Great gifts for my gorgeous fellow gin lovers

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A shelf full of Irish gin loveliness

 

There doesn’t seem to be a mention of gin on Facebook without at least one of my friends tagging me in it. Now, I do love my gin, though possibly don’t drink anywhere near as much as my reputation seems to suggest!

But gin lovers are being well catered for this Christmas, even without a bottle of the hard stuff being part of the gift. Here’s some of my favourites:

 

Adore Gin Christmas Card

 

Firstly, you’ll be needing a Christmas card for them. This hits the right note.

 

Making a gin putting in ice sweatshirt

 

If it’s cold outside, you’ll need wrapping up warm.

 

Don't come in if you haven't got gin

 

Want to make sure you only get the right kind of guests? Hang this one on the front door instead of the traditional wreath.

 

Anti Stress Remedy Gin Glass

 

Even the thought of guests stressing you out? You’ll need this anti stress remedy glass to serve your perfect gin and tonic in.

 

Gin and Tonic Tea

 

Too early for gin? Is it ever too early for gin? Anyway, gin and tonic tea with your toast anyone?

 

Gin & Lemon Jam

Talking of toast, how about upgrading your normal jam and switching to a Gin & Lemon jam?

 

Relationship status gin mug

 

And you’ll be needing a mug to serve your tea in, and possibly raise a smile or two.

Pickerings Gin Christmas Baubles

Now you’ll be ready to decorate the tree. Gin filled baubles are definitly my kind of thing. Though no one will notice if you replace it with water on the quiet.

 

Gin & Tonic Flavoured Lip Balm

A quick slick of gin and tonic lip balm and you’ll be ready to take on the day.

 

Gin Bunny Gym Bag

 

Time for a trip to the gin. Oh, sorry, that should say gym. But why give up the habit of a lifetime? But I do love this as a gym bag.

 

Drink more gin personalised apron

Time to cook dinner, so you’ll be needing a good apron. This one has my name all over it. Although it could have yours, as there’s a personalised element to it too.

 

Craft Gin & Tonic Hamper

 

So, maybe it’s time to actually get onto the good stuff. I really love Craved and this Craft Gin & Tonic Cocktail Kit is a winner with me. With London Dry Gin or Old Tom Gin, it comes with built in snacks. It’s a night in in a box.

 

Gin soy wax candle

 

Start the wind down, and get your gin and tonic candle lit. Few deep breaths in, and a gentle sip of that G&T you made earlier.

 

Gin hot water bottle cover

 

Now, fill up your hot water bottle (with water, not gin) and head off to bed, to dream dreams of days and nights ahead filled with good gin.

And if you need to find some other gin based ways to fill your day, then check out Gin School. Great way to spend a few hours.

Cheers!

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Exploring Irish gin

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I had a few nights in Dublin this week for work, though managed to pack in a good dinner and some good cocktails.

Which is not where I discovered Irish gins. No, that would have been killing time at Dublin airport, for much longer than expected thanks to a delay.

Sadly there were no tasters available, so no idea on where to start on these other than working from the visual appeal. Anyone help me out? Where would you start? I mean, I could go alphabetically but maybe you know different?

 

A shelf full of Irish gin loveliness

I really liked the look of these two in particular:

 

My choices of Irish gins

Now, maybe I’d like the Gunpowder Irish Gin as a starting point, given how much I liked the Yorkshire Gin infused with Yorkshire Tea. But then I’m fonder of Yorkshire Tea than gunpowder tea, but I’m still very fond of gin.

I would pick the Glendalough on looks alone, such a beautiful looking bottle. I also love the story behind the brand, with them having a different gin recipe for each season. This is the summer one, with aromas of green meadows apparently. I’d like the autumn one right now, with a mix of crab apple, blackberry and water mint.

Maybe there’s more to be explored? Given that many places that go onto make whisky start with gin, and the history of whisky in Ireland, then maybe there is a lot more to explore. Just so hard to decide on where to start.

Which would you pick?

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In case you missed news of the latest anti-ageing advance…

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Funnily enough, many friends sent this one to me straight away. Not sure what that says, they obviously think I need it.

What is it?

Gin.

Yes, you read it right, an anti-ageing gin.

 

Anti aGin - my kind of gin

 

I know, where do we sign up? Well, a good starting point is to be a guest at Bodelwyddan Castle, who have had this designed for them by the creative food duo at Bompass & Parr. Distilled with pure collagen, it also pulls on other botanticals renowned for their rejuvenating properties, such as witch-hazel and camomile.

What the heck, it can’t be any less effective than the anti-ageing juices I saw. Although I guess possibly combining the two could be good (I always said they would taste better with a slug of gin).

Currently Anti-AGin is available at all 13 Warner hotels, and Drinksupermarket.com. At £34.99 it’s cheaper than many potions and lotions. I’ve agreed that we should take a scientific approach to this and have a number of volunteers lined up already for a double blind test. Could be a good night!

 

 

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When is gin not a gin?

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Minus 33 Juniper Distilled SpiritO

 

Well, the answer is when it’s Minus 33 Juniper Distilled Spirit.

Now, if I remember anything from my night at Gin School, it was that juniper has to be dominant. But the finished product has also got to be of an ABV of above 37.5%.

So this beautiful looking bottle of spirit is pretty much gin in all but potency. But it makes up for it in taste, with 9 botanicals, including juniper but also lavender, elderflower, angelica and citrus. It’s very natural with no artificial flavours, preservatives or added sugar.

And should you be counting the calories, then this is perfect, as it comes in at only 46 calories per serving. You could add the Fevertree Low Calorie Tonic Water, which is only 15 calories for 100ml. Which I think you’ll find is significantly less than in 200g of kale.

I know which I’d prefer.

Brewed by Loca Lab, who are new, interesting and innovative, you can buy this directly from them or from someone like Master of Malt. I think I could add this into my cupboard. After all, it’s not as though it’s another bottle of gin.

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Is this the perfect gin for breakfast time?

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FEW Breakfast Gin

 

Continuing the gin love, I really like the sound of FEW Breakfast Gin. I’ve not come across FEW before, it’s a craft distillery in Illinois, turning out some very interesting sounding gins.

The Breakfast Gin is based around bergamot as a lead flavour, inspired by Earl Grey tea, and also apparently a love of the perfect French 75. To be honest, I don’t mind trying it in a French 75 or in a simple gin and tonic, I’d just like to try it.

I have got Heston’s Earl Grey and Lemon Gin, which is nice, but I always long for it to have a bigger punch of the Earl Grey and Lemon. It’s a cheaper alternative to the FEW one though.

 

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How to sneak gin into the office

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G & Tea Caddy Set - great tea gift for a food lover who loves their gin

 

I might have mentioned before that I like my gin. But apparently it’s socially unacceptable to drink gin before 6pm, and probably not ever in the office these days.

So I think this might be the ideal tea for days when a gin would go down really, really well.

The G and Tea from Post Tea is a green tea based mix, along with lime leaves, dried lemon and orange peel, juniper berries and a hint of natural juniper flavouring gives you just enough of the flavours to maybe fool your brain that it’s the real thing. It works hot or cold, so keep supplies to hand all year round.

All of Post Teas blends come from estates that operate under the Ethical Tea Partnership, ensuring a good deal for everyone. And if gin is not your thing, then there’s a mojito tea too. I think we might be ordering these in for a quick team taste test.

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Time for festive cocktails

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I love at cocktail at any time of year, and Christmas definitely is a great time for making a few, whether old classics or modern twists on them. Here’s a few things to inspire, to make the mixing fun and the serving beautiful.

 

Wild Drinks and Cocktails to really shake things up on the drinks front

 

I love this book, Wild Drinks and Cocktails, as an inspiration for cocktails that are a bit unusual, and not necessarily all about the alcohol. Something different might be very welcome for the drivers and others not partaking of the hard stuff. Great ideas like switchels, shrubs and tonics, most of which I’d never come across. Some great stories to tell as well as some great tastes.

 

Malika Grand Cocktail Glasses from LSA

 

A great cocktail deserves a beautiful glass to be served in. I love these Malika Grand glasses from LSA, stunningly beautiful to look at. How elegant are you going to feel sipping something from these?

 

Viski Cocktail Shaker

 

 

You need to start off well, and what could be better than a fabulous cocktail shaker? The Viski cocktail shaker will definitely be a talking point, and make you really feel the business. If you like your martini the same way as James Bond, then this is the shaker you need.

 

Make like a star with Cocktails of the Movies

 

Make like the stars and blend their favourites from their films with Cocktails of the Movies. I mean, everyone knows what Bond drinks (god, we even know what brands now given the over-commercialisation of the films) but these give you the champagne cup of the Grand Budapest Hotel (one of my favourite films of recent times, some fabulous cakes in it too), Marilyn’s Manhattan in Some Like it Hot or even Sweet Vermouth on the Rocks with a Twist from Groundhog Day. I guess if one of their favourite films is in there, you could get the film and everything for the cocktails for a really personal and memorable gift.

 

The Best Gin Cocktails You've Ever Made. Apparently.

 

There may have been one or two mentions this year of how much I like my gin. So gin cocktails feature highly in my request list. If you have a fellow gin lover to buy for then I love this cocktail box, entitled The Best Gin Cocktails You’ve Ever Made. Best to give this one a try, I know I’ve set the bar pretty high, but with Brokers London Gin and some interesting additions like Creme de Violette and Absinthe, then they could be in for a very good night!

 

Carry on Pocket Cocktail Kit

 

Perhaps they like cocktails so much they can’t bear to be parted from them? In which case the pocket cocktail set may be just up their street. It’s called a carry on kit, though I imagine these still have to go in your plastic bag through security, but the sizing is ok. And would still cost you less to mix a Moscow Mule or a Gin and Tonic than the average airline wants to charge!

Professional Bartenders Bag

If they’re really serious about their mixology, then how about a professional bartenders bag? All the tools of the trade for them to really look the business, and to be able to mix up just about anything, spirits permitting. They’ll be able to muddle, shake, stir and jig to their heart’s content.

 

All you really need after that is a good selection of spirits, mixers and some citrus fruit and garnishes, and a good night should be had by all.

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The best Advent Calendars for food and drink lovers

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I love how Advent calendars have really evolved over the last few years, and the grown ups have really been the ones to benefit. Here’s my favourites that you’ve still got time to order for this year:

24 days of gin

 

Ginvent - my perfect Advent Calendar. Twenty four days of fabulous gin

 

I know, I already wrote about this one. But it still sounds like my idea of heaven and the Ginvent calendar would be top of my list.

 

Get a brew on every day up to Christmas

 

Tea Advent Calendar - get the kettle on

 

I love my tea, and so don’t really need much encouragement to have a cup every day. But a cup of something different every day? That’ll keep it interesting in the run up to the big day.

 

Ale right on the night

 

Craft Beer Advent Calendar

 

Brewing of a different kind with this one, with a bottle of good craft beer behind every door. Although a bit like with the gin one, possibly not for consuming at the breakfast table!

 

A biscuit a day

Biscuiteers Advent Biscuit Tin

Probably doesn’t keep the doctor away, but when biscuits are this beautiful you’re going to feel great. I know Biscuiteers are not cheap, but they are lovely.

 

Sweet treats for this year and every year

 

A sweet treat a day for this year and every year from Fortnum & Mason

 

Whilst this might be expensive for year one, this beautiful wooden advent calendar from Fortnum & Mason can be refilled year after year. In fact Fortnum’s even sell a refill pack, but nothing to stop you doing it yourself in the future.

 

A drop of the pure stuff, every day

 

The Whisky Advent Calendar

If whisky is their thing, then this one is probably right up their street. I appreciate it’s not cheap, and maybe you could just give this as a Christmas gift and cheer up the 25 days that follow. Will make January feel a lot better!

 

Share and share alike

 

An advent calendar made especially for two

 

So,  you could take to views on this calendar from Hotel Chocolat. Either this is a lovely romantic calendar with two chocolates inside each door, one each for you and your loved one. Or it’s a great calendar for a greedy person. Your choice.

 

December is hurtling towards us at a rate of knots, so best to get organised, so that each morning in December it’s not just the kids who have something to look forward to.

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Six Christmas gifts for the competitive food lover

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Who is getting competitive on the food front? Great gifts for competitive food lovers

 

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be bringing you suggestions for Christmas gifts for different kinds of food lovers. Titles might be slightly tongue in cheek, but you might recognise some characteristics of those on your shopping list.

So, I’m starting with the competitive food lover. For them, it’s all about the bragging rights. Newest, biggest, dearest, weirdest…oh yes, somewhere tastiest might come into it too! It’s about ticking things off to show off what a great food lover they are. Here’s six that might do the trick:

 

Tefal Cuisine Companion and Eat Like a Londoner - perfect gifts for competitive food lovers

 

Tefal Cuisine Companion

So, this is gadget bragging rights, as this has been one of the gadgets of the year, and does practically everything except get the shopping in! It says it creates incredible meals at the touch of the button, making it sound like something out of Star Trek to me. It apparently chops, whips, mixes, kneads, cooks, steams, blends, stirs, emulsifies, whisks, sears, crushes, mills, sings, dances…oh, hold on, made the last bit up. But they’ll love showing off just what this can do.

 

Eat Like a Londoner

Oh, they’ll love this kind of book. Probably not really for ideas but for the satisfaction on Christmas Day of going through it and ticking off all the ones they’ve been to. It’s all about the stories they can tell, good or bad, about why they agree or not with those included. Maybe, just maybe, it’ll bring up one or two new ideas, in which case they might feel a bit miffed that they’ve not been there already!

 

The most expensive gin, and a perfect flask for carrying it around chilled to perfection - perfect gifts for a competitive food lover

Monkey47 Schwarzwald Gin

According to Forbes, Monkey47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin is the world’s most expensive gin. Possibly why even I haven’t tried it. Now, this is £37.95 at The Whisky Exchange, and is most definitely not the most expensive gin they carry. At £299, then there is a rare bottle of 1950s Gordon’s Dry Gin, but I’m not sure if you’d drink it.

But if we’re not talking an antique bottle, then maybe ignore Forbes, and try the Spring Gin Gentleman’s Cut, a snip at £77.45. Or you could just book them into Gin School, and they’d getting the bragging rights of their very own distilled gin.

 

Vinnebago Vacuum Flask

They’re probably going to have great wine, good tea and coffee, even brilliantly mixed cocktails. So, when they’re heading into the great outdoors, then not just any flask is going to do the trick. The Vinnebago is not just stylish in design, but will keeps cool for 25 hours. This apparently has 3 layers of insulation and is apparently unbeatable on the keeping cool or warm front.

Brindisa Iberico Bellota Ham - perfect gift for a competitive food lover

Iberico Bellota Ham

Now this is going to look impressive when people come round and they get to carve some of their own Iberico ham. I mean, this is the good stuff, a real treat, but they’ll love not only the story of how great this ranks in the world of great ingredients but the theatre of it. Brindisa would be my supplier of choice in the UK.

 

 

Al Fresco Lunch at The Three Chimneys

The Three Chimneys

I was thinking about an experience you could get them, as then there are stories to be told again. So I chose not just any Michelin starred venue but The Three Chimneys. There’d be the tale of getting there, of crossing the water to it, the beauty of its surroundings, and that’s before you even get to the food. And if you’re going for it, then book a night there as well, as the rooms look incredible too. Not cheap, so this would need to be a special gift for a special Christmas.

So, whatever you choose for them, think about the stories that their gift will enable them to tell. Hopefully not endlessly though. Buy yourself earplugs if that’s a risk.

 

Great photo by Jair Cabal on Flickr.

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How to get a cocktail through a letterbox

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I can think of so many people that this is the perfect gift for. Microbarbox.com delivers a bar in a box to your door, and they could do it every month if you liked.

 

Monthly Tasting Box of Cocktails from Microbarbox.com

 

Now, that’s one piece of post you wouldn’t mind receiving every month! A monthly subscription is £24 per month, and the contents change each month (though if you need to know these things there are always 8 units of alcohol in the box, plus mixers and recipes). There’s an offer on a first box at just £14.

If you just wanted to send this as a one off gift, then there are all kinds of options, like vodka or gin cocktails, or even a gin and tonic box (did I mention I like my gin?) There are birthday boxes and thank you boxes, and even boxes for chocoholics.

 

Gin and Tonic Box from MicroBarBox.com

 

And given that this is October, and therefore Breast Cancer Awareness month, then order the Pink Box and they will donate £2 to Cancer Research UK if you order in October.

 

Pink Box from MicroBarBox.com supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month

 

These are a bit of a fun, you could of course put them together to yourself but for a gift in a hurry or to send to a far flung friend, then these could be brilliant gifts. Cocktail recipes included, just in case the recipe for your favourite cocktail is not ingrained in your brain!

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