We talk to the man making gin from ingredients foraged in Sale Water Park
REMEMBER when gin only came in one flavour: gin flavour. The huge explosion in interest in this spirit, from distilling it, to infusing it, to mixing it, has shown just how versatile and intriguing this once-standard spirit can be.
But while every bar is stocked with several options of artisan gin nowadays, there aren't many which forage, distil, and infuse to make their own.
The team at Alston Bar & Beef have been making their own in-house gin since opening – and have developed some weird and wonderful flavours along the way.
From tangerine and chocolate gin, to linden blossom and chamomile gin, they're not afraid to experiment in the name of developing a new and unique flavour.
We spoke to Ant, gin extraordinaire at Alston Bar & Beef, to find out how their behind-the-bar distillery works, and to ask what's on the gin menu this week.
From tangerine and chocolate gin, to linden blossom and chamomile gin, they're not afraid to experiment.
Tell us how you make your in-house gins:
“We use a method called 'cold compounding'. We take a neutral grain spirit and infuse dehydrated juniper berries for two and a half days. We extract this infusion to leave our gin base. We then add quite literally anything we choose.”
Is this where the foraging comes in?
“We try to keep it local by working with a local forager over in Sale Water Park. Sometimes we do source ingredients from overseas that don't grow in England. Sustainability is always at the forefront of our minds so we use fruit peals to make citrus-style gins or marmalade gins. All gins go through a 'small batch tester' to begin with to get the flavour right.”
How do you decide which flavours to go for?
With the constant change in flavours we try to follow only one rule of thumb, which is that we create whatever we choose but keep within specific flavour categories: citrus, herbaceous, spicy peppery, fruity and floral.
Some of our most popular sellers that we try to repeat over and over are chilli and ginger; raspberry; cardamom, fennel and rosemary; and juniper.
So what's on the gin menu at the moment?
Right now, we have ready to sell, and currently compounding: juniper; caramelised pineapple;
raspberry; baked apple and biscuit; savoury kumquat, shallot and apricot; linden blossom and chamomile; five spice and chilli; tangerine and chocolate; mixed berry; and strawberry and raspberry.
Moving forward, we're creating our own 'Bloody Mary Gin' to work with a homemade salt and pepper bitters to be paired with Sunday roast dinners. Also with Christmas round the corner, you can expect to see Alston Christmas Gin.
Alston Bar & Beef is on Cathedral Street, underneath the Corn Exchange