Last week saw Don Giovanni’s team up with Three Rivers Gin to bring a night of Italian treats, washed down with some lovely G&T’s and enough knowledge of Gin to make Encarta 95 look like the back of a beer mat.
Gin is not a nice tasting drink. It’s bitter, it’s strong and there are flavours in there that you’d have to have the taste buds of a Dachshund with two noses. But if you pop it in a massive goblet full of ice and pour some tonic in there then the whole thing transforms into quite possibly the best drink ever made, a drink that is absolutely perfect for a Summer’s evening.
It was Friday when I found myself in Don Giovanni’s at the top of Oxford Road, coolly sipping on a fantastic G & T made using Manchester Three Rivers – the local city centre gin distillers who pride themselves on their bitter botanicals. Don Giovanni had kindly organised a Gin Tasting Event to celebrate their new Round the World Gin Menu.
I was expecting an evening of Gin Education, as well as a fair whack of food and plenty of the wet stuff and I wasn’t disappointed. Upon arrival the Private Room was packed – it was clearly a sold out event, and we got the night off to a start with Three River’s signature cocktail – a G & T garnished with gin-soaked apricots and rosemary – sold as the Manchester G&T on Don Giovanni’s new cocktail list.
After a short while, we took our seats and began the journey into Gin history. On the table were large vegetarian and meat antipasto platters which went perfectly well with the Gin, and provided a welcome bit of Italian flair to the proceedings. Oh and there was some divine homemade ciabatta there too – which now I’ve decided to stop eating bread in preparation for my holiday in two weeks – will probably keep me up at night remembering.
It was the responsibility of Sarah, the Sales Director of Three Rivers to then begin the gin-formation (sorry) which started as far back as William of Orange and came right up to the present day. One interesting bit of information I discovered, which I probably should have known considering the field of work I’m in, is that the surge in craft gin in recent years is down mostly to Sipsmith.
The company won a legal battle in 2009 for the right to produce gin in small quantities as opposed to a large industrial scale which opened the flood gates to the number of craft distilleries in the UK. Manchester alone has seen a large increase in the area including Manchester Gin and hosts of the night Three Rivers (who proclaimed proudly to be the only gin distillery in the city centre).
There was then talk of certain botanicals, their ‘Rolls Royce’ of a still called Angel and palettes which I couldn’t understand much because I’m not a very technical geezer and I was also enjoying my G&T too much. From my notes it says that Three Rivers botanicals feature oats and cherries to create a mid-palette sweetness – with the cherries getting pricked in order to release their full flavour.
The night came to a close with dessert, which were more Italian than Gino Ginelli and just as sweet. We were served cannolis with lemon and gin-infused cream stuffed with gin-soaked apricots and chocolates, as well as a divine panna cotta with an apricot gin syrup and edible flowers. The perfect way to end a great night.
Don Giovanni, Peter House, 1-2 Oxford St, Manchester M1 5AN
0161 228 2482