The Brighton and Hove Food and Drink Festival’s second annual outing of the year begins next week. Festival director Nick Mosley reveals why we’ll be toasting its success with Sussex gin.

BACK in the May food festival we had a lot of fun with the city’s premium bars and restaurants promoting Brighton Cocktail Week. This time though, is the turn of the UK’s favourite spirit and the first ever Sussex Gin Week.

Gin has firmly established itself as the country’s top tipple when it comes to liquor, having knocked vodka to second place in terms of volume a few years back. Unlike whisky it appeals equally to men and woman, and unlike vodka it is drunk by young and old alike.

Whilst you’ll obviously always find juniper there, it holds many botanical flavours well meaning it opens the door to a lot of creative potential in the distillation and compounding process. You could say it’s a universal drink.

Sussex Gin Week is sponsored by two of the county’s best craft producers, Blackdown Artisan Spirits near Petworth and Brighton’s Regency Tonic. More than 20 venues – including the Ginger Pig, Etch, Drakes, Hotel du Vin, Merkaba, Market, Fourth and Church and many more – are each offering three gin and tonics or gin cocktails at a promotional price of £5 to £7 from August 24 to September 3.

Helen Taggart, co-owner of Metrodeco in Upper St James Street, said: “The housewives tipple has become cool and trendy. Sussex Gin Week is enabling those venues that already have a great gin selection to showcase the best of what they have to offer. From us, expect 1930s classics plus our very own gin-based tea cocktail using Sussex’s Blackdown gin”.

As the recipes flood in, its impressive to see the levels of creativity from bartenders, mixologists and even chefs. Over the past decade or so, Brighton has established itself as one of the best cocktail scenes in the UK and that creativity will really shine during gin week.

In addition to the drinks promotion, there are also a number of gin-themed restaurant events including the headline Gin Makers Dinner at The Salt Room in King’s Road on August 29. Head chef Dave Mothersill will be including gin elements and matches across the menu with spirits from the East London Liquor Company and both Blackdown and Chilgrove in Sussex.

He said: “Hosting this event allows us to be more creative and stray away from the norm. We looked at the botanicals and aromatics found in the gin as inspiration, all wonderful matches with seafood and fish. Coriander is a good example of this, from cooked coriander seed and coriander dust to the raw herb. We are taking a classic drink - the gin and tonic with lime with an oyster- think of an oyster cocktail”.

Other events include a botanicals foraging and cocktail making masterclass at the Queen Vic in Rottingdean with Mayfield Gin, cheese and gin matching at La Cave à Fromage, Ginpourium at the Old Albion, and the Sussex Festival of Gins at Hotel du Vin.

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