Gin Fest at The Botanist

On Wednesday, The Botanist in Birmingham held a Gin Fest, as part of Ginuary – a January celebration of the wonder that is gin. I was lucky enough to be invited along to enjoy dinner and to sample some gins (which, of course, I could never refuse) and I had THE BEST time.

I had never been to The Botanist before but I will definitely be returning; the restaurant itself is gorgeous, even the plates were beautiful, the food was amazing and Jade, our waitress, was wonderful. Can you tell that we thoroughly enjoyed the whole evening?

It wouldn’t be Ginuary without a good old gin and tonic.

We started with drinks: an elderflower and lemon bellini for me (devine), an apricot and rosemary bellini for one of my friends and gin and tonic for the other. We handed each drink around so everyone got a taste and I have to say, it would be very easy to get very drunk at The Botanist because they really know how to make some good cocktails!

We decided to go for two starters to share between the three of us: the baked camembert and a homemade hummus board. I’m only showing you the pretty ‘before’ pictures here but I can assure you that both boards were practically licked clean, these were so good! I’d never had camembert with these kinds of cheesy breadcrumbs on top but I am definitely a fan, and I am already wondering about how I could pull this off at home.

I would especially recommend going for these types of starters if you’re sharing with friends, because there’s just something great about having a good old chat over some finger food.

For our main courses we each went for something different. After seeing one of these hanging kebabs on another table I couldn’t resist (I mean, just look at how cute it is?!) and I definitely didn’t regret it one bit. This is the chicken hanging kebab with sweet potato fries and it was fab, the pot of garlic oil that you could pour over the kebab just added something a bit extra to the whole dish and I loved it.

The sweet potato fries were also, quite possibly, the best I’ve ever had which is really saying something!

My housemate Hannah also went for the sweet potato fries, and she agrees that they were pretty damn good. Along with these, Hannah ordered the BBQ pulled pork burger, a seriously yummy classic!

Our friend Sarah went for something really different, which I wasn’t sure that I liked the sound of but which actually tasted amazing: sweet potato and spiced lentil pie with mash and curry sauce. Every single one of our plates (or bowl and hook in my case) were completely empty when our waitress came to take them away, which speaks volumes. The food at The Botanist is fantastic!

We all thought that maybe we were too full for dessert, then Hannah and I saw sticky toffee pudding on the menu and changed our minds. This was obviously an evening of ‘best evers’ because, I kid you not, this was the best sticky toffee pudding EVER. Light, sweet, fluffy, HEAVENLY. 

After our meal we headed down to The Plant Rooms, a cool little downstairs room where Gin Fest was being held. The room was lined with several different brands (some of whom I’d never even heard of), ready to give us a talk and tasting about the gin that they produced.

Although we did have a good walk around, we were very conscious of the fact that a sample of every  gin on offer, from every brand, would leave us pretty drunk. So, we picked the three that we thought looked most interesting and got stuck in.

First up was William’s Gin. We had a lovely chat with the girls there and they told us that everything about their gin is made on their farm, from the gin itself to the labels on the bottles that it’s stored in. I thought that was pretty cool. 

Now, I’m personally not a huge fan of neat spirits (I’m a wuss, I know), so I tried most of these gins with tonic water, which I know doesn’t give you a totally full flavour. Hannah and Sarah, on the other hand, went straight for the shots and tell me that William’s gin is pretty damn good!

Next up was Sipsmith, a personal favourite of mine and a gin that is always in our cupboard at home (Sipsmith is my Mum’s favourite too, but I think that’s mainly due to the pretty packaging!). I never realised that Sipsmith made a vodka as well as their gins, we got to try this too and I really liked it. You can definitely taste the difference between this and the cheap stuff I usually end up with as a student!

Out of all the Sipsmith gins, the sloe gin was my favourite. Like I mentioned, I’m not the biggest fan of neat spirits and so this sweet, not-neat-gin-tasting gin was right up my street. This stand was also offering hot mulled gin, with lots of berries and fruits and that was an absolute dream.

Our last stop was Masons, who had their traditional dry gin, a lavender flavour and a tea flavour, which smelt exactly like Yorkshire tea. My favourite thing about the Masons gin was that we were encouraged to try it on its own first, then try it after we’d smelt and tasted a dehydrated orange slice – the difference was amazing! 

Dinner at The Botanist was one of the best meals out I’ve had in a long long time, and Gin Fest really was the icing on the cake. We all had such a fabulous evening and I will definitely be going back soon, I can’t wait to try the rest of the menu, especially if it’s as good as the dishes we’ve already tried!

If you’re local to Birmingham, or even if you’re just visiting for a day, I couldn’t recommend The Botanist more. I have my fingers tightly crossed that they’ll organise another Gin Fest soon, too, because it was great fun!

Haze x

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