Mother’s Ruin. (The Botanist’s Gin Masterclass)

This week, I was lucky enough to be invited along to a Blogger’s Gin Masterclass at the Botanist in Leeds. I’ve always loved the Botanist, a great place to stop for a cocktail and a bite to eat while shopping or as part of a ‘Cocktail Tour’. The one in Leeds city centre is below the Trinity Centre on Boar Street, it’s quite hidden, I’d been visiting Leeds a while before I found it, but that doesn’t stop it filling to the brim on a weekend evening! The Botanist has such a good reputation for great cocktails, gorgeous branding and decor and good looking bar men in braces throwing bottles between each other really coolly. So safe to say I was really excited to be invited to try their Gin Masterclass!

I have to admit, although I love Gin my Gin repertoire is quite small. I know Edinburgh Gin quite well, after lasts month’s tour and tasting at their distillery, and we do have a fair few different ones on our bookcase (A lot of Edinburgh Gin, Masons, The Lakes Gin, Bombay Sapphire) but when these are with a tonic I find it hard to tell the difference! Gin is Gin right?! We do have two flavoured Gins, Opihr (Oriental Spiced) and Ginger Ninja Gin I picked up at a farmers market which is lovely with Ginger Beer. But that’s all I’ve got so far on the Gin front. I’ve always been keen to try new ones, when in a bar I’m always tempted by all the interesting looking bottles but then just bottle it and ask for a house gin- partly because of the fear of pronouncing the name wrong I think I’m showing I’m clueless! I am still a newcomer to the Gin scene. I avoided it for years after my Mum told me it made her so angry she once through her engagement ring at my Dad in a club and he had to crawl around on the floor to find it. But luckily, so far, it hasn’t had that effect on me! But anyway, the Gin Masterclass at the Botanist was a brilliant way to try new Gin’s without feeling awkward and just looking for the prettiest bottles! I definitely have new favourites now and will avoid the panic and asking for a house gin!

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The Gin masters (?) were fab and gave us a brief history of gin and how it is made while we sipped on the Botanist’s signature cocktail. And then we got tasting, we were given a shot of each gin first to try straight before trying it mixed with a tonic.

The first Gin we tried was Tanqueray, I am quite sure I’ve had this as a house gin before, this is probably what I’m thinking of when I think of a standard Gin. Is good with a tonic, tastes nice, and gives you the nice warm feeling you want from Gin! (not the feeling it gives my Mum!) Next, we tried Thomas Dakin Gin. One I’d never heard of before but it has been made in Manchester since the 1700’s (not always to the recipe that’s used today!).  I think this is the first gin I’ve ever tried straight that’s made me genuinely saying ‘Oooo’ rather than grimace and reach for the tonic. I could drink this on the rocks no problem. It’s lovely and zesty and fresh with notes of horseradish, really refreshing! We then tried Langley 8. I’ve definitely seen this one before but think this was my first time trying it. From a bit of reading I’ve been doing since I learnt it’s branded as a ‘Male’ Gin. I’m feeling a bit guilty I don’t remember much about this one, but I definitely don’t remember it being awful either. Soo..lets just say it was nice. Next came Brockmans, I loved this one! The bottle is sexy, it tastes so smooth, another one I think I could just drink on the rocks. Although I have heard it’s lovely with Ginger beer! We then had Gin Mare. This is one I’ve really never heard of this one before but was by far my favourite! We had it has a perfect serve with olives and rosemary and it was sooo goood! The best gin I’ve had and can’t wait to have it again! I’ve heard you can buy it in Marks and Spencers (another subtle accidental M and S plug!) so I’ll be off there to treat myself shortly! We also got the chance to taste two different Gin martinis using different gins and garnishes. Gin with grapefruit is now one of my new favourites! The masterclass also included yummy nibbles from the Botanist menu to help soak up some of the Gin!

So there we go, that was a bit of brief one, hope I got the point across and inspired you with some new gins, or for presents for gin lovers or to book a Botanist Gin Masterclass for you and your friends! The masterclasses can be done at selected Botanist’s and a booking enquiry can be sent through the website, I would definitely recommend for a really fun and tipsy evening and to open up new gin doors!

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So, I’ve got this thing with Saltaire.

It’s bloody typical that I’ve travelled around America, Australia, New Zealand and Italy and the place I feel most at home is a small little suburb of Bradford made up of terraced houses and an old Mill, but that’s how it is. Saltaire is my happy place. I must have been a mill worker there in a previous life, or even Mrs Titus Salt.

Cue a little history lesson. Saltaire  was built by Titus Salt in 1851, he was one of the leaders of the Yorkshire textile industry. He built the huge mill and the village around it to house the workers. The village was pretty fancy for its day and workers were pretty lucky to be working and living in Saltaire rather than in a Bradford slum. There were wash houses, a hospital and a school and a rather fancy town hall which now houses great craft fairs.

The mill has now been converted into shops, an art gallery and a really good diner. It is quite literally heaven.

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The first shop is full of sophisticated picture books that you convince yourself you need for your coffee table and also art books and supplies. Every time I go I end up feeling annoyed with myself that I don’t sketch and paint and way too easily get absorbed into taking on new hobbies. On our most recent visit we left with a book on calligraphy and all the pens and ink and paper needed to get started. We spent a whole evening doing it once we got home, Max of course is ridiculously good at it, while I might be a little too left handed for it. I am feeling quite competitive about it though so won’t give up trying. I want to atleast be able to write ‘Merry Christmas’ in fancy writing by the end of the year.

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On the next floor there’s the book shop of dreams! Ooo it’s good! Could spend a full day and a months wages in there. There’s books on everything and special edition of books and the most amazing children’s book section. I do love children’s books there’s something so magic about them and I love buying meaningful children’s books for people as gifts. The interior design section and the cookery book sections are also amazing!

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Theres also the diner on this floor where the food is fab, would be rude to visit Salt’s Mill and not eat lunch there, really good pizzas, and salads and cakes.

image(Beetroot, Butternut Squash and Goat’s cheese pizza, literally all my favourite things together. And a really good beer from the Saltaire brewery).

Theres also a home shop on this floor, a really edgy one, full of stuff you’re not sure where it would go or what you’d do with that but stuff you just really really want. I bought a match box with a dove on last time we went. Did I need it? No. Did I think I needed it? Yes.

They have a great selection of mugs, candles and soaps in this shop too which anyone who knows me knows are my favourite things. They also have a cabinet full of crockery antiques and we were really chuffed to see our tea and coffee jars in there. Our little charity shop find would be worth a fortune if we ever wanted to part with them (except my mum did some really dodgy wood staining on their lids).

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There’s a full antiques shop here too which is literally just like acorn antiques. I don’t have any photos of it because there was a no photos sign and Max has NO flexibility to rules. I think the antiques shop might be my favourite bit though, full of stuff you’d never actually want in your house but you really want to look at and touch. Last time we went I was very bemused about the Cath Kidston luggage tag being in there, I have one of them, which I remember getting for my birthday, I must be old!

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The top floor is the art gallery which has a permanent David Hockney exhibition of pictures of Yorkshire he’s drawn on his iPad. I’m far from an art expert but I like them. We even have a copy of one on our living room wall. They’re really impressive, all I really do on my iPad is play FarmVille and Internet shop.

So there we go, I hope I’ve sold it to you and you’re planning a trip. It’s the perfect rainy day out and I particularly recommend going in the weeks before Christmas, it’s so festive and lovely!

And I’ll keep on holding out for Max buying me my Saltaire terrace house. (subtle hint).

Katie x

 

 

 

 

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