Where do I BeGIN? 20 years of Citadelle Gin:
Mother’s Ruin and the most favoured tipple by so many, I was fortunate enough to be invited to the exclusive celebration of 20 years of Citadelle Gin meal hosted by the inventive and highly discerning Disappearing Dining Club. I resisted donning my beret and French accoutrements but the emphasis really was on a Gallic slant with ‘l’escargot’ and other delights providing the perfect pairings for Citadelle Gin.
Held at the Ropewalk Bar and Dining Room inside LASSCO, an architectural salvage warehouse on Maltby Street, it really was worth taking a stroll around to view the curios and eclectic goods on sale. Secret passages, a surprise around every corner, large and small objects, I could have staged my own episode of Bargain Hunt!
Let’s look at the menu first – Bon Appetit was very much the order of the day with each course paired perfectly with a different Gin mix. The traditional Citadelle Gin and Tonics were presented to us on arrival with thick wedges of orange zest and ice enhancing the flavour to perfection. The perfect remedy after a long hard day – flavoursome, bursting with aromatics and a long, much-appreciated thirst quencher. These were accompanied by Snail, Lemon and Garlic Arancini, Herb Aioli, a first for me – the slippery little suckers as quoted in the invite itself were a new introduction to my palate. It’s sometimes hard to dispel entrenched misconceptions about molluscs but by golly, the brave are duly rewarded for their efforts. I found them delicate, smooth and immensely tasty with the Lemon and Garlic tones coming through in every mouthful. Definitely, a dish that I would order again particularly as the starter element of a meal.
Next up was a rare treat and my goodness this drink packed one heck of a punch. The Escargot Martini ‘a twist on the classic martini with an affectionate nod to France’s long-standing love affair with the iconic gastropod’ – I couldn’t have put this better myself. The escargot element of the drink was floating on top containing an olive brine – how much you tipped into your Martini to muddy and dilute the effect was a purely personal preference, I opted for about half the contents. This was a full-on immersive experience – my eyes watered and the taste left no hostages with a long smooth finish. Not to be outdone, the drink was accompanied by a Fois Gras Slider, Sour Apple Chutney, Brioche that provided sheer smooth deliciousness via every morsel.
The third and last drink was a Salted Rosemary Gin Fizz – to me, a much more playful outdoors taste which would go perfectly with BBQs, Picnic Hamper or an Al Fresco Lunch. Frothing at the bit and very smooth, it was a softer taste to the others and my own particular favourite of the threesome. Again the perfect pairing in food choice was accomplished – Brie, Leek and Truffle Croquette, Caramelised Red Onions.
Paul McFadyen, Citadelle’s Brand ambassador gave a really rousing and energy filled talk on Citadelle’s history and provenance. His passion and genuine enthusiasm for the brand was highly prevalent and he really engaged his audience describing himself as a ‘tireless supporter of the gin category’! Anybody posing the question ‘Why a French Gin?’ would have had their answer comprehensively answered. Paul meticulously outlined the foundations of Gin going back to Jenever and how it flooded mainland Europe before travelling across the channel in droves (at one point it was estimated that 92 bottles per person per year were consumed, that figure including men, women and children)! The breakthrough for Citadelle Gin in France emerged when Alexandre Gabriel, Founder of La Maison Ferrand, wanted to use the Cognac pot still during the offseason when they legally couldn’t distill Cognac back in 1775. The intensity and consistency of flavour can be attributed to the presence of 19 botanicals in every bottle of Citadelle (more like a Bordeaux Wine) – the lavender, spice and fruit components are very evident notes when tasting and exploring the taste and aftertaste. The botanicals are actually added over 2 weeks and the flame to base of still distillation process allows precision and accuracy in the process. At 44% APV, the taste really embraces the Frenchness of this liquid and enervates it bringing it to life and instilling each sip with a quality rarely found in gin. Stuart Langley from the Disappearing Dining Club also gave a fascinating short talk on how he has brought food to unusual locations and made it part of the general montage that people actually work and live with.
I found the whole evening deliciously decadent and a minefield of encyclopaedic knowledge that in turn gave Citadelle a real presence and character. It doesn’t surprise me about its host of awards as quality underpins the whole process from still to sip. My thanks go to all involved for the welcome, the excellent service, the wealth of knowledge shared with diners and last but not least having the opportunity to sample such exquisite delights in both food and drink categories. If Gins had status, this would be a top class ambassador surpassed by none!
For more information about Citadelle Gin, check out their website