters and throwing some seriously criminal shapes, to learning to appreciate the subtle differences in taste and textures, allowing me to smugly ask after my favourite gin when ordering in a bar and pretending like I’m classy.
Gin Festival co-ordinates multiple events all over the country, celebrating gin and all those who worship it. This past weekend, I went along to one of 3 sessions in York: this was the fourth year the event had run in the city, and organisers were expecting around 3000 guests over the 3 sessions. Entry typically costs between £10.00-16.00 depending on when you book, and that price includes your own souvenir gin glass (which you use at the event) in a cute over-the-shoulder pouch, a guide to the gin stands, access to various masterclasses and merchandise shops, and a few fun extras such as photo booths and selfie stops thrown in too.
This year’s event took place at the York Barbican, which was a big pro for me: I know from past experiences that it’s an accessible building in a great central location. After a short time queuing for bag checks, we collected our souvenir bags (and a gorgeous blogger tote and press pass for myself, ayyyy) and made our way through the shops and merchandise into the main foyer.
The bulk of the action took place in this main auditorium. Various gin stands, as well as street food and top-up stations (more on those later) were located around the edges, with tables and chairs conveniently placed in the middle. There was live music which made for a great atmosphere but was rather too loud for my noise-sensitive brain, so we were pleased to find additional seating upstairs on both the overhang balcony- great for sitting and people watching- and also in the quieter, upstairs foyer.
We were kindly gifted our first few drinks and introduced to the cashless payment system, which for me was a huge pro of the event. On entry, all guests receive a wristband: cash is exchanged for credit at one of the aforementioned top-up stations, then loaded directly onto your wristband. Bar staff then simply scan the wristband when it comes to paying for a drink. It was such an easy, faff-free way of doing things, and I can’t help but feel that other events, bars and clubs are missing a trick here. Not having to mess around with cash and change meant that service was quick and efficient, allowing more time for consuming ALL the drinks (in moderation…ish).
So, myself and my best pal Izzy set about on our diligent mission to find a new favourite. We used our booklet to read up on and select a few gins that we’d like to try, and our first port of call was to pick up Two Birds Strawberry & Vanilla Gin, originating from Leicestershire. The strawberry combined with the hint of vanilla essence gave a sweet and fruity flavour, with the complementary juniper and black pepper giving a refreshing taste… almost like a really classy adult Panda Pop. If you’re a fan of flavoursome drinks with just a spike of alcohol…ness coming through, this would be one for you.
Next, we went for Aduro Pink Passion Gin and oh my goodness, this is DEFINITELY my new thing. Fruity and flowery, the drink gave hints of tropical summer fruits such as raspberry and kiwi, and the fresh mint garnish was the perfect finish for the ultimate refreshing summer tipple. Drinking it made me wish I could be doing so sat in a fancy bar in southern Italy, its country of origin, but I suppose it’ll be equally as nice, if less exotic, to settle for enjoying it in a back room in Bridlington. Life.
The final drink we opted for was another Aduro, named Devil’s Tail Gin. This was a bit of a daring one for us: described as using the world’s hottest chilli for an ‘aromatic explosion’, I was borderline expecting Izzy (who I made drink it first) to burst into an alcohol-fuelled ball of flames in front of my very eyes. However, our expectations initially fell short. At first sip, no flavour seemed to come through and to quote expert connoisseur Izzy: ‘it doesn’t taste devilish you know, it just tastes like gin.’. However, the aftertaste did give a kick of spicy flavour and just the right amount of it: the kind that gives you that lovely warming sensation in your belly whenever you have a sip. Plus, it made me feel like an ultimate daredevil for trying something with a hint of chilli in it. I know, I know, wild times for Pippa.
The drinks we tried worked out at about £5.00 each, which was great value considering the size of the souvenir glasses they filled: each time you wanted to try a new drink, the bar staff gave your glass a rinse before filling it up again. Every part of the experience was so well thought through and made for a seamless and hassle-free event: this was especially appreciated since I was also in my wheelchair and having to navigate through hundreds of tipsy gin-lovers at the time. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get the usual stink-eye from people who seem to believe that wheelchair users shouldn’t be drinking alcohol, but such is life. If I saw my 23-year-old self, who I should probably point out still looks about 12, being pushed around holding two full glasses of alcohol and probably dazedly smiling at all those around me, maybe I would’ve judged them too. The temptation to pretend to slide out of my wheelchair and face-plant the floor was REAL.
Overall, I found the Gin Festival to be a good-value and really enjoyable experience: something a bit different to do on a weekend, and a great chance to discover some new favourite bevs. You can find your local Gin Festival by looking through their upcoming events, and I’d definitely recommend booking yourself in. Visit Gin Festival’s website to find out more, and use my referral link for £10.00 off for your own visit. TREAT YO’ SELF.
Are you a gin person? I’d love to hear your favourite drinks or combinations: leave a comment or let me know on social media and I *suppose*, I could take it upon myself to give them a go…