Fi Shoop mixes gin and talk with a whisky-style tasting to help you get the most out of the five chosen gins and their matching mixers
The format is simple, each gin is carefully nosed to discover the scents of the botanicals and beyond, the mixer is sampled on its own to identify its flavours separate from the gin, and then the two are mixed – don't pour it all in, you can always add more. You can even hold half the sample of gin back for later and mix it with the suggested cocktails – or the other half of the chosen mixers eg Tinkture Rose Gin with Walter Gregor's Tonic or their Cucumber and Mint Tonic after the tasting.
One question that's worth asking with any gin is 'can I drink it neat?' – always try it that way, whether on our tasting, at home or out and about. Some can, some definitely can't but one of tonight's gins is a revelation!
My must-have cocktail cabinet ingredients are The Bitter Truth Traveling Bitters Set. Just a couple of dashes of their intense bitters can transform a cocktail. There are two different versions, each containing five bitters. I use the one with Bitter Truth Orange, Celery, Old Time Aromatic, Creole and Jerry Thomas Bitters. Perfect for all occasions. There's nothing wrong with the old tried and tested Angostura Bitters but that would be like saying you only need one gin! 
Do even you need to use bitters? No but you will be missing out if you don't. Same with garnishes, although a slice of lemon in a classic G&T can be a bad move and overwhelm the botanicals, it's down to which gin you choose. I have a handy selection of Nim's Infusions, dehydrated fruit wheels, perfect for garnishing, especially when it's not easy to pop to the shops or you just want a quick cocktail and don't have fresh fruit at home.
Order of drinking
Sabatini Gin – Walter Gregor's Cucumber and Mint Tonic Water
Boatyard Old Tom Gin – Walter Gregor's Tonic Water
Tinkture Rose Gin –- Artisan Drinks Co. Violet Blossom Tonic Water
Pilgrim’s Original Gin – Walter Gregor's Apple and Cinnamon Tonic Water
Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin – Fever-tree Ginger Ale 
Sabatini – Walter Gregor's Cucumber and Mint Tonic Water
Botanicals – Olive leaves, lavender, thyme, sage, lemon verbena, fennel, orris, coriander and juniper
Embassy Fizz
This is a celebration cocktail named in honour of The Spirits Embassy. I prefer to use Champagne for this but you can choose English fizzy wine, Prosecco or Cava, depending on what's in your fridge. For a mocktail alternative, skip the gin and fizz, replace the St Germain with an elderflower cordial and top with 150ml ginger ale. One of my summer favourites
25ml Sabatini Gin
15ml St Germain Elderflower Liqueur
5ml Rose’s Lime Cordial
100ml Lanson Champagne or dry fizz of your choice
Pour the Sabatini Gin, St Germain Elderflower Liqueur and Rose's Lime Cordial into a cocktail shaker full of ice, shake and strain into a Champagne flute, top with Champagne
Boatyard Old Tom Gin – Walter Gregor's Tonic Water
Botanicals – Sweet gale, grains of paradise, lemon, angelica, liquorice, orris, coriander and juniper, sweetened with Fermanagh honey
Negroni with a Twist
A classic Negroni is made with equal parts of gin, Campari and vermouth. It can be very bitter but the trick if, like me, you have a sweeter tooth, is to use an Old Tom Gin but you can also switch the bitter Campari for Aperol which is also refreshing to drink on its own with a soda or tonic water, it's also lower in alcohol than Campari. You don't have to use any bitters if you don't have any/want to but they really make a difference, the Bitter Truth Celebry Bitters is a surprising twist to the classic cocktail
25ml Boatyard Old Tom Gin
25ml Aperol
25ml Belsazar Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes of Bitter Truth Celery or Orange Bitters, optional
Orange wheel, to garnish
Pour the liquids over ice into an old-fashioned glass, add the bitters if desired – the spicy celery bitters make such a difference but use orange bitters if you don't have any – stir and garnish with an orange wheel.
Tinkture Rose Gin – Artisan Drinks Co. Violet Blossom Tonic Water
Botanicals – Secret blend of David Austin English rose petals, juniper, coriander, angelica, orris, lemon and orange peel 
Rose and Lychee Martini
I fell in love with this cocktail at a Chinese dim sum restaurant in London. My mum assures me that she hates Martinis – but adores this colourful party favourite. I make it by the jugful every party and invariably end up making a second jug – which says a lot about my friends! Easy to make but very impressive. 
The rosebuds can be gathered in season from your garden (if you have one) and used fresh or dried, Chinese supermarkets or Whittard's as they also make great tea, as well as attractive cocktail garnishes. Lychee juice is available from many supermarkets, you could swap 15ml out for 15ml of lychee liqueur for an extra oomph
30ml Tinkture Rose Gin
20ml Belsazar Dry Vermouth
5ml rose water or, for a sweeter mix, Monin’s Rose Syrup
80-100ml lychee juice, to taste
3 rosebuds, to garnish (if desired)
Pour into a cocktail shaker full of ice, shake, then strain into a Martini glass and top with 3 rosebuds if you want to make it look all glam. A party favourite
Pilgrim’s Original Gin – Walter Gregor's Apple and Cinnamon Tonic Water
Botanicals – Juniper, coriander, angelica, grapefruit, liquorice, then blended with blackcurrant
The Black Flowers Cocktail
A long and refreshing fruity cocktail which works so well with the botanicals of the Pilgrim's Original Gin and that added blackcurrant, it's also an alternative to the classic Bramble cocktail

50ml Pilgrim's Original Gin25ml lemon juice10ml sugar syrup15ml White Heron British Cassis150ml apple juiceApple slice, to garnish

Add to a cocktail shaker full of ice, shake, strain and pour into an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a slice of apple or 3-5 big fat blackberries, when in season

Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin – Fever-tree Ginger Ale
Botanicals – Tasmanian pepperberry, lemon myrtle, fresh oranges, lavender, cardamon, coriander, cassia, star anise, angelica and juniper, then steeped in and blended with Yarra Valley Shiraz grapes
Gin & It
A classic twist on a Martini but with equal parts of gin and sweet vermouth. The beautiful vanilla notes of Antica Formula also plays so well with the rich red wine of the Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin. One for lazy evenings – or brunches
25ml Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin
25ml Antica Formula
1-2 raspberries, to garnish, optional
Pour the liquids into a cocktail shaker full of ice, shake and strain into a Martini glass, garnish with a raspberry or two, if desired. 
Our next gin tasting is on 11th June and there are some fantastic gins, mixers and cocktails planned