Food and drink. Music and laughs. An explosive experience. Few things combine for a truly memorable night quite like good food with an equally good drink in the right company.
For many food and drink enthusiasts the world over, a meal with wine sounds like the more natural combination. With a bit of boldness, however, food can go well with whiskey too. Even a beer. A beef steak with a heavy whiskey, especially, will leave your spirits elevated and palate wanting more.
But gin and food? Well, not quite so common. At least not until recently.
Many drink palates in Kenya fancy their gin neat, with a mixer (water/soft drink) or in a cocktail. That is just about as much as we drink our gin.
Enter creativity – and a bit of ambition – and gin and food are as much a natural combo as wine and food have been for centuries. Or any other beverage that could go well with a meal.
And why not? After all, gin has been the undisputed drink of the pandemic, a title it continues to hold without relenting.
And what a better day to drink gin alongside food than on World Gin Day.
Last week, Diageo reserve brands marked the World Gin Day by hosting a curated gin masterclass event at Botanica Kitchen and Gin Bar restaurant in Nairobi, where guests were treated to a five-course dinner paired with its premium gin Tanqueray.
Sharon Mwangi, the Diageo ambassador for reserve brands, was in charge of the evening’s proceedings, introducing the drinks in an experience that ticked all the right boxes, and a first in this gin market.
The session featured a canapé sampling from a set menu by Botanica’s head chef Luca, who not only went out of his way to prepare the five courses to perfection but also to curate perhaps the most fitting combination of dishes and a collection of gin. On this night of adventure, Diageo’s premium gin Tanqueray was on the menu.
As per usual, guests were welcomed with a classic gin and tonic that did more than arouse their taste buds: it kicked out the night’s piercing cold.
The first course entailed tomato and Mozzarella mini calzone, paired with “The Love Sensation” a delightful gin cocktail served at the restaurant.
In the second course, guests delighted in barbeque beef skewers served in a strong sauce that went with Negroni. If the sauce awakened the taste buds, the Negroni, with its forceful bitters, whipped them into submission.
At the end of this course, I knew it was my favourite of them all even as three more remained. It turned out to be the best for the majority of the attendees.
Then came the third course: potato and mushroom croquettes. This one could not have been paired better than with Sevilla Orange Spritzer, another cocktail popular with the patrons at the eatery.
While sitting through a dining experience can be quite confusing at first, the palate gets more discerning as the night wears on. It was no different on this night.
Course four was Indian-style possin potatoes that went with “The Saturn”, one of Botanica’s signature cocktails. To be fair, this one was underwhelming to me, as were the chicken and pepper skewers served for the fifth course, the latter being too sweet to the liking of most diners.
Overall, though, it was a pleasant experience that revealed the limitless options of enjoying gin.
If you like to pair food and a drink, you have in gin a friend that is willing to bend to suit your needs. Try it out. You will wonder why you never did it earlier, gladder you tried it out in the end.