Copper Rivet night at Forest Hill Gin Club

New brands are entering the burgeoning gin market all the time, but one of the newest is ‘Dockyard Gin’ made by Copper Rivet Distillery, that opened its doors less than four months ago in Chatham. Forest Hill Gin Club were lucky enough to get in early and three members of the Copper Rivet team came and presented to an assembled crowd that took over the All Inn One pub on Perry Vale.

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We arrived nice and early, as they were still setting up, and grabbed some food from the restaurant, currently being occupied by a residency from Sydenham’s award-winning French foodies ‘La Petite Bouchée’. Julia, Richard and their All Inn One team were their typical hospitable selves and the stage was set for another gin-infused evening where those of us seating at our corner table insisted to each other that we would not get too drunk, we all had highly important things to do in the morning, or, things anyway.

dockyard5The talk started with a brief surrounding the details of how the distillery had formed and the kitchen experiments that had turned into massive plans in a grade-two listed building at the side of the river Medway. Copper Rivet do things a little differently, partnering with local farmers to grow the right grains so they can make their own mash – in order that they can control not only the botanicals used to flavour the gin, but the taste of the ethanol used as well. We were given samples of both the vodka they produce and their alcohol base during the course of the evening and of course, a taster of the gin itself.

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The commitment to finding the right balance and the right taste was as clear as the liquids we imbibed, and their passion for gin was obvious. There was no marketing gimmick, no finding a way to produce a high margin gin at 40%; the investment has been in the attention to detail rather than the idea of making money and it shows. No need to go to a talk by Copper Rivet to unearth this information, just find a glass of Dockyard Gin and taste how wonderful it is. The ‘perfect serve’ comes in a highball rather than copa balon glass, with a slice of pink grapefruit, plenty of ice and bottle of fever tree tonic water. The connoisseurs among you might want to use a copa balon however – three or four large ice cubes and a splash of tonic is all you need to really make this wonderful gin zing.

Needless to say, my table of gin drinkers and their good intentions slid promptly down the slippery road to Friday morning hangover. Caz, who had two interviews the following day was the worst culprit, but at least Tom stayed sober long enough to take some of the photos that accompany this piece (thanks Tom!)

The distillery is open for you to visit, and a whisky is on its way… although of course with whisky you need to allow a few years, so don’t expect to be tasting that until at least 2020. But do go and see them in Chatham – they are nice people with wonderful gin (and a damn smooth vodka too!)

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Gin Club – nginious! Night

There are generally not many gin producers who make a range of four different gins and there are generally not many gin producers in Switzerland. But nginious! break both of those generalisations, and they also made the flight over to the UK to come to Forest Hill and present their range to gin club members in The Hill bar on Dartmouth Road.

Our nginious! host was the producer himself, Oliver Ullrich, a very smart, precise and calmly spoken individual who was full of interesting information about how his range of gins materialised from imagined ideas and discussions he’d been able to have with others in the drinks industry.

Oliver was most insistent that we taste the gins in the order that he presented them, starting with the Summer Gin, then the Swiss Blended, followed by the Cocchi and finally the Smoked & Salted. In the same way that you probably wouldn’t want to eat your pudding before your starter, or your stilton before you’ve uttered the words “I couldn’t eat another thing… ooh, cheese!”

The summer gin is fresh and light and easy to drink. Be warned, none of the nginious! gin’s are cheap, but this one has the additional benefit of being at lowest end of the scale. You do need a fairly neutral tonic water, “too much” Fever-Tree indian starts at about a 1:1 ratio, at which point the gin almost entirely drops out. A slice of peach and a basil leaf makes this very refreshing and a perfect summer drink.

The Swiss Gin is more robust, and perhaps the closest to a traditional gin on the nginious! menu, and a far bigger flavour than its summer cousin. A twist of grapefruit and you have a really fine gin and, for me, this is the point we leave gin behind and head off into the crazy sunset of ‘other’.

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‘Other’ is not necessarily a criticism, more of a warning. The remaining two stablemates are wonderful, the very idea of soaking your gin in vermouth barrels from piedmont is very splendid, this is no novelty idea, it is clever and it really works. The Cocchi, as they call it, stops short of being a Martini, but I suspect it would make a damn fine one. There were lots of details about the final soaking time and I have to confess at this point I was tucking into the salmon from the special menu they had laid on for us at The Hill, who really did bend over backwards to lay on excellent service for the evening.

Finally, nginious! Smoked & Salted gin was presented to us. We sipped neat and then with ice, and finally with tonic. It seemed the more we added, the less I got from it. I would treat Smoked & Salted as a fortified wine – it doesn’t need anything, least of all ice, just sip it and enjoy the complex flavours as they roll around your palate. There were also some delicious Smoked & Salted chocolate caramel brownies to end the night.

Apart from the fact I do not like having to type nginious! or say nginious! or explain nginious! after every time I say it, I like them very much, and their gins, and their packaging, which is a whole story in itself. The bottles are fabulous, and a new web site is apparently in the pipeline, and much needed as it does a dis-service to their otherwise excellent branding.

These gins are presented with confidence and panache, and the range of flavours is strong enough to make each one clearly distinctive. If you do get the opportunity to catch them at a gin tasting event then do, I would highly recommend it.

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Gin Club Opening Night Round-Up

Toby Asker-BrowneSaturday night was the first Forest Hill Gin Club Night, and I’d say it went rather well. This is a blog for reviewing things and as such, I’m hard pushed to review my own event without blowing my own trumpet, so I shall leave others to report on how good it was, and I’ll just stick to the facts.

Toby Asker-Browne, pictured above, came, brought some fantastic food from his catering company, Tablet Catering, and re-lived his past life as a cocktail shaker – preparing Raspberry Parkers; Gin Sours; Coffetinis; and a great Gin Fizz, while Charley and I prepared a range of G&Ts plus the occasional Negroni and Martini. We had 33 Gins and four different tonics, with a wide array of garnishes to suit.

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Just to prove that you never know what your best sellers are likely to be, we sold more Hoxton gin (of which I am not a fan) than anything else, followed by Williams Seville Orange and Williams GB, plus quite a lot of Silent Pool, Caorunn, Brighton and Martin Millers. Portobello Road with Pink Peppercorns was very popular as well, as was Adnams Copper House with Red Apple.

One of the fellow shop-keepers along Dartmouth Road in Forest Hill, Pauline from Sugar Mountain, “popped in” claiming that she didn’t like gin. So perhaps my biggest triumph of the night was converting this ‘wine only’ girl into an avid gin-lover who is already badgering me to get on with putting together the next gin night.

morebottlesToby gave a little talk on the history and origins of the drink we had all come to partake in, and, while I think I spent most of my night discussing gin, there were plenty of other conversations, from the dreaded brexit; to local affairs; the pros and cons of social media, and; how to turn empty bottles of fever-tree into table decorations for your wedding day.

Since the event I have had over forty people sign up to the gin club news, and follower numbers almost doubled on Twitter. I’d better get planning the next night, but in the meantime, thanks to Charley, Toby, Zoe and Chase, all of whom helped me make the opening night such a hit, and to The Gin Box Shop, who were our main source of gin, so expertly advised and safely delivered a couple of days before the event.

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half-consumed cocktails

 

 

Forest Hill Gin Club – Opening Event Details

With less than five days to go before Forest Hill Gin Club’s opening event, I thought I’d share some of the detail; firstly, and most importantly, tickets!

Tickets

Tickets are being sold in advance so we have some ideas of numbers for food (see below). We will be providing a buffet of free food on the night, as well as your first drink – so we are selling tickets in advance in order to make sure we have enough to go around! Online ticket sales end on Thursday – follow the link to avoid missing out – go to Eventbrite  – Tickets are also available at The Archie Parker is you would rather pay by folding money or coin of the realm!

Everyone buying a ticket will be signed up for FREE membership of the Gin Club, which means you get first refusal on future events and discounted offers. In the future a small membership fee will be charged.

On The Night – Gin

Toby Asker-Browne will be making cocktails on the night (see below), but we will also have a Gin & Tonic Menu. Prices have yet to be finalised, but there are currently 33 gins ready for you to taste, and this number may well rise by Saturday night.

The menu includes local gins, such as Jensen’s and Sipsmith; a range of English gins – Brokers; Williams Chase; Bulldog; Brighton; Silent Pool and Adnams to name but a few; international gins such as Gin Mare from Spain, Monkey 47 from Germany, Copperhead from Belgium and Hope on Hoskins from South Africa. Add to this some of the growing number of fantastic Scottish gins such as Crossbill, Rock Rose and The Botanist, and you can see that it is any gin lover’s dream. Plus we will have four different tonic waters and a range of garnishes to suit the individual style of each gin.

On The Night – Food

Tablet Catering will be providing a gin-based menu to compliment the evening – with an English / Colonial tapas type theme with gin-cured salmon, chicory leaf of coronation chicken; polenta cake with cashew pesto and artichoke and more.

On The Night – Cocktails

This is very much down to Toby, but we’ll certainly be having a range of cocktails including a Royal Gin Fizz, a Raspberry Parker and a Gin Sour.

 

Prices for drinks will start at £4 for gin (and range up over £10 for some of the best gin & tonics known to man!) although we will also have bottled beer and soft drinks available for those who are driving or have taken a wrong turn thinking this was the Forest Hill biscuit club (if that doesn’t exist, it should!)

I will update this post with more information as I get it….

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Forest Hill Gin Club – Opening Night Cocktail Event

Forest Hill Gin Club – Opening Event – Gin Cocktail Night

Forest Hill Gin Club will be hosting its first event, taking over The Archie Parker on Dartmouth Road for the night on Saturday July 16th for an evening of Cocktails, Gin & Tonic, and a menu designed to compliment an evening of gin drinking.

Toby Asker-Browne will be your host for the evening. Toby is managing director of Tablet Catering & Events Ltd and spent his formative years running cocktail bars and restaurants in the West End before moving into contract catering. Toby has provided catering, events and parties for major blue chip clients, government departments, and even parts of the Royal estate. Now some years later he has started Tablet with his wife Ruth to develop a quirky, niche catering and events company. Toby is very pleased to be given an opportunity to share some of his considerable cocktail experience with you, and offer an exploration of all things Gin. To accompany this liquid adventure Toby has also put together a Gin-spired menu of tasty morsels, and there will be lots of information presented along the way to encourage full appreciation of this quintessentially English of spirits!

There will be a full menu of Gin & Tonics with over 25 artisan, small batch and hand-crafted gins ranging from local distillers to some of the finest juniper based spirits from as far a field as Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Spain and South Africa, plus four quality tonics to match and a whole host of garnishes to compliment them perfectly.

Your ticket price of £15 gets you a drink on arrival and free food throughout the evening.

Tickets available at The Archie Parker (cash only) or online at Eventbrite

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The Archie Parker is situated at 55a Dartmouth Road, Forest Hill, SE23 on several bus routes and a three minute walk from Forest Hill Station on the overground line.

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