Now, whilst it might be a myth that antibiotics and alcohol don't mix, I have to hold my hands up right away and confess to not being on fully top form for my trip on the Good Ship Gin for this year's round of Gincident cruises with The Liquorists. I thought I'd made a pretty good effort by donning a jaunty skull and crossbones neckerchief, but knew from the second that Didsbury Girl, my fragrant plus-one for the evening, came sauntering towards Castlefield Basin sporting an eye patch clearly robbed from her young son's toy box that I was hopelessly out of my depth.
Still, any Liquorists event is worth making an effort for, and Gincident is one of my favourites on their boozy calendar - a lovely jaunt down to Media City on a barge which has essentially been filled with gin and a selection of nice, cocktail-loving people, listening to Tom pontificate and run through his amazing repertoire of accents whilst sipping on cocktails in the manner of a lady. So whilst I may not have managed all of the following, I did at least try...
Welcome drink: a lovely long G & T, made with Caorunn gin, Fevertree Elderflower Tonic Water and a slice of red apple. This was pretty much the perfect start: I tried some of this Scottish gin recently but didn't have any apple to hand - it really did complement the other flavours though, meaning I will have to have a serious rethink on my policy of not ever having any fruit in the house.
Cocktails: you can't say Gincident isn't great value - we had five full-sized cocktails during our voyage (as well as another G & T when we got back to Liquorist HQ at Redbank), and these were they.
1. Opihr Pegu Club - Opihr Gin, apricot brandy, fresh lime and orange bitters. This one was a little strong for me (a fellow salty seadog said it put her in mind of one of those pomanders old ladies hang in their wardrobes) and reminded me of an orange cordial that had been made by a rather heavy-handed person. We agreed a splash of Prosecco would turn this into something far more refreshing (although sadly none of the four ladies at our table had any in their handbag - rather remiss).
2. Blue In Bloom - Bloom Gin, blue curaçao and egg white. I was a little put off by the colour but actually really enjoyed this one - its slight sweetness went perfectly with the spicy curry that was served up alongside it.
3. Message Gin A Bottle - Martin Miller gin, Sicilian lemon juice and a splash of crème de violette. This was a little like an Aviator and I quite liked it, although wasn't entirely sure about drinking from a blue plastic bottle. I suppose it would at least protect your drink if you were forced to walk the plank for some misdemeanor or other (like, for example, not having emergency Prosecco in your handbag).
4. Savannah Collins - Whitley Neill gin and Rooibos iced tea. I didn't like this one, because I don't like Rooibos tea, but everyone else did. In fact, I swapped mine with Didsbury Girl for her...
5. Abbey Martini - Tanqueray 10, fresh orange juice and Martini Rosso. This split the room (/barge) more than a little, but I liked its bitterness and felt it would be an excellent way to ward off scurvy should the driver take a wrong turn and accidentally extend our voyage.
Food: dinner came courtesy of street food traders The Holy Basil, who had somehow knocked up some pretty impressive boxed Thai food, including the sticky rice and fragrant curry that went so well with the Blue in Bloom.
So all in all, not my favourite line-up of Liquorists cocktails (down to my personal taste rather than the quality of the drinks) but great fun all the same. The company was great, Tom is an excellent host, and it's easy to imagine you are bravely sailing the high seas...until you spot the Blue Peter studios through your rain-lashed Manchester barge window.
More details about Gincident 2014 can be found here. I was invited as a guest and was not asked to pay for my ticket.