You’re going to start seeing a lot of afternoon tea on the blog – I’ll tell you about my current project in detail soon –  and I’m going to kick it off with one that’s a little bit out of character for me – the guilt free vegan afternoon tea at RAW in Bayswater.

raw vegan afternoon tea la suite west

Don’t be put off by the name, or selling point, of the afternoon tea at RAW – it may be guilt free and vegan but it’s delicious and satisfying nonetheless.

Located inside boutique hotel La Suite West (just over the road from Bayswater tube station) visitors are greeted at the front desk with a complimentary smoothie of the day – on the day I went it was pear, apple and lemon, and was lovely. Service excels from the moment you walk in.

raw vegan afternoon tea la suite west

You can choose whether to take your tea inside the restaurant or outside on the terrace. Despite its location, the outside seating area is peaceful and relaxing, as it faces onto an attractive residential area rather than the main road.

raw vegan afternoon tea la suite west

The afternoon tea itself is priced at £27 per person. For that you get a glass of non -alcoholic fizz (RAW doesn’t serve alcohol) which I thought tasted a bit like apple juice, and as much loose leaf tea (in varying flavours) and coffee as you like, as well as, of course, the nibbles. Oh and the yummy smoothies!

raw vegan afternoon tea la suite west

The selection of finger sandwiches have interesting fillings; my favourites were avocado chilli mousse with rocket and roast tomato with sunflower seed pesto.

Of the canapes, the hummus on gluten free bread were surprisingly moreish with a nice bite to them.

raw vegan afternoon tea la suite west

And I would never have guessed that the cheese in the filo pastry bites with asparagus was actually made of almonds!

raw vegan afternoon tea la suite west

It was unanimously agreed amongst my group that the highlight were the scones – homemade and served with strawberries and whipped coconut ‘cream’, they were light and not too filling.

raw vegan afternoon tea la suite west

The desserts were also surprisingly good – the sticky toffee and chocolate fudge cake bites were decadent and as good as any dairy version I can think of.

raw vegan afternoon tea la suite west

And the mini squares of lemon cake topped with cacao cream, coconut and pomegranate… I’m convinced the cacao cream was Nutella!

raw vegan afternoon tea la suite west

For an unhealthy eating, heavy meat eater, I was really surprised how impressed I was by RAW. They certainly challenged the misconception that vegan food has to be boring! I will definitely be going back for dinner sometime.

Thank you so much for having me La Suite West!

Next up for afternoon tea I have the Anarch-Tea at the W London Leicester Square – I’m off to the launch event tonight. Should be an interesting one!

I’d love any suggestions for good, unusual teas that anyone might have – I’m putting together my afternoon tea bucket list as we speak!

L xx

All photos my own.

Disclaimer: I was invited along for a complimentary afternoon tea with no obligation to blog about it. This is a genuine, honest review.

RAW - La Suite West Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

If anything is going to have me up for a 10am start on a Sunday, it’s the promise of bottomless bubbles! So this morning I dragged my lazy self out of bed for the Rock’N’Roll Brunch, which Hard Rock Cafe London kindly invited me to for a review.

Let’s face it, a bottomless rock’n’roll brunch has everything I love – breakfast food, alcohol and live music. It couldn’t really go wrong, right?

The Drinks

Our table had a little tray full of garnishes to build your own Bloody Marys, which was great fun! Although, I have to admit, the Mimosas were my preferred drink. And they certainly were bottomless! Our waitress was fantastic, there wasn’t a moment for the entire two hour brunch that we had an empty glass – she was even bringing a couple each at a time!

brunch1

Tea, coffee, orange juice and water were also on offer.

The Food

There isn’t really much more I can say about the drinks, so onto the food. It was a three course brunch – the food wasn’t unlimited by the way, the ‘bottomless’ refers to the drinks, as I’ve found it generally does for brunch.

pancakes

We started with bagels and stacks of American pancakes – with a selection of toppings (whipped butter, maple syrup, warm strawberry compote and smoked salmon cream cheese with pickles). I’ll be honest, by the time I’d finished these I was already pretty full!

omelette

The second course was my favourite – baked eggs with red peppers, spinach and feta, topped with grilled courgette and parmesan. Which was weird as I was sceptical at first, it was a bit like a Spanish omelette, and I’m not really an omelette fan.

brunch2

The final course, the one everyone was looking forward to, was your classic American brunch platter – Southern fried chicken and waffles, streaky bacon, huge chipolata sausages, diced potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, cowboy beans and grilled tomatoes.

brunch3

The Music

Entertainment was in the form of a live acoustic band performing covers of popular rock and blues songs (and everything else inbetween!)- with everything from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Outkast. The band, led by AJ Moore and Jonathan Tingall, played three 15 minute sets to go with each course, and they were great!

brunch4

If they’d simply played the whole time, it would have perhaps stifled conversation as it was so loud, but the sets were well timed for when everyone had their mouths full, so it worked really well!

The Venue

It was a nice set up. We were seated by the window, with a view of the park, which was lovely since it was a sunny day. It messed up my photos though! (But let’s face it, I’m hardly a skilled photographer, haha!).

As a music fan, I do love the interiors of Hard Rock Cafe – there’s always interesting stuff to look at, and I love the laid back yet cool atmosphere.

Did you know that Hard Rock Cafe London was actually the first Hard Rock Cafe to be opened? It’s funny how many tourists we saw having their photo taken with the sign – and that must be why!

I am a fan of the Hard Rock brand – whenever a Hard Rock Hotel is an option I always stay there (the HRH Tower suites in their Las Vegas hotel are my favourite rooms, but that’s for another post sometime…) and I’m one of those people who tend to visit a Hard Rock Cafe in the cities I travel to (did you know that each Hard Rock Cafe has it’s own special burger, created to reflect local tastes?).

Enough, Hard Rock propaganda – I promise I’m not paid to say all this, haha! But I do get involved in a few things with Hard Rock Cafe London (remember the Grease Pop Picturehouse event?). I have a couple of events there coming up soon actually – Pop Picturehouse have some cool movies planned, and Yelp are holding a Beer Pong Bash in Hard Rocks Back Room Bar which should be super fun!

I’d definitely recommend the Rock’N’Roll Brunch for a casual Sunday breakfast – it runs every Sunday in April and you can get tickets from Design My Night here for £29.95 (not bad for a bottomless brunch in Mayfair!).

L xx

All photos my own unless otherwise stated.

Psst… If you want to see someone elses take on the brunch (and some much better photography!) Lauren from Saharasplash wrote about it here.

After a quiet few weeks (I’ve recently started an awesome new job and been recovering from a chest infection), things are starting to pick up again, and I’ve actually done some pretty cool stuff this week!

Le Boutique Bazaar

Le Boutique Bazaar is something I want to tell you about in more detail at some point soon, so for now I’m just going to say what it is and what I bought. Held at McQueen in Shoreditch, it’s an alternative fashion event, I believe run in conjunction with Torture Garden – think latex, corsets, bondagewear and accessories all with a festishy twist.

Usually things I want at Le Boutique Bazaar are out of my price range, but this time I picked up a couple of things.

Elissa Poppy does some gorgeous lace effect latex pieces, and I bought a really great value (£10!) wrist and ankle cuff set, which will be perfect for an event I’m going to in the next couple of weeks – The Goblin King’s Masquerade Ball.

elissapoppy

I also put down a deposit for a bespoke ring collar from Darkest Star. You can see it in the picture below with gold rings – mine will have silver.

darkeststar

Photo from www.darkeststar.com

At a discounted price of £112.50 it isn’t cheap. But it is really great quality and it’s so very me.

I also won a competition with Beautifully Undressed and got myself a lovely gift set from Tallulah Love with some lacy panties and an eye mask. I never win anything so I was over the moon!

Yelps Golden Ticket Charlie & The Chocolate Factory Event

You’ll have noticed by now that I do quite a lot with Yelp, and this event was one of my favourites so far – there were limited spaces and I was so lucky to get one!

hotelchoc

I’ll be telling you all about it in the next few days – we started with some chocolate making at Hotel Chocolat in Covent Garden and finished with the musical Charlie & The Chocolate Factory at Theatre Royal Drury Lane (remember the ghost stories? You can read about them here).

Secret Cinema – 28 Days Later

Another thing I want to tell you about in more detail – Secret Cinema, the 28 Days Later experience. It was SO GOOD. For now, have me and my friends Kat and Georgia in our scrubs and masks…

28days

Ginder

You know I love gin, right? I mean I even did the blogging for Gin Festival recently (see my post about it here). Oh, and a review of the Gin Explorer subscription box is coming soon. Anyway, I digress.

On Friday I received an invitation (through Yelp) to the Ginder experience at World of Gin in Bethnal Green. Running for this weekend only, World of Gin were hosting half hour gin tasting sessions to match you with your ideal gin and tonic combination. It was fun. And boozy. Check out their upcoming events on their website – I believe they have Cardiff and Birmingham coming up.

Psst… it’s only on writing this that I’ve realised that Ginder is a play on Tinder, it’s all about finding your perfect match. Clever.

ginder

So, that’s about it for this week. But I have another fun filled week coming up, so watch this space!

L xx

All photos my own unless stated otherwise.

I can’t cook. I don’t cook. Which I think is pretty obvious since I eat out ALL THE TIME. So when I was invited by Joe Blogs and Currys PC World for a cookery masterclass with Hotpoint and Lisa Faulkner I was a little hesitant. But I bit the bullet and went along. I mean what could go wrong?

So, on a cold Thursday evening, I made my way to the Hotpoint Design Centre in Fitzrovia. It’s a beautiful, inspirational space, a showroom (although way plusher and well though out than anything the word ‘showroom’ will bring to mind) for the Luce range of appliances. In the basement is a working kitchen with plenty of counter space and seating, ideal for foodie events.

The Lady

Whether it’s for her acting (I personally remember her most vividly from a rather gruesome ending in Spooks, but she’s also been in Brookside and Holby City amongst others), or her cooking (she won Celebrity Masterchef in 2010), if you’re British and watch TV you’ll at least recognise Lisa Faulkner.

lisapineapple

Since turning to a career in cooking, Lisa has written three recipe books – most recently ‘Tea and Cake’ which came out in February and is available from bookshops or Amazon.

lisabook

So with all this under her belt, I think Lisa was a pretty good choice to host a masterclass to show us all how to make a couple of her favourite spring recipes.

lisasyrup

I liked Lisa a lot. She oozes that kind of effortlessly casual beauty that I could never achieve and was a joy to spend time with. And when faced with a non cook like myself (which I don’t think she was expecting!) she was patient and kind. She was happy to show me the basics like how to use the blender (rookie error – always check it’s actually plugged in…) and to explain ingredients that I was unfamiliar with (noteably fennel).

The Cooking

We were shown by Lisa how to make two very different recipes – lemon sole fillets en papillote and pineapple upside down cake – before being split into pairs (my partner was the lovely Giselle from Who’s For Dinner?) to make them ourselves so we could all sit down for dinner.

Giselle and I lucked out with the task of making the pineapple upside down cake. If you’re going to cook, it’s always better to cook the cake, right? Plus I didn’t trust myself with the knives…

tray

Following the steps we’d watched Lisa take (and the recipe book, but I’m more of a wing it person when it comes to cooking – and life, but that’s a whole different topic…) we made a very sticky, syrupy version of the old fashioned classic.

I started by covering the tin in maybe a little too much Golden Syrup but, to be fair, Lisa did say, and I quote, “It might be bad for you, but we’ll just balance it with a healthy main.” 

syrup

Next, pineapple rings and glace cherries were pressed into the syrup, before we moved on to the cake mixture.

Caster sugar, flour, chunks of butter and baking powder were put into the blender along with a mixture of eggs, milk and vanilla essence. Pretty sure I got some eggshell in there somewhere. I don’t think anyone noticed.

Once all mixed together (a little lumpy, oops!) it was poured into the tray over the fruit and syrup, and placed into a 180 degree oven.

If you’d like a more accurate how to, you can download the recipe, and that for the lemon sole here.

lisacutting

I didn’t try making the lemon sole, but from memory it was reasonably simple. Definitely something I’d try in the future.lisafish

The Eating

After we’d all earned it, we were sat at the lovely seasonally decorated table for dinner.

spring

I had been a little apprehensive about the lemon sole. I’m quite uncertain with fish, and I hadn’t tried lemon sole (or fennel!) before. But it was delicious. It wasn’t a very fishy tasting fish, and the chunks of fennel were lovely. And I was overjoyed that it was served with broccoli on the side because I am OBSESSED with broccoli. There you go, a random fact about me!

fish

And of course the pineapple upside down cake was to die for, haha! And there was even enough to take some home.

dessert

The Tech

Of course we were using Hotpoint appliances – we were at the Hotpoint Design Centre after all! The star of the show was undoubtedly the Hotpoint OSD89EDE Openspace Oven.

Now I’m no chef (have I reinforced that point strongly enough yet?) but even I was impressed by this piece of kit – in this single oven you can cook at two different temperatures thanks to an insulating divider between its two compartments. Pretty handy, right?

I’m sure it’s no coincidence that the two recipes of the evening made the dual temperature feature necessary – they were perfect to show it off!

As a non home owner I’m not going to be in a position to buy an oven any time soon (and you know even if I did take out would win!) but if it were on the cards this would be a strong contender!

Regardless of my cooking ability, I’m very glad I went as this was one of the most enjoyable blogger events I’ve attended! We were very kindly given a copy of ‘Tea and Cake’ so, inspired by Lisa, I may even try my hand at some baking – watch this space!

You can have a read of the official blog post here.

L xx

All photos my own.

Yep, I skipped a week again! I think we can safely say I now do these little life updates as and when rather than every Sunday, because life just gets in the way! But at least I have plenty to report back on…

Valentines Gift from Kraken

Who needs a man to buy you flowers when one of your favourite alcohol brands sends you a beautiful black rose which would outdo anything else you received anyway? Following on from their black Christmas trees (which you can read about here), for Valentines Kraken were sending black roses with Kraken miniatures to select people. And I was one of the lucky recipients.

kraken black roses

This year I was single on Valentines Day for the first time in nine years. And I was cool with it. I’m actually loving single life right now. But that’s not really something to talk about on this post.

blackrose

So thank you Kraken, it was much appreciated!

Valentines Extreme Garnishing with The Robin Collective at The Hoxton

You may remember Extreme Garnishing from my pick of alternative Valentines events? I love playing with my food so I was super excited to be invited by The Robin Collective along to the Valentines edition of their workshop, held at The Hoxton in Shoreditch, which I seem to be visiting quite a bit at the moment!

extreme garnishing

We learnt some cute garnishing tricks, played with liquid nitrogen, made a love potion and ate cider sorbet. It was awesome. There will be a post dedicated to the event coming soon.

XMen Screening at BFI with BGo and Joe Blogs

I love a good superhero movie, so a private screening of XMen at BFI in Soho with some of my favourite bloggers, including Luisa of Eat Sleep Luisa Repeat, Kariss of Shy, Strange, Manic and Haydy of Squibbvicious was a great way to spend a Wednesday night.

bgo

Thanks for a lovely evening Joe Blogs and BGo!

Bring Me The Horizon at Electric Brixton

One thing I love about my favourite band is the frequency with which they play small venues (although it’s a pain getting tickets!). This time they played a Brits Week show at Electric Brixton, a venue I’ve not been to before. Through choice I went up to the balcony, and had a perfect view – so rare for me at a gig!

bmthheart

As always, their performance was spot on.

AntiChrist at Electrowerkz

I had a couple of great nights out this fortnight with my favourite girls, Luisa and Georgia. Here are some drunk selfies of the three of us at AntiChrist at Electrowerkz in Angel. I loved my blue wig!

ac

Gin Festival at Tobacco Dock

If you’re a reader of this blog, or are on any of my social media, there’s no way you’ll have escaped the fact that I was the guest blogger for Gin Festival!

gin festival

You can read my full post here, or the official post on the Gin Festival website here.

London Beer Week

Another day, another alcohol event… Drink Up London kindly gave me a couple of wristbands and a few drinks tokens for London Beer Week so on the opening night I visited the London Beer Week Hub.

london beer week

Held at Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, the hub was a really nice little set up! More about London Beer Week soon.

Pasta Night with House of Godo and Yelp

You should know by now that I’m pretty involved in the Yelp community, and attend a fair few of their events. This one was a Newbie night, to welcome new Yelpers, and sample some delicious pasta dishes at a new Italian takeaway on Park Lane, House of Godo.

house of godo

The company was excellent as always (and the lovely Kariss was there, which is always a plus!) and the food really exceeded my expectations. I’m not a person who ever really orders pasta when out, so it was nice to give it a go! The lamb ragu and tiramisu were especially good.

Thanks again Yelp!

Love Food Hate Waste Meaty Issues Launch at Smiths of Smithfield

I was really spoilt when it came to food and drink this fortnight! One of my most anticipated events for a while was this lunchtime launch at Smiths of Smithfield for the Love Food Hate Waste Meaty Issues campaign.

lfhw

As well as finding out about the campaign, we were treated to a delicious lunch and a butchery demonstration. You can read all about the event here.

Kurious Kittens Hot Sake Party at Geisha

And finally, myself, Luisa and Georgia attended the Kurious Kittens Hot Sake Party at Geisha, the late night element of members only dining destination Ramusake in South Kensington. We wore masks, Japanese inspired outfits and watched latex clad dancers. I’ve had worse nights.

geisha

And yep, I’m wearing a wig again!

So that was my rather busy fortnight, I’m hoping this one coming will be a little quieter…

L xx

All photos my own.

A few people have asked where the wigs are from – I always get mine from Mad World at Charing Cross station.

Recently, I’ve started thinking a lot about wastefulness, as well as how lucky I am to have the opportunities I receive through blogging, particularly when it comes to events and review meals I am invited to. It’s easy to just forget, and take these things for granted. So when I received an invitation to attend the launch event for the Love Food Hate Waste National campaign, Meaty Issues, the timing was perfect!

The event was held on the first floor Craft Market of Smiths of Smithfield. The Craft Market is actually a bar dedicated to craft beer and is a lovely open space while maintaining intimacy, perfect for an event like this.

sos

The Campaign

The focus of Meaty Issues is on beef – can you believe that, in a single year, UK households throw away 34,000 tonnes of beef, worth £260 million? That’s the equivalent to 300 million beef burgers or, for a really sad comparison, the equivalent weight of 47,222 actual cows. Now I did a little research into how much meat you can actually get from a cow, and I worked out that that’s the meat from approximately 150,440 cows. Crazy stuff.

I have some more stats for you;

  • 17% of those surveyed admitted to throwing away beef as it had passed its use by date.
  • 9% of those surveyed admitted to throwing away beef after leaving it uncovered or in an open packet.
  • 30% of those surveyed plan beef meals ahead of shopping for the meat.
  • 19% of those surveyed check how much beef they have at home before going shopping for more.
  • 20% of those surveyed picked spaghetti bolognese as their favourite beef dish, with a traditional roast beef dinner close behind, being the preference of 18%

lfhw

The purpose of the Meaty Issues campaign is to highlight this wastefulness, and to demonstrate how a lot of this waste can be avoided by taking little steps, encouraging people to get the best out of their beef. Meaty Issues wants to encourage people to prevent this where possible, by helping with understanding date labels, serving correct portions sizes, cooking with leftovers and planning meals ahead. This not only cuts down on overall wastefulness, but will help people save money and in turn have a positive impact on the environment.

The campaign is backed by Adam Henson – farmer and television presenter of shows including BBC’s Countryfile. Adam isn’t the only high profile face supporting Love Food Hate Waste – Great British Bake Off winner Nancy Birtwhistle was at the event, and had previously been involved in the Loafsaver campaign.

The Butchery

Now, you may remember my recent dabbling with veganism during Veganuary? I think it’s safe to say that I won’t be permanently changing my omnivorous diet anytime soon! But regardless of your stance on the meat industry, and eating animal products, I’m sure something we’ll agree on is that if we’re eating an animal, we should maximise our consumption from that single animal, and minimise waste.

meaty issues

That’s where the demo from Steve of Andrew James Butchery came in. While showing us all the different cuts that you could get from a cow, Steve explained that, nowadays, all the value of a cow is in the middle. There are so many unusual cuts from other parts of the animal which could be put to good use, but most people just don’t know to ask for them. If the general public start asking their butchers for these less common, and often cheaper, cuts, not only will we be wasting less of the cow, but helping the farming industry, as it would allow for a higher price per cow to be paid to the farmers.

The Food

During the butchery demonstration, we were treated to a selection of starters all using less utilised cuts of beef. On my plate I had Thai beef salad, beef ravioli and arancini with beef ragu. It was all delicious. I would never have guessed that the beef used was not from a part of the cow I’m used to eating.

meaty issues

The same applied to the sit down main course – braised heel of beef. We were shown the heel during the butchery demo, and it’s basically the beef version of a lamb shank (so much bigger!). It was similar in texture to a lamb shank really – I enjoyed it.

meaty issues

The Tips

Here are some of Love Food Hate Wastes tips for getting the best from beef;

  • Use leftover roast beef not only in sandwiches, but in cottage pies and soups, or shredded and used in stir fries.
  • Make beef portions go a bit further by adding chick peas, kidney beans, potatoes etc to Mexican and curry meals.
  • Check sell by dates so you know when your beef needs to be used by, and freeze if necessary.
  • Small portions freeze best and can be added from frozen to your dish (just check it’s piping hot before serving).
  • Use the resources on the Love Food Hate Waste site – such as the portion planner and the recipe finder to find ways to use smaller portions and cheaper cuts.

And a few tip for other meats;

  • Before roasting a chicken, cut off and freeze the wings – after three or four roasts you’ll have enough wings for another meal.
  • Freeze leftover sausage to make sausage rolls.
  • Freeze bacon by putting greaseproof paper between the rashers so you can use them individually from frozen.
  • Use marinades to boost the flavour of meat approaching its use by date or which has been in the freezer for a while. For chicken try soy sauce, honey and mustard. For beef try chilli flakes, ginger and coriander. For lamb try garlic, rosemary and lemon juice.

You can find more tips from Love Food Hate Waste for making the most of your meat here.

Love Food Hate Waste are running a competition here – they’re looking for tricks to make meat go further or leftover meat recipes, and you can win one of three slow cookers!

I won’t be entering because I’m not the greatest cook, but I will be putting more thought into my meat consumption for sure…

L xx

All photos my own.

Statistics in this post were published by WRAP in November 2013 and can be found here.

This weekend I attended my first Gin Festival – I was so happy to be their guest blogger as the event sold out pretty quickly! Held across three days at Tobacco Dock, this was the London edition of the touring festival, which started in 2012 as the brainchild of husband and wife team Jym and Marie Harris.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect from Gin Festival, as it isn’t entirely clear from the website, but I like gin (obviously!) so I was excited to give it a whirl! And I was very happy I did, because it was a very enjoyable, sociable and good value evening. It won’t be any surprise to readers of this blog that accompanying me was Luisa of Eat Sleep Luisa Repeat.

gin2

Pro tip: Get there early! The queue was long. But it wasn’t all bad, gin drinkers are my kind of people so I made friends in the queue! In fact, it was easy to make friends all over the event. And you will want to get there at the beginning of your session, as you’ll want plenty of time once you’re inside!

On entry, you receive a lovely little badge indicating which session you’re attending (so you can come and go as you please), a great big Gin Festival glass, ‘The Gin Book’ guide to the event (which is now my gin ‘to do list’!), an event map, an order form should you wish to purchase any gins you’ve sampled and a Gin Festival pen. I was pretty pleased with my loot before I’d even tried any gin!

gin1

Also at the ‘Welcome & Information’ room you can leave your coat in the cloakroom, have a photo taken with silly props, find out Masterclass timings and, most importantly, buy your drinks tokens!

So, how much does it cost?

Standard entry tickets for the London festival were priced at £10 and included entry only. Pricing apparantly varies based on location so check the website to find the cost of your nearest one.

Drinks tokens were priced at £5 each and sold in sets of four. One token could be redeemed for a 25ml measure of gin in The Gin Bar, or two tokens could be redeemed for a (rather large) cocktail in The Cocktail Bar.

The Brands

If taking the natural route around the festival, the first room you come to (and, in my opinion, the best!) showcases ‘The Brands’. Eleven brands were on hand to tell you about their gins, how best to serve them and give you a little taster. I didn’t anticipate having the opportunity to have proper conversations with the distillers, or to receive quite so many samples, or how generous those samples would be!

I found the mixture of brands really interesting, ranging from those even non-gin aficionados would know of, such as Sipsmith and Pinkster, to some more unusual ones including one of my favourite new discoveries, Whitley Neill. Here are my pick of my five favourites from the brand room;

Sipsmith

As a gin drinker, obviously I’m a fan of Sipsmith! One of my favourite little things about Sipsmith is Prudence. Prudence is a copper still built by Sipsmith when they launched in 2009. But what really makes her special is that she is the first copper still to be launched in London in nearly 200 years. Yep, TWO HUNDRED YEARS. Pretty impressive, right? You can read more about Prudence here.

I love a brand with personality, and Sipsmith have it in buckets. Everything on their stand was interesting, from the small batch sloe gin they were sampling, to the love it or hate it Marmite gin (seriously!). If you’re wondering, I loved the Marmite gin, haha!

gin14

Another interesting thing I discovered from Sipsmith at Gin Festival was that they have A Sipsmith Sipping Service on IndieGoGo! I’m quite interested in gin subscription boxes at the moment, and will be posting a bit more about them soon.

Whitley Neill

Whitley Neill was a brand new discovery for me at Gin Festival, and I think it was my favourite. I loved everything about their stand. It was interesting without being cluttered, the lovely ladies were friendly and informative, and the gin itself was delicious, and a little bit different.

gin12

Handcrafted in the UK by Johnny Neill (the eighth generation in a family of distillers!), but inspired by Africa, Whitley Neill gin uses rare African botanicals. It’s very smooth, with flavours of herbs, cocoa and candied lemon peel. It’s the most unique gin I’ve tried.

Masons

As well as the love it or hate it Sipsmith Marmite gin, other brands had specials they’d brought to Gin Festival. One of my favourites was Masons Gin Yorkshire Tea Edition, which you can purchase from the Gin Festival site for £40. I mean, what’s more British than a tea flavoured gin?

gin8

Masons are a gin I was aware of, but hadn’t previously tried. Their Dry Yorkshire Gin is a small batch (distilled in 200 litre batches) craft gin, traditionally distilled with Harrogate Spring Water, juniper (from their own juniper bushes!), citrus elements and secret botanicals. Each bottle bears its own bottle and batch number. Cute!

Adnams 

At Gin Festival, Adnams had a few gins to try. I’ve previously enjoyed drinking their First Rate Gin, but this was the first time I’ve sampled their Copper House Gin. After looking at the ingredients, it’s no surprise I liked it – it features hibiscus flower, which is a bit of an unusual one. Other ingredients include juniper berries, orris root, coriander seed, cardamom pod and sweet orange peel. It’s quite an unusual, rich, complex tasting gin. I think I’ll be buying a bottle.

gin16

I also got to try Copper House Gin in one of the cocktails Luisa had, the ‘Drunken Tulip’. It was good!

Portobello Road

Portobello Road Gin has been on my to try list for a while, so I was really happy to see them at Gin Festival. I’ve avoided purchasing it in the past as I was aware it contained liquorice root, which is not a flavour I usually enjoy. But the liquorice wasn’t at all strong tasting in the gin, and I actually really liked it! Other flavours include juniper, orris root, coriander seed, angelica root, lemon peel, orange peel, cassia bark and nutmeg.

gin13

I had a nice chat with the guy behind the stand, who told me about ‘The Ginstitute’. The Ginstitute is a little museum of gin – where visitors can sample the spirits as well as learn about the history of gin. It’s located, unsurprisingly, on Portobello Road in West London.

Fun fact: The Ginstitute is London’s second smallest museum!

The Cocktail Bar

Another favourite room of mine was ‘The Cocktail Bar’. A choice of six gin based (obviously!) cocktails, each redeemable for two tokens. There were also mocktails, which I didn’t try, because, well, gin…

Another pro tip: If you get the chance try the Rhubarb Rumble (Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb and Ginger Liqueur, Advocaat, apple juice, lemon juice and rhubarb bitters) – it tastes just like rhubarb and custard sweets. I liked it so much I went back for a second!

gin3

The Edinburgh Rhubarb and Ginger is definitely on my must buy list, at only £17, and it is DELICIOUS!

The Gin Bar

On the other side of the event space was the main area, where you’d find ‘The Gin’. It’s basically a big bar, divided into four – two bars for UK gins, one for international gins and one for fruit gin liqueurs and other novelties. You can redeem your drinks tokens here for a 25ml serving of gin, and there are bottles of various Fever-Tree mixers that you can free pour yourself.

gin4

It was a really nice set up – attendees could mingle over shared tables, making for a lovely, sociable atmosphere, and the live music was great in the background. With over 100 gins on offer, I was surprised how organised it was!

Masterclasses

If you had time between all that gin drinking, there were several masterclasses on offer – I went to the Pinkster one, where their representative spoke about the brand, their products and how best to drink them, and we were given plenty of tasters! Although my personal preference is to be out and about chatting to other attendees, it was nice to have a little break and sit down from the crowd, while learning something about a brand I like.

gin10

I may as well take this opportunity to tell you a bit about Pinkster (otherwise I’d have mentioned them as a favourite above!). Pinkster Gin is a pink, small batch dry gin made up of five botanicals, with a hint of raspberry (they hand steep locally grown raspberries in their triple distilled gin).

I’ve actually been a drinker of Pinkster for a while, having discovered the brand at a food fair quite some time ago. And I was really excited to see they now sell Boozy Berries (the raspberries left over from producing their gin).

gin11

The Off-Licence

Gin Festival also had its own on-site off-licence (with free home delivery!), where you could buy the gins you’d tried and liked.gin5

I’d recommend taking a look at the shop section of the Gin Festival site actually, as they have loads of gems on there!

They also had a selection of gifts (I liked the ‘Gin Festival In A Box’ idea – which includes my top pick Whitley Neill).

gin16

Gin Explorer

As well as being able to take your pick from the gins on offer at the off-licence, you could also sign up to Gin Explorer with a special Gin Festival discount.

ginexplorer

Gin Explorer is a new monthly subscription box, which includes a selection of 50ml gins. I can’t wait for my first box to arrive!

Anything else?

There were also artists painting on canvas, live music and a selfie booth (with an Instagram competition!).

gin6

On the lower level you could find street food stands (pretty necessary considering the amount of alcohol on offer!) from a new Tobacco Dock street food project – varying from hearty pies to healthy salads.

gin7

I went for the very moreish halloumi chips with salt, pomegranate, baby spinach and smoked paprika yogurt, which were £5 from Buttermilk.

gin9

And later I had lovely, fresh mixed salad from Vitality Shack, which was £8 for a pint tub.

gin15

Overall, I had a fantastic evening at Gin Festival, and it really exceeded my expectations. I had expected it to be just one big gin bar really, but they put on a nicely varied event – it managed to be nice and intimate with a focus on the gin, without it being one dimensional or boring.

I would recommend snapping up a ticket if they’re coming your way, as they seem to sell out pretty sharpish!

L xx

All photos my own.

The original (shorter!) version of this post can be found here on the Gin Festival website, as I was their guest blogger for the event.