June 25, 2013 by caitlinvaclark
Am I getting too old for this, I thought as I scrambled for my lost flip-flop while simultaneously trying to get to the head of a stampede of gin thirsty hipsters, all ducking under the small tents to avoid buckets of rain. One guy was actually ascending the tent pole to reach over the crowd in order to garner the attention of the bartender. Just as I’m pretty sure this stranger was going to climb onto my shoulders, the water accumulating on top of the tent spilled over drenching my friend’s back. It’s official. This is too much… Ahh but then my lips got another taste of a tangy and effervescent gin-studded concoction. Suddenly the crowd of drowned wet rats transformed from an annoyance to a united front of friends all tasked with the oh-so-important job of naming the best gin cocktail.
Twas the scene two weekends ago at the Tweat Up event, Ginstock 2013. 10 local bars, each representing a different brand of gin, were serving up a fabulous cocktail in hopes of being crowned the winner. For me, the ratings were based first and foremost on the cocktail taste, including ratio of gin to mixers, style of drink, and overall flavor. But I gave bonus points for over all experience and amount of swag given. Yes, I’m willing to admit it. My vote could be bought by a free pen, an airline bottle of their cocktail for later, or a coupon for a future free drink.
Some venues took the competition more seriously than others, offering up incredible bounty, snacks, and carefully crafted cocktails. Not everyone, however. I won’t name names but the bartender at a certain booth had definitely over imbibed and was making a hot mess of a cocktail. If there was one good thing going for him, it was that he was too drunk to remember to stamp your ticket so by the end of the event when the goal became, let’s just get pissed, he didn’t seem to notice when we came back to his booth again and again.
In the end only one of the ten competitors could take home the title and this year the lucky winner was Boodles Gin and the Gilbert Scott Bar at St. Pancras. I suppose it wasn’t actually due to luck. They painstakingly infuse their gin with additional juniper berries and herbs, but I think it was the pineapple juice that won the heart of the crowd, including my husband’s. And it probably didn’t hurt that they sent you off with adorably packaged smoked butter and black pepper popcorn. Chris does love a good snack.
While I might be getting to old for a boozy festival every weekend, Saturday was a great reminder of how wonderfully gin lends itself to a variety of delicious drinks. For the times when I want a more civilized cocktail hour, here’s the perfect refreshing summer gin drink to make at home: a Cucumber Mint Gimlet.
Cucumber Mint Gimlet
100 ml gin
100 ml cucumber juice*
juice of one lime
6 fresh mint leaves, plus more to garnish
2 slices cucumber
Pour gin, cucumber juice, and lime juice into a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice. Clap the mint leaves between your palms then tear into the cocktail shaker. Shake the mix vigorously then strain into two cocktail glasses over ice. Top with a splash of soda water and garnish with a mint sprig and cucumber slice.
*Make cucumber juice by grating a cucumber using a box grater. Then strain, pressing with a rubber spatula, through a fine sieve.