A crazy Birthday Cocktail Party in Norfolk

Weekend review, 25/01/2019 to 28/01/2019. Yup. 4 Events. 4 Days. Including a Monday!!


The weekend started for me on Friday night, I had a gin tasting for a birthday party celebrating Ash's 34th birthday party. Just a small event, just eight of them in total, that was until the daughter found out that he was having a gin tasting and so she hot footed it down from university so she could be there for the evening.

Book a Cocktail Masterclass with Steve the Barman

This was my first gin tasting of 2019, and yes, with just nine of them it was very small group, but it was a very fun group. And as it was a small group, I wanted to try something different, so for those of you who don't know, normally my gin tasting evenings consist of eight different gins, everything is tried blind...and no blindfolds, just completely blind ... as in the guests have no idea what they're drinking. So this time I rolled out ten different gins and I kind of covered the pink gin category a bit more, so we had two different styles of pink gin to discover.

The whole reason I do my gin tastings blind is because I want people to have an independent view of what they like, I want people to find out what style of gin that they love as opposed to listening to marketing hype and to pick out colourful, beautiful bottles that people are drawn to as opposed to the whole liquid inside.

Gin tasting Night with Steve the Barman

And it's the same with the tonic tasting that comes afterward. I want people to be able to taste and find a tonic that they actually like as opposed to thinking, is Fever Tree actually the best tonic?

Now on a normal gin tasting night there is no out and out clear gin winner because everyone has completely different palates and tastes but the point is not to find the winner, the point is, as I've just mentioned, everyone can find their own favourite style of gin so they know what to buy in the future. However this time out, because it was a small group of nine people, most of the group actually found their perfect gin and it was the same gin. And for the first time ever, eight of the nine people managed to pick out Fever Tree out of the blind tonic tasting. This was interesting because when I do gin nights in pubs and bars through the week, it's normally Tesco's tonic water that reigns supreme however as these were proper gin enthusiasts, Fever Tree was the tonic water that won the night, that was everyone's favourite.

The comedy moment came though on gin number three. After tasting, the hostess proclaimed, "Ugh, I don't like that, that is nothing like my favourite gin Bombay Sapphire." Guess what ... five minutes later on the reveal, she was absolutely shocked when I showed her that she's actually been drinking Bombay Sapphire for years but only just found out that she didn't really like it. Instead, she preferred Bulldog gin and Bloom gin. So that was Friday, it was based just the other side of Hitchin in a small farmhouse, lovely house, everyone was just sitting around the table.


By complete contrast, Saturday was an out and out lary birthday party. I was hired for a 50th birthday party by crazy, adorable Glynis. She hired me to serve cocktails to her and 30 odd guests. They had hired Ingoldisthorpe Hall which is just near Sandringham in Norfolk. This was a lovely, but massive house.

When I arrived they were all sitting down eating dinner in the dining room which left me free to set up in a kind of lounge...or one of the lounges I should say! Glynis had asked me to provide two cocktail trees...24 espresso martini's...so that was their welcome drink and then things went rapidly downhill after that.

Espresso Martini Tree's by Steve the Barman

The cocktail menu that she's chosen consisted of a Mojito, my Slow Spritz which is a combination of Sloe gin, Fever Tree clementine tonic water, lemon sugar and Prosecco, and then she had a Nice Pear which was a Spiced Rum, pear puree, pressed apple juice with lime betters and finished off with ginger beer. We obviously had the espresso martinis on the menu too and then we had a couple of fun drinks; the Jamaican Me Crazy, which is spiced rum, topped up with Ting Grapefruit soda and then crowned with a blackberry liqueur. And then we had a Raspberry Tipple which is a mixture of gin, raspberry liqueur and Double Dutch's, a brilliant cranberry and ginger tonic water and that was finished off with dehydrated strawberries.

This event was an early start for me, I was there by one o'clock and the espresso martini tree was ready for them after lunch at three o'clock. Not long after that, the songs came out, the dancing started and I was serving through til about 6pm after they'd drunk their prepaid allowance of 100 cocktails.

This was a really fun event, I dread to think the state of their heads the next morning, The funny thing was, I did get greeted by a text from Glynis on Saturday morning, at 10am... the morning of the event, to tell me to "make the cocktails strong, becasue she was Hanging. And then when I got there, I found out that she'd already started the day with three pints of Bloody Mary. Life begins at 50 they say!!!