Whether it’s the simple pleasure behind a good G&T or the national pride it’s able to rouse without the need for skinheads and the EDL, it seems we’ve never been crazier about gin – and yet often we find we know little more than the fact that it’s got something to do with juniper berries and that Hendrick’s tastes like cucumber.
Tapping into the nationwide gin buzz while also helping us get hands-on with the endless potential it possesses, The Gin Journey is a playful, interactive, educative gin trail that takes booze fans around Manchester in five drinks and venues, harnessing the best that the city has to boast in the botanical realm.
The innovation of Leon Dalloway – whose roots with Manchester run fairly deep, having previously worked its lively bar scene – The Gin Journey started life just a couple of years ago in the capital, where the abundance of exciting London distilleries like East London Liquor Co., plus a healthy revival of the gin parlour, proved ample ground for exploring.
The next step sees Dalloway bringing the Gin Journey to Manchester, with tickets now on sale for the first series of journeys running throughout February.
“The whole evening is about gin’s connection with Manchester and the Bridgewater Canal, as the canal was obviously the trade route for the eighteenth century, so lots of botanicals came through there. We’ll also be talking about the history of gin and the UK, along with the gin craze and resurgence of gin parlours.”
On the agenda you'll find Hawksmoor, Home Sweet Home at Great Northern, Gorilla, newcomer Cottonopolis and THAT middle floor bar over at Cane and Grain, with guests taken in style from joint to joint in the ‘Gin Carriage’ (a Merc minibus, no less).
“I think we have a really nice mix. We have got a specialist cocktail bar looking over the city with Manchester House, where we’re focusing on the Manchester Bee with a drink using a Manchester-inspired gin, Thomas Dakin.
“From there we go to Home Sweet Home to their private dining room, where we'll have a gin called Martin Miller's. Obviously the private dining room is a cool little secret, and as Martin Millers is all about romance and adventure, we’re going to theme a drink around that.
"Then we’re going to the gin parlour at Gorilla, where we’re going to do a G&T with Beefeater 24 and Fever Tree tonic, before moving onto Cottonopolis, where we’re doing a drink with Plymouth Gin and talking about the merchant trade and the botanical trade. And finally, we’re finishing in Cane and Grain, where we’re onto Sipsmith.”
Dalloway, the ‘Willy Wonka of Gin’, fell in love with talking about the world of gin when working at a distillery, meaning with him at the helm you can expect a history lesson with a heap of passion. And booze. Which, crucially, is what we're all here for.
Taking place every Wednesday between 3 Feburary and 29 June, tickets cost £40 per person - book yourself a spot here.
All photos by Gemma Parker Photography.