Cambridge Cocktail Weekend is back for a second year, taking place at the Cambridge Corn Exchange 25 to 27 August 2017. The event was founded by Muddle and Mint to highlight the cocktail offering in Cambridge. It features a selection of Cambridge cocktail bars showcasing a menu of classic, signature and cutting edge cocktails. Local spirit and liqueur producers as well as premium national brands are on board too, giving attendees the opportunity to discover what they can do with their products
Cambridge Cocktail Weekend also offers an educational and interactive experience through workshops, masterclasses, live music and the WFA World Championship Grand Slam Competition where the world’s best flair bartenders compete in the art of juggling bar equipment to entertain and make great cocktails. Cambridge has the honour of hosting the fifth of seven annual Grand Slams held across the world.
Paulo and I attended on Friday, the opening day. There were ten bars selling cocktails and Nanna Mexico served up a variety of dishes made with nachos.
The little booklet prepared by Cambridge Cocktail Weekend, called a compendium, was well put together and contained all the information required for the event. We could peruse each bar’s cocktail menu and take our pick. It was a difficult choice to make! Some of the bartenders were happy to talk us through their cocktails, which helped us decide. The compendium also listed the masterclasses and workshops. Belvedere vodka ran two very popular ones on Friday.
The Early Night Club teamed up with My Little Festival to host a really rather lovely May Ball, which took place on 18 June 2016 at the historic Cambridge Union. The May Ball was a wonderful opportunity to join in on this celebratory time in Cambridge, particularly those of us who like to dance but also need our sleep (the Early Night Club’s entire premise is for events to start early and finish by midnight). Guerrilla Kitchen provided the delicious food for the evening, featuring some very original combination of flavours, particularly the mac ‘n’ cheese.
The Cambridge Union was the ideal location. We started the evening outdoors on their beautiful premises with a welcome cocktail made with Prosecco and Pinkster gin. We enjoyed listening to live music, provided by the immensely talented Tom Korni, and watched in amazement as the fairground performers, namely the hula hoop girl and the juggler on stilts, entertained the revellers. The festive tone was set!
There was a lot of other fun stuff too, such as a photo booth, hair station, glitter face painting, a sweet shop and fairground games (throwing hoops over Pinkster gin bottles and lobbing wooden balls at coconuts on sticks).
The Guerrilla Kitchen team (Jay, Taffeta and Reese) cooked up a storm in their outdoor stand and kept the steady queue of partygoers well fed throughout the evening.
Cambridge’s local food and drink scene was celebrated with another successful Eat Cambridge festival, organised by Heidi White with the help of her team of volunteers. The Main Event kicked off at the Corn Exchange on 7 May 2016, leading the way to a series of fantastic fringe events over a two-week period. Eat Cambridge is a foodie’s dream and I tried to attend as many events as I could.
I started off by volunteering at The Main Event. Heidi put a lot of work into organising Eat Cambridge and I thought the best way I could show my support was to volunteer and help out that day. There were about 40 stallholders, all local independents, showcasing their fabulous food and drink products.
The Gin Festival took place at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on 8-10 April, 2016. Tickets sold out in record time and I was delighted to attend the Friday slot with my husband Paulo. Aimed at gin novices and connoisseurs alike, the Gin Festival was a lot of fun and I enjoyed discovering the fantastic variety of gins in a laid back setting.
The event was well organised and each ticket holder received a branded balloon gin glass and a handy Gin Book.
All of the gin brands at the festival offered samples but with a staggering selection of gins at 4 different bars (A, B, C or D), it was a good idea to purchase tokens (4 for £20). One token per G&T and two tokens for a cocktail, served at the bar upstairs. The gin-based cocktails included Drunken Tulip, Northern Soul, Rhubarb Rumble, English Garden, Red Snapper and Negroni.
I took the time to go through the booklet as it contained information about the gins on offer and which bar they could be found. I also brought my own tote bag to carry the Gin Book and any other promo material I picked up from the brands. It was also handy for carrying my gin glass when I needed to keep my hands free.
On 19 November 2015, I had the pleasure of attending a momentous occasion: the official launch of online gift box and hamper company Cambridge Artisan, held at the Bridge Street branch of Cambridge Wine Merchants. Cambridge Artisan is the brainchild of enterprising 15-year-old Amélise Burr who has been wanting to start her own business for years. Her goal is to not only earn money to fund her university education (she aims to be a naval architect), it’s also to showcase independent local produce right here at our doorstep in Cambridgeshire and East Anglia in general.
Photo courtesy of Cambridge Artisan
With the full support of her father Robert Burr, who runs the popular mobile street food trailer Churros Bar with his wife Charlotte, they set off to source the variety of excellent products from local artisan producers. The result? Some of the very best food and drink the region has to offer… all of it available in a one-stop online shop and delivered right to your door. There are 30 local producers gathered under Cambridge Artisan’s virtual roof and best of all, their products can be accessed even when the markets are closed. There is a choice of several themed gift hampers or boxes and you can also purchase particular products separately, thus ensuring you are stocking your cupboards and “keeping it local”.
On 3 October 2015 foodPark’s fourth instalment of its popular NIGHT MARKET took place, once again, at Gravel Hill Farm at the North West Cambridge Development. I attended every one of them so far (February, May, July and October) and I can safely say I have experienced fantastic street food and drink in all seasons. I enjoyed them all and raved about the winter and spring NIGHT MARKETS here and here.
With foodPark founder Heidi White at the helm, this NIGHT MARKET was the biggest and best yet. The main difference was the addition of more bars. Apart from the foodPark BAR, which sold wine, fizz, soft drinks and water, there was a bar run by Jolly Good Beer dedicated solely to craft beer and a Pinkster gin den that was a bit of a hidden gem around the back.
Food and drink were the main attraction and Heidi and her team of volunteers kept the evening flowing smoothly. The event was well organised with rubbish being gathered in a timely manner. I noticed there was first aid cover provided by a private company.
Those who have heard me rave about my favourite gin, Pinkster, will understand my sheer delight at being invited to a tour and tasting at Pinkster HQ, near Cambridge. You may have even seen Pinkster’s eye-catching displays in some shops, such as Cambridge Wine Merchants, and at events and fairs. They really do their branding well!
My visit on 15 June was very well organised by Pinkster’s newest team member, Lyndsey Spellman, who is quite the gin connoisseur herself. It was a real treat to have a peek into Pinkster’s premises. I didn’t know what to expect but given the fact that taxis were arranged, I knew there was going to be a lot of gin flowing. Yessss!