If you haven’t been to the Swettenham Arms this year, then you’ve missed out on the next big thing – our summer gin bar! What could be nicer on a hot summer’s day than sipping a tall glass of something chilled, in our beer garden overlooking the lavender field? We’ve got at least 15 types of artisan gin available, from Bombay Sapphire and Hendricks to our very own sloe gin, so there’s something to suit every taste.
Although gin has now become synonymous with British summers, the spirit itself is originally Dutch in origin. The name comes from the Dutch word ‘jenever’, and that’s where we get ‘Dutch courage’ from as well. The English first came across gin in the 17th century during the Thirty Years’ War, and saw Dutch soldiers helping themselves to their national spirit, jenever, for a boost in morale. Gin is made by distilling fermented grain with juniper and other botanical ingredients. Each artisan manufacturer has a slightly different take, and guards its recipe jealously, but some of the most popular additions include lemon peel, coriander, liquorice, various flowers such as lavender and chamomile, and black pepper. The resulting drink tastes complex, delicate, floral, fresh, spicy, sweet or warming, depending on the exact recipe.
Gin isn’t meant to be drunk straight, as the complex flavours really come out when they’re mixed with other flavours. That’s why gin is such a popular ingredient in cocktails, and when drunk on its own is almost always mixed with tonic water. Gin and tonic was historically the only thing to drink in tropical climates, as the quinine in the tonic water helped stave off malaria.
So head on down to the Swettenham Arms, and grab yourself a glass of summer. Just choose your favourite tipple from our selection, then sit back and relax.