Dining Distilled was born from a mutual love of food and spirits in the form of a spectacular night of feasting and drinking. The idea for us at Native Feasts was to take inspiration from the process of distillation, the ingredients in TOAD’s gin and their general wizardry.

Both parties wanted to create a holistic, collaborative dining experience unlike anything Oxford had seen.

The collaborative aspect grew as meetings took place, ideas were generated and both parties took inspiration from myriad sources.

Before our first practice run of a feast, the 24 guests gathered in TOAD’s laboratory for arrival drinks. Team TOAD mixed and shook aperitifs including their G&Ts (naturally), negronis, white negronis, martinis and a few manhattans to boot. We at Native kicked off the night with a snack of G&T cured smoked Scottish salmon blini.

Then we moved into the distillery and the feasters took their places on a long communal table, the paraphernalia of TOAD’s distillation all around, one of which was a special gin to be used in the dessert course.

Chris from Native Feasts took inspiration from the botanicals used in the Oxford Dry Gin: cubeb, an Indonesian pepper was to become the central spice for a dish of panéd cubeb pork shoulder, sauerkraut and ras-el-hanout, served with a side of purple sprouting broccoli, soy and pomegranate. The gin itself was used in another delicate dish of winter citrus and gin cured sea bream ceviche.

The feast wound its way through eight dishes, all inspired by, or utilising, some of TOAD’s ingredients and processes. We cured our own Chiltern’s venison into a bresaola, spiced with a selection of botanicals and served with wild rocket, Wensleydale and blood orange.

The success of our feasts is gauged by the laughter, new friends and the general volume of conversation by the time we reach pudding. It may be to do with the volume of gin consumed but we could barely hear the music by the time we had served the botanical spiced churros with rhubarb and custard and TOAD’s pairing of The Bends, a one off cocktail made with a gin crafted solely for Dining Distilled.

If you missed it, TOAD and Native Feasts have plans for collaborative events on June 2. We are holding our first ever pop-up party at The (awesome) Oxford Artisan Distillery, AKA TOAD which is set at the top of Oxford’s South Park. Expect live music, a TOAD cocktail bar, Native toasties and charcuterie/cheese boards, homemade ice cream, craft beer and artisan wine. A late afternoon start means that we can soak up the June sunshine under the trees and party in the threshing barn until dark.

A new Tapas Social night is also planned for Tuesday June 13.

nativefeasts.co.uk or spiritoftoad.com