Allow me to introduce you to my NBF – his name is Hoxton, he’s unique, exotic and quite frankly surprisingly delicious. How did we meet? Well it was a hot Summer’s night in Wisborough Green and I’d decided that the exceptionally well stocked gin collection at my local, The Three Crowns, really needed some serious investigation. Because the truth is, that although I have a slightly alarming reputation as a gin-soaked housewife, I have always been a Gordon’s girl. A Gordon’s and Schweppes tonic was always enough to sooth my cares away and if I am honest, I had probably always assumed that all gins were pretty much the same.
Until, one fateful night last July when I was introduced to the magic of Bombay Sapphire. I confess, my head was turned. This was a whole new experience, and Mr Gordon seemed somewhat dowdy in comparison – although perfectly acceptable if that was all that was available don’t get me wrong! And then I am shown the wonders of Fever Tree tonic, including the Elderflower version, by my knowledgable and enthusiastic landlord, Tim, who also gives me a peek at his wondrous gin collection. Trendy looking bottles, funky and evocative sounding names – Geranium Gin, Sipsmith, Six O’Clock. An Aladdin’s cave waiting to be discovered.
So, accompanied by my trusty drinking mummas, we decided to use the excuse of my annual birthday festival to educate ourselves. And the Three Crowns really played the game. We had our own gin tasting menu with detailed descriptions of how, where, when, what and why and I began to understand that basically all gins are the same – a pure spirit at heart, laced and infused with any magical combination of ‘botanicals’ that one may care to desire or mention. Botanicals, you see, are the key. The traditional juniper berry has been ousted in favour of exotic combinations such as cardamom, coconut, coriander and nutmeg. And trust me, this is nothing like the flavoured vodka experience. This is far more subtle, and some would even say sophisticated. Although if you work your way through the entire gin list at the Three Crowns, your sophistication may leave you towards the end of the evening.
Our night started cautiously with a Monkey Gin – a tried and tested favourite with no quirky flavours, but shockingly and surprisingly German. Who knew Charlotte Roenchen my little gin drinking German! Infused with Indian spices and Black Forest herbs it offered a solid start to proceedings as one would expect. We then headed a little more off piste with an Aviation Gin – floral, American and drunk with soda! Even the barmaid thought that was hard core. And finally to the surprise of the night. What could possibly be worse than grapefruit and coconut at the heart of a beautiful and pure spirit such as gin – sacrilege surely. Malibu meets Mother’s ruin. But no, this is the work of a gin genius. Hoxton Gin is a delight. Refreshing, fruity and as the name would suggest developed in London’s trendiest part of town, so home grown to boot..almost. Well alright, it was invented by an Italian and is based on a spirit made of French Summer wheat, but British all the same.
So to my companions, Emily-I’ve-brought-a-gin-and-tonic-cake-too Cooper, Theresa-I’ll-make-sure-you-get-home-in-one-piece Baker, Cathy-mine’s-a-large-one-of-whatever Williams, Holly-first-night-on-the-lash-since-birth-of-4-week-old-baby-and-my-husband-won’t-stop-ringing-me-to-tell-me-the-baby’s-screaming Appleton, Annabel-Jack-Daniels-Diet-Coke-no-Ice McQuillan and Nicki-I’m-driving-because-I-know-I-have-no-self-restraint Hewitt, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your company, companionship, presents and for joining me on a journey of Gin discovery! This is only the beginning. According to my new Complete Guide to Gin & Tonic, we’ve got about another 300 to go! Cheers to that.