Our preemptive visit gave me chance to examine the gin bar, chat to the guys and sample a cocktail or two, and when the time came around for Susie’s event, I could speedily snaffle a spot at the bar.
Front and centre.
Way back in March, I was lucky enough to help out at the launch of Forest Gin, at RedWillow in Macclesfield. Since then the husband and wife team behind Forest, Karl and Lindsay, along daughter Hattie, have been almost overwhelmed by the interest. When not producing as much of their craft gin as possible, they’re working with Susie as their brand ambassador, creating cocktails for their gin and holding events.
Forest Gin is one of the only craft gins produced in the north west. While we have larger batch gins produced by, or in collaboration with companies such as G&J Greenalls in Warrington, we only have three craft gins in total, Forest being one. The second is Batch Gin, based in Burnley and the final one (currently at least) is Liverpool Gin. These are produced mostly by hand, on small scales.
Forest Gin, has an extra element or two to make it a little more local. The majority of the botanicals used in its creation are sourced from Macclesfield Forest and it’s water too is sourced from a spring in the Peak District. You could say it’s a local gin for local people, but since it has been picked up by Harvey Nichols, one of the places it’s been flying off the shelves fastest has been Knightsbridge!
Susie had created a number of cocktails for us to try this evening, but first up was a classic gin and tonic – the perfect serve gin and tonic – with a mango and rosemary garnish which enhances the flavours already present in the gin. Forest Gin has a number of layers that play on the palate. Away from the juniper that first hits the nose, there’s a fruitiness that comes from the foraged fruits, an earthiness that comes from the moss used as a botanical and delicious floral, almost herbal notes, the sit at the roof of the mouth.
While we sampled this gin and tonic appetiser, Susie went on to create her first cocktail of the evening, the Root to Gin.
Root to Gin uses blackberry liqueur, apple juice, lime, celery bitters and beetroot, not only for the beautiful colour, but to enhance the earthy flavours in the gin. The cocktail has a hint of sweet earthiness, and almost vegetal fruitiness that make it very drinkable.
The second cocktail of the night was the one I’d seen hinted at on Instagram and I was most excited about. The Forest Bramble. Forest Gin is mixed with lemon and rosewater, much as in a Bramble cocktail, and then drizzled with hibiscus liqueur.
And garnished with a Troll Doll.
Like a Bramble, it’s light and sweet, but the lemon sharpens it, making it a floral refreshing drink with hints of pomegranate and raspberry.
I may have also taken extra Trolls home.
No, you’re the grown up.
Our third cocktail was the White Truffle Martini. The truffle was kept quite soft, making it delightfully moreish.
And it was while we sampled this beauty that the nibbles from Luke’s Eating House appeared, including an incredible pulled beef with truffle oil. It was heavenly and couldn’t have been timed better.
Even the Trolls approved.
Sadly, the time soon came for our final cocktail from Susie. And this was the Forest Walk. Based on a Clover Club, this was made with Forest Gin, raspberries, dry vermouth, nettle syrup, lemon juice, egg white and vanilla bitters.
Whereas a Clover Club has an acidity that hits the back of the mouth and makes your mouth tingle, this was the opposite, soft, round and gentle, with lots of floral flavours, it was lovely. And a great finish to the evening.
But we had one more treat to go.
One of the darling chaps behind the bar had also created a cocktail with Forest Gin, with a passion fruit base. Fruity, sweet, the rosemary garnish balanced it a little, making it another addition to the Forest Gin cocktail list.
This visit to Chester was short and sweet, and I soon found myself settled on the long train home. But given the Gin Rickey’s bar (and the food upstairs in Luke’s), the places I’ve visited so far, and the little snippets I’m hearing of other gems, it won’t be the last.
Who’s coming with me?