In case you didn’t know, Atlas Bar Manchester houses over 350 different gins – which are archived into their very own self-proclaimed Gin Bible. NEAT Gin is the latest edition to the catalogue.
You don’t normally associate EastEnders with gin – except perhaps for that large G&T you sipped whilst sitting on the edge of your seat during a particularly harrowing episode, or maybe during the binge watch you treat yourself to after lunch on a Sunday afternoon.
Adam Woodyatt, better known to most soap addicts as Ian Beale, is changing all that.
NEAT Gin is a brand of gin all his own – something that had me raising an eyebrow, till the bartender grapevine told me that it was, well, ‘a bit good’.
If a bartender I trust tells me that, I’m going to listen.
And I’m pleased to say that our very own Atlas, Manchester’s biggest gin bar, is one of the first venues in the UK to get hold of it and hosted Adam and his wife Beverley for one of their Gin Supper Clubs.
These dinners match three courses of food to three gin servings. The food is from the team at Beehive Food, the drinks expertly created by the Atlas team. They’re a delight. I’m no stranger to them and have incredibly fond memories of a gin baba (cousin of a rum baba) paired with a G&T.
But I digress. This evening was all about Ian, Beverley, and NEAT Gin.
The spirit itself is based on a 15th century recipe – the same used by the creators of G’Vine in 2014 to enhance our understanding of gin, with a few subtractions.
The recipe is limited in terms of measurements. A pinch of this, a dash of that. The resulting spirit created was… interesting.
The decision was made to change the recipe, by trial and error, down from eleven botanicals to eight.
And whilst Adam is a little reticent to reveal all the botanicals involved, I do know that those included in the original 15th Century recipe include ginger, galangal, grains of paradise, cloves, cardamom, sage and large amounts of nutmeg.
As for the dinner, I couldn’t have wished for better. We began with NEAT Gin on the rocks, paired with a NEAT gin and pink grapefruit-cured salmon, with celeriac remoulade and celeriac and caper crisps. A match made in heaven.
The main featured a stunning harissa marinated duck breast with romesco sauce and pomegranate and basil tabbouleh, matched with NEAT Gin and pomegranate and basil tonic. The duck was tender, and spicy, the romesco soft and nutty, the tabbouleh fresh, clean and well matched to the G&T.
Dessert was one for the chocolate fans. A deep rich chocolate tart, served with blood orange and star anise, steeped in NEAT Gin, served with The Red Star cocktail.
NEAT Gin is a versatile gin with lovely floral notes, a hint of spice, and a richness in the finish that means it’s delicious in a G&T, but absolutely soft enough to sip on its own with a little ice.
As for Adam, I don’t expect this to be his last visit to Manchester as a gin ambassador. I’ve got a feeling we should watch this space.
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