Gin’s the word
Gin is a bit like marmite for most, it strikes up conversations that reflect on the good (or bad) times when gin has had a hand in the events to follow. It isn’t to everyone’s taste but then, it’s also had a lot of work to do to shake off the reputation of being a home wrecking tonic for 50s housewives. Love it or hate it, Jo Farish has made a wonderful living from following her palette and it’s great to meet (and work) with someone who above all, is incapable of making a drink that is anything less than the very best.
The Gin Garden has stemmed from this passion and is exactly that, a travelling Gin Garden, and you will find them popping up in unexpected spaces, mixing and serving drinks with exceptional care and flair. Working with local distilleries, and complementing the botanicals of their unique gin with local herbs, fruits and flowers, they source as many ingredients as possible from local artisan producers and small businesses. I chatted to Jo about how her love of gin and the story of The Occasional Garden inspired her to make a living from it and trust me, you will never look at a gin & tonic in the same way again….
1. How did the Gin Garden come about and why choose gin as the focus of your endeavours?
Through a complete love of fin and gardens. I was helping out at The National Trust’s property ‘Fenton House’ while they were organising their Apple Weekend celebrations. Combining apple juice from the Fenton’s orchard with honey from their hive and flowers from the garden to make delicious drinks seemed like a naturally brilliant idea – The Gin Garden was born.
Gin is a horticulturalist’s drinks of choice. It can contain so many different botanicals and it’s so adaptable that it was the obvious choice of spirit for us to use, we love other spirits too though.
2. As a travelling gin garden, what’s the most fanciful place you’ve rocked up to?
The most fanciful are to come early next year, we’ll be taking The Gin Garden abroad to some beautiful exotic locations.
3. What makes an exceptional gin beverage?
The quality of the gin and the quality and freshness of the ingredients. We go to pick as many of our ingredients as we can on the morning o our events. Last week our team was out picking nettles, hawthorn, blossom and elderflower. Next week it will be new ingredients just coming into season.
4. Tell us about the artisan producers you work with….
We work closely with ‘The Herball’* who produce beautiful aromatic waters and hydrasols as well as herbal infusions and a whole range of other herbal products. We are using Mette’s eaux de vies a lot in our drinks.
*The Herball: Formed in 2012 and inspired by John Gerard. 1597 Historie Of Plants, The Herball is dedicate dto sharing and presenting ways in which people can integrate the power, beauty and joy of plants into their everyday lives.
5. And what about the herbalists and experts you with closely with?
We work with a number of herbalists, Christopher Hedley led our recent Tours of The Chelsea Physic garden. He is absolutely fascinating to talk to even if you aren’t interested in herbs. His stories of the history of herbal medicine and of the common use of plans to improve humankind’s condition are highly entertaining and heart warming.
6. Where and how did you learn your gin expertise?
I’m still learning, I am very privileged to work with some tremendously knowledgable people and fantastic gins, so every event is a learning experience.
7. In what far flung places can we expect to see you popping up this summer?
We can’t say quiet yet, but we are playing a trip to the seaside….
8. Let us in on a little secret.. how do you make the perfect gin cocktail?
With love! Making a great drink is like cooking for family or friends, you can tell when it’s been made with care, attention and good feeling.
Keep an eye out for The Gin Garden at the following locations this summer:
5/6th July – Jazz, Fulham Palace Gardens29th August – Nomad cinema, fulham palace gardens5th September – Nomad cinema, fulham palace gardens12th September -Nomad cinema, fulham palace gardens15th September – Queens Park Day19th September – Nomad cinema, fulham palace gardens27/28th September – Fenton House’s Apple Weekend (& The Gin Garden’s 1st Birthday Celebrations)