Norfolk Gin turns 2!

When you’re invited to spend an afternoon drinking Gin, eating yummy food, scoffing cake and basking in a beautiful sunny garden, there are definitely worst jobs in the world. This is how I spent the afternoon of Saturday 10 June when I was invited to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of much-loved local producer Norfolk Gin.

The sun was shining – and the Gin was flowing – in Norfolk Gin’s pretty garden

Since launching two years’ ago, Norfolk Gin has gone from strength-to-strength, with the fragrant tipple now served in practically every pub, restaurant and bar in Norfolk. The bottles are so pretty, Gin-lovers frequently use keep them to use as soap dispensers or vases (I have one sat on my kitchen table that’s currently filled with carnations).

In true Jonathan style (he’s a real gent), guests weren’t just business colleagues with whom he’s had dealings with over the last two years, but friends and family – the builder who did his lovely extension, his neighbours, his accountant… It was a relaxed celebration and ‘thank you’ to everyone who has supported him over the last two years. And we were all invited into his lovely home in Eaton for a late afternoon of food, drink and fun (and oh lovely summer sunshine).

The evening began with Jonathan’s lovely wife, Alison, making the first cocktail of the evening by showing us some twists on the G&T classic – I went for Norfolk Gin with pink lemonade and thyme, and it was utterly delicious. Jonathan even dusted off a 2015 bottle of Norfolk Gin for the occasion. In fact, so much thought was given to the party that the music was a selection of songs that Jonathan regularly plays to the gin as it develops (I certainly function better when music is playing so why not Gin?).

Jonathan and his wife Alison dishing out cake and strawberries

Drink in hand, guests then wandered into Jonathan’s lovely wild garden, with its vintage-style seating, pretty outhouses, gravel pathways and cats, to get to know one another – although, this being Norfolk, several already did. See how many names you recognise from the roll call of guests:

Claire from Roots, Norwich (right) and her friend Shannon

Horse trainer Neil with his partner Di (do you horse ride Jonathan?)

Ginny and John

Jonathan with Actor Etta

Kate and Ashley

Philippa The Pots w. Paul and Helen from Giggly Goat, Norwich

Accountant Keith and his fiancé Trish (he does Jonathan’s sums)

Susie Pritchard of Wake Up Little Susie with husband Simon of Artbeat64 (yeah man!)

Mark the Builder with his wife Mel (Mark built Jonathan’s lovely extension)

Actor Moira

Amazing food was placed on every surface in the kitchen – all local and scrumptious. Guests tucked into fresh bread from Bread Source, cheeses from Jarrolds and the Cheeseman on Norwich Market, fruit and salad from the City Farm Shop, homemade tortillas from Mrs Norfolk Gin, Norfolk Gin/cucumber-infused chutney from Candi’s Chutney, home-cured salmon brought fresh from Chris The Fish, an especially-made shiny pork pie with ‘Norfolk Gin’ written across the top in pastry (what?) from Sarah of Brays Pies, and charcuterie from Jackie and Sarah of Marsh Pig. Silence fell across the room for at least three minutes!

Norfolk Gin/cucumber-infused chutney was provided by Candi and Ian of Candi’s Chutney

Chris The Fish and his wife Heather brought a fresh piece of salmon to the table

Sarah of Bray’s Cottage made a pork pie especially for the occasion, pictured here with friend Dawn

Did you really make that pie? Don’t tell me porkies!

Charcuterie was provided by Sarah and Jackie of Marsh Pig

The star of the show was the incredible cake, an exact replica of the Norfolk Gin bottle, the ‘sealed by hand’ label which goes on the lid and Jonathan’s little electric car (affectionately named Ginneverre) which he uses to hand-deliver batches to clients.

Too good to eat – the most amazing cake!

Right, let’s get into this bad boy!

We’re going in…

For me? Don’t mind if I do

And who made this wonderful cake, we all asked once we had tucked into the layer of tangy lemon sponge with rich buttercream (the bottom layer was a lime-infused sponge). Cake maker Tracy, who sadly couldn’t attend the celebrations (good job really, or I might have proposed to her!).

Tracy made the Norfolk Gin novelty cake – and boy was it good

Other people of note that couldn’t make it include Jeff and Sarah, who were involved in the testing, and Brian who was the first outlet to make an order in 2015.

One person who made it all the way down from Cumbria to mark the occasion was Norfolk Gin bottle designer Kerry Wielkopolka (I challenge you to say that after one too many Norfolk Gin, pink lemonade and thyme cocktails), pictured below with the local press (aka yours truly):

Bottle designer Kerry with Muddy Stilettos

Talking of pies, founder and gin-maker Jonathan gets his fingers into many, entering into many partnerships with the local community – from commissioning Norfolk Gin-based artwork to launching Gin-infused Prohibition Nights, Jonathan’s smiley face has become well-known county-wide.

Enter Simon Pritchard, a local artist who Jonathan met at an amateur dramatics society (is there no end to this man’s talents). Asked to create canvasses featuring Norfolk Gin, Simon got to work. So far, he has completed four pieces: Spring, Lunch, Party and Date. He used the party to unveil his latest ‘Summer in Swing’ which was also a first-see for Jonathan.

Simon Pritchard’s artwork. L-R: Spring, Lunch, Party, Date

The grand unveiling of ‘Summer in Swing’ featuring  actress/singer Camille O’Sullivan – what do you think Jonathan?

Next up was Fran who created the most amazing clip for Norfolk Gin which will be available on YouTube soon – watch this space!

Artist Fran and her partner James who created the Norfolk Gin video clip

Who took all these wonderful photographs, I hear you cry? Well, that was Robin but, as he was taking pics, we obviously don’t have one of him (have you ever noticed how Clarke Kent and Superman are never in the same room?). So this lovely vintage camera pic can be Robin for now.

Robin the Photographer (have you been working out?)

With the thank you’s done, the food eaten, the cake scoffed and more Gin down my neck than I had hoped to consume (it’s just sooo good), it was time to call it a night. But not before one final thank you: from me to Jonathan for inviting me into his home to mark this wonderful celebration – a summer garden party to remember.

Prints of Artbeat64’s Summer in Swing, or others from the Norfolk Gin collection, can be ordered through Norfolk Gin. Email: [email protected]

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