Top local tipples: Say cheers!
Drinks cabinet dry? Here's our pick of the best alcoholic beverages to fill your boots with, all lovingly made in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.
Black Bridge Distillery
The jewel in the crown of St Albans-based Black Bridge Distillery is their Blue Admiral Gin (£39 per bottle), which actually changes colour when you mix it with tonic. They also do a Classic Dry and a fruity Lime and Rhubarb if you like a bit of zing to your gin, as well as a Green Russian Vodka (£33 per bottle), made from 100% molasses and infused with green tea – intriguing!
Copper in the Clouds
Based on Dowsetts Farm in Ware, Copper in the Clouds use locally produced wheat, and botanicals foraged on the farm (where possible), to produce small batch and slightly bonkers spirits in gorgeous packaging. Each tells its own story, through the production, ingredients, flavour and bottle designs. Their Red Leaf Gin, (£39.50 for 70cl) is infused with seasonal botanicals including roasted hazelnuts, blackberry leaves and Seville orange peel.
Distilled right here in Hertfordshire – Stevenage to be precise – Old Vodka is a premium spirit made using a 200-year-old Georgian family recipe which has been handed down through three generations. Still a family fun business it’s made with all the original passion and it’s won a Great Taste award to prove it. Now there are 15 different flavours to choose from, including sloe and caramel if you’re after something festive. £29.99 for 70cl.
Willow Tree Gin
Willow Tree Gin is hand-crafted, by founder, Mary, on her family farm in Bedfordshire. It’s made with a blend of blend of 12 botanicals, including fresh lemon thyme and Thai basil and the herbs are all grown there on the farm – you don’t get much more home-grown than that! It’s local but with a hint of the exotic, inspired by Mary’s love of travel. £38 for 50cl.
Once a monastery, Warden Abbey is now a community-run vineyard in Bedfordshire. Four white grape varieties are grown there – Bacchus, Reichensteiner, Regner, and Muller Thurgau – and around 4000-6000 bottles produced per yield. As well as being made from locally grown grapes, they are also ethical, vegan and win awards year after year.
Tring Brewery rekindled the Herts town’s brewing tradition when it opened its doors in 1992 and now you can spot their beers at loads of local pubs and restaurants. They produce the beer on site with different varieties of hops and chalk-filtered Chiltern Hills water and have won bags of awards for their fab and quirkily named brews (Side Pocket for a Toad, anyone?). Visit the brewery shop and mix and match from the selection of core, seasonal and small batch beers.
The Mad Squirrel brewery is based in Potten End Herts and only came about in 2010. It’s since become the cool craft beer brand to be seen drinking in and around Herts with taprooms in Berkhamsted, St Albans, Hemel Hempstead and Harpenden, as well as around Bucks. Play it safe with the more tame pale ales and Pilsners or push the boat out with smoked lager or grapefruit radler.
Farr Brew‘s mantra is ‘creating great tasting real ales brewed with craft and a commitment to quality’ and the magic happens at their 10-barrel brewery, taproom and bottle shop in Wheathampstead, Herts. Since their humble microbrewery start, the team have now opened three pubs across the county and produce a range of ales, porters and bitters