Friday 14th June - I don't really know where to start with this one, it's all a bit hazy. Ginstock is an annual event (fingers crossed) that started in 2012, run by the Tweat Up gang who organise fantastic one off foodie / drinkie days out including recently Taco Wars, Craft Beer Battle and Ribstock. This "summer", Tweat Up have been making use of Merchant Yard in Haggerston where the wonderful Street Feast is held every Friday. If you haven't been to Street Feast (read more here) then you only have this Friday and a closing party on Saturday left to experience it (and the awesome Gin Store bar upstairs). Street Feast is then effectively relocating to Wood Wharf under the name of Truck Stop which starts on the 4th July.
Anyway, I digress. Ginstock. I managed by some stroke of luck to win two free (usually £35) tickets through a competition that Barchick were running in association with Boodles Gin. List Leader Natalie managed to get a few regular tickets before it sold out, but there were others who still needed tickets that I was delighted to be able to bring along. I was informed that my prize also involved brunch for two with breakfast cocktails at 10.30 on the morning of Ginstock at Marcus Wareing's The Gilbert Scott, plus a taxi ride from there to Haggerston for kickoff at midday. I sadly couldn't take them up on that as I was ambitiously packing in a concert in the morning before heading over to Kingsland Road, but they told me to chat to the folks from Boodles and Gilbert Scott in the hope of rearranging. This was probably for the best anyway, as there was absolutely no need to have more cocktails than were already included with the Ginstock ticket!
|Milk and Honey, Perkin Reveller and Dishoom have so far evaded The List , and Megaro has just opened|
Team List (Natalie, Luke, Libby and Cassie) arrived first and had a good system going by the time I got there, saving seats and sending troops out in to the rain to battle through the crowds. Everyone was given a voting card which also acted as the stamp card for 10 gin based cocktails from the competing bars. I love an imperfect stamp system as it always leads to a few extra free drinks (remember Malt Jockey?). I was a couple of drinks behind schedule so had to really knuckle down. Every bar was vying for our attention with freebies and witty banter. Perkin Reveller gave out a tin containing all the ingredients of their cocktails so that it could be recreated at home. Powder Keg gave out a bottled version of their cocktail - "stick your middle finger up at Boris and neck this on the Overground". Free food and drink vouchers, badges, popcorn, sloe gin marshmallows, stickers, moustaches, bindis - you name it, we were bribed with it.
My camera was having a temperamental day so most of these photos are from the Perkin Reveller website - see more here.
|Teapots and jam from the Perkin Reveller team|
The voting cards had plenty of room for leaving comments so that you could make an informed decision 10 (or 15) cocktails later. The comments naturally became less pretentious and more honest / imcomprehensible as the afternoon wore on.
"Excellent presentation - fresh but a bit too floral"
"Red Bull / Worcestershire Sauce?"
"Went down easy - that's what she said"
"Deliciousness personified" - what does that mean?
My favourite - "Oh, no :( "
Respect to latecomers Victoria, who arrived at around 3 and powered through them very quickly, and Arwa who finally escaped from work near the 5pm closing deadline which was luckily extended to 6pm. The queues were a bit crazy towards the end but in general it was just the right amount of busy. It was great to taste the new Boodles and Opihr gins, and to meet the people behind the new Megaro bar that is opening soon in King's Cross. There was fantastic food on offer too. I devoured a "fatty, greasy, piggy wrap" from the wonderful Stripped Back stall run by Ben Spalding, and also later on tucked into some delicious Yum Buns. There were gin / botanical themed ice creams and lollies available from Sorbitium Ices and The Ice Kitchen but the weather didn't help them out too much.
|No idea who this is.|
|Time to vote!|
Eventually we got to the close of play and the votes were counted up. Our favourites were The Gilbert Scott, Dishoom and Megaro. The Gilbert Scott "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" was a delicious, drinkable CO2 charged concoction which we all finished in seconds. Dishoom made a wonderful orangey cocktail named after Vasant Dhoble, an Indian police officer who goes around Mumbai hitting people with a hockey stick for breaking alcohol based laws - the idea behind their breakfast cocktail was that it could pass as orange juice, and Dhoble hopefully wouldn't notice. Megaro were the last bar to be confirmed for Ginstock but did a fantastic job with their Sipsmith twist on a Tom Collins. The winner of Ginstock 2013 was finally announced and the trophy went to the team of Boodles and The Gilbert Scott. I managed to catch up briefly with Dav and the team earlier on in the day, and I'm delighted that they won. I look forward to hearing more about their Ginstock adventure when I collect the second half of my Barchick prize at their establishment.
|Kiss Kiss Bang Bang|
Our party split in two at this point. Some that were "ginned out" went to the excellent Fox pub and then on to Vietnamese food and The Book Club. I stayed put with Natalie and Arwa for the Gizzi Erskine after party lock in upstairs in the Gin Store. It took a while for the bar to warm up but we saved our seats early before everyone else made it upstairs. I spent the next hour playing poker and roulette in the casino earning tokens for more gin, with Arwa as a wing woman, whilst Natalie had a 7pm nap in the corner. My secondary aim in the casino was to find a pretty lady called Flora who I had met in passing. I wasn't very proactive sitting still at a poker table, but Arwa nearly had success by screaming "Does anyone know Flora?" in the queue for the women's toilets outside - there is no happy ending I'm afraid. I also had a brief conversation with another female gin fan, but that ended when she said "Ergh, Battersea? Why would you live there?" - charming. By 8pm we were totally shattered but we stuck it out for a couple more hours, surrounded by equally tired people and Gizzi Erskine's slightly terrifying Go Go Dancers who were being followed around by a cameraman.
|View of Kingsland Road from the Gin Store|
We eventually crawled on to an Overground train to that awful Battersea place, and had a quick spotify sing along before crashing out for most of the journey - the Powder Keg bottled cocktail was left for another day if you are reading, Boris. It was a hilarious, epic day filled with lovely people and awesome gin, and Ginstock 2014 has a lot of work to do to top this year. Huge thanks to Barchick for giving me the tickets, and congratulations to Team List for making it through the day - only counts as 1 point though! Don't forget to go to the last Street Feast this Friday or their closing party on Saturday,