Food and Cocktail Matching in Manchester with Martin Miller’s Gin

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There’s a lot going on in Manchester, plenty of wonderful and innovative events keep many social calendars full.

However when an invitation came for me to attend a food and drink pairing collaboration between Martin Miller’s Gin ambassador and mixologist Leon Dalloway and Gorilla chef Will Taulin, I knew this would be a must.

This wonderful event was taking place in one of Manchester’s latest bars to arrive on the scene, Gorilla. Last year saw Manchester have a surge of new bars and restaurants opening and Gorilla quickly established itself as one of the top spots to visit. Good drinks, good food and good times. We would find ourselves being seated in the gin parlour, a room above the main bar and reminiscent of a traditional gin parlour of years ago.

The arrival drink was a signature Martin Millers and tonic which is served in one of their oversized, bespoke Martin Millers goblets, garnished with juniper berries and a large lime zest. This classic aperitif did exactly what a good aperitif should do – whet my palette and get my belly ready for some good food.

A short introduction to the brand by northern brand ambassador Leon Dalloway on Martin Miller’s and it’s approach to Gin making. Martin Miller’s uses a single pot, Angela, (distillers have a fondness for naming their stills) which was made back in 1898 by John Dore and sons, and is universally accepted as one of the ‘Rolls Royce’ of gin stills.

For Martin Miller’s gin there is no party for the heads and tails, both are discarded. The central part of the distillation, the heart, and only the heart of the spirit is kept. Importantly, neither Martin Miller, or Angela for that matter, hold with ‘berry trays’ or Carterheads. Sparkling bright, pure and unpolluted water is drawn from their own spring in Iceland. This is water like no other, icy cold and alive, it emerges into daylight for the first time in maybe 800 years, rising from the depths of the basalt mountains.

The room buzzing with excitement, our first cocktails and course arrived. The drink, a clever twist on The White Lady, using sage, peach and Benedictine, having a sweet but herbaceous flavour paired wonderfully with the amuse bouche of ceviche of seabream with a fresh zing to it, which balanced perfectly with the drink.

Course number two was a pulled pork rillette which was served with a tomato and chilli jam and an apple and walnut salad. The accompanying drink is a bartender favourite, the Red Snapper. The Snapper had a beautiful meaty front palate which was well seasoned by reducing a veal and pork stock, honey, balsamic vinegar and red wine. Although a very complicated palate, the Martin Millers shone through.

As a wonderful evening was being had by all, maybe a little too wonderful for some people and unfortunately this is where my pace notes get a little light. To eat we were served a seared hangar steak with celeriac and horseradish puree, with a lovely sweet jus and bit of savoury bacon which all worked a treat. The drink was an incredibly refreshing Martin Millers cobbler; a nutty, fruity, sweet yet sour cobbler. Leon took time to visit each table and explain the flavour pairing with the meat, I just forgot to write that bit down!

The final course in all its glory was a cardamom and pineapple panacotta with a rhubarb compote and almond praline as the dessert. The cocktail itself was an indulgent dessert-inspired tipple – a Martin Millers cooked custard crème brulee cocktail that had a lovely hint of salted caramel that worked up an explosion of flavour goodness when paired with the dessert.

All in all a fantastic evening, a great gin and a great bar. It was then to Epernay for many (many) more digestifs and Martin Millers.

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Barry Van Goethem

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