When the idea of a night out on a canal boat drinking gin cocktails was mooted, I had some flashbacks of a 6th Form canal boat holiday I went on in 1992. It was an eventful week in which hearts were broken, canal boats smashed into bridges and double denim was the fashion du jour. Thankfully none of the above happened at Gincident 2014. Thankfully.
We boarded the good ship L.S. Lowry at Castlefield and chugged our way to Media City and back. We enjoyed the splendid views of Salford Quays, the photographic highlight being Blue Peter studios. It was sadly, a grey and drizzly evening, but that didn’t dampen our spirits.
Hosted by head liquorist Tom; we weighed anchor clutching probably my favourite drink of the evening, for I am a girl of simple tastes, a gin and tonic. This being a Liquorists Gincident, it wasn’t a bog standard G&T; made with Scottish Caorunn Gin, fevertree elderflower tonic and garnished with slices of red apple, it was wonderfully refreshing and an all round big hit. Caorunn is made from a blend of six traditional gin botanicals and five Celtic botanicals which were only enhanced by mixing it with elderflower tonic and sliced red apple.
Next up, while the barge approached Pomona lock, (famous for linking the Bridgewater Canal to the Manchester Ship Canal and the River Irwell) we sipped a twist on the Pegu Club; made with Opihr Gin, apricot brandy, fresh lime, bitters and orange bitters, this split the group. It was perhaps too strongly flavoured for us and our little table decided it would be much more drinkable if it was watered down, perhaps with prosecco. It was very orangey and a fellow gin-cruiser suggested it tasted like a Christmas pomander. In the end we agreed it probably needed to be drunk in front of a roaring fire in the winter and not on a barge in the summer.
We were then treated to some Thai food from local street food purveyors The Holy Basil; being veggie I had the Som Tam salad made from shredded turnip, with green beans, tomato and a heady hit of chilli heat, followed by an excellent veggie Penang curry with fragrant sticky rice. Served in boxes it didn’t look fantastic, but it tasted so good I’ve thought of little else since.
With the Thai food we drank a “Blue in Bloom”, made from Bloom Gin, blue curaçao, egg white and some other stuff (by this point I was losing my focus a little and busy eating curry). This was a real hit for me, it was refreshing and the perfect cooling foil for my spicy Thai meal. I’ve not drunk anything that blue and beautifully boozy since my uni days. Blue drinks make you smile. Fact.
After dinner (in a box) we met Alex Jones, the brand ambassador for Miller’s Gin who gave us a quick introduction to Martin Miller’s Gin. We then tried said gin in a cocktail called (wait for it) Message Gin A Bottle. Served in a blue bottle, (not unlike something the Body Shop sell shampoo in), this was packed full of fresh Sicilian lemon juice and an undercurrent of crème de violette, it was a twist on the classic Aviator but it was a little on the too sour side for me.
Next up was the Savannah Collins, made with Whitley Neill Gin and Rooibos iced tea, this was another opinion splitter, some loved it, some loathed it. Initially I wasn’t keen, the Rooibos wasn’t doing it for me, but a few sips in I changed my mind, it was light and refreshing after some of the sturdier flavoured cocktails we’d had earlier. I’d happily try and recreate this at home, perhaps using a tea I get on a bit better with.
Lastly (thankfully, as the barge was beginning to feel a bit wonky), was the Abbey Martini, made with Tanqueray 10, fresh orange juice and Martini Rosso, this was very orangey, my companions enjoyed it, I was less keen, but Tom, our affable host did say this is a cocktail which will split the room (or barge) and it did.
We returned to Castlefield and did what any good sailor does best, we hopped on a minibus to The Liquorists HQ in Redbank and had another excellent G&T. That is what all good sailors do isn’t it? It had been a most enjoyable evening, we loved, really loved the cruise, we tried a real mix of cocktails, made some new friends and got to sail past the Blue Peter studio.
Disclaimer: I was the plus one of another blogger, so my ticket was free of charge, but that doesn’t sway my opinions either way.