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Ideal tipples for these sunshine days
Though I am an addicted consumer of gin — well, it’s better than Wilkie Collins on laudanum about which I have been reading this week — I was obliged to miss out on a tutored tasting of one of my favourites, Hendrick’s, at the Oxford Literary Festival on Saturday.
This was on account of my attendance at a garden party organised by my friends at The Fishes in North Hinksey.
That’s right, a garden party — planned with some optimism by the pub bosses before there was any inkling of the heatwave in store. In the event, they had a garden full of people, lazing in brilliant sunshine, enjoying a live band, free prosecco and loads of barbecued food. My congratulations to Peach Pubs for their chutzpah — and generosity.
Hendrick’s has not been entirely absent from my life, however. Buckshee gin and tonics have been dished out to crowds in the Lit Fest’s main marquee — with the trademark slice of cucumber replacing lemon or lime — and the Green Room boasts a dapper young gentleman called Luke ladling out ‘Hendrick’s Summer Punch’, featuring (besides the obvious) lovage cordial, maraschino liqueur, lemon, elderflower cordial and cloudy apple juice. Every home should have one.
Meanwhile, the award-winning cocktail makers at Raoul’s in Walton Street have produced their own Lit Fest mix in the ‘Verdant Green Quencher’ (above), the name celebrating the hero of Cuthbert Bede’s 19th-century novel of Oxford student life. It’s made from Hendrick’s Gin, Aperol (a sort of weak Campari), fresh lemon juice, Fee Brothers Rhubarb bitters, pressed apple juice and quince jelly. I have not tried it yet, but will soon.
What I did sample this week, though, was Saffron Gin, which comes from the Dijon micro-distiller Gabriel Boudier. It is made to a colonial recipe, recently rediscovered. Besides its unusual orange colour, which I find oddly appealing, the gin has an intriguing flavour supplied by such botanicals as coriander and fennel.