Autumn marks a significant seasonal change as the nights start drawing in, central heating is turned back on and the winter warmers come back out of hibernation to keep us toasty warm. It’s also the time, for those who like to plan ahead and be organised, to start planning diaries to incorporate festive catch-ups and celebrations with their nearest and dearest.
Well, here at The Duke, as we bid farewell to the incredible summer we all enjoyed in our Garden Bar & Grill, it’s time to look ahead to new, upcoming events we have planned for you to enjoy throughout the darker months.
We love to source unique hosts to provide interesting workshops that provide the opportunity to learn something new in an enjoyable and relaxed environment (with delicious food and drink, of course). So make sure to check our Offers & Events page before planning something special.
What events have we got in store?
Our autumn and festive workshops are now online and available to book, which include a wonderful array of crafts and topics ranging from learning to willow-weave with local artist, Judith Needham; designing and creating your very own sterling silver charm bangle with jewellery designer, Fiona Dowling, to producing your very own festive wreath, with floral extraordinaire, Stella Doble.
For those who prefer workshops themed around food and drink, why not get your friends together and enjoy our Gin Tasting & Cocktail workshop over a festive two-course meal, hosted by co-owner, Nick Masters of the incredible Hawthorn’s Gin, or a delicious and insightful festive food & drink pairing with acclaimed drinks guru, Joel Eastman (Grape & Grain Tours).
Given our love of promoting local champions and suppliers, we managed to catch up with upcoming workshop-host, Nick Masters of Hawthorn’s Gin, over a refreshing G&T (of course) to find out a little more about him…
What made you first dip your toe in the world of drinks and what led to you and Will (CEO) working together?
Will and I met very early on, some 20 years ago, whilst I was working in a bar in a ski resort in France. He was in his third year abroad, teaching, but found time to ski at weekends by working for a university ski tour company. We had the idea of selling flavourings for vodka in the form of syrups and then we moved onto producing a range of flavoured vodkas called Slingshot. The rest, as they say, is history…
What has been the best moment, to date, in launching Hawthorn’s Gin?
It sounds ridiculous, but it has to be seeing the finished product coming off the production line and in its box, looking awesome and then seeing it on shelves in venues across the country. That, and picking up new export markets. We have also recently updated the bottle label and I feel incredibly proud of its new ‘look’ and we are extremely excited about what the future holds for us and our gin.
What is your favourite way to drink gin?
I actually drink Hawthorn’s neat, over ice, with some grapefruit peel; but I do like a good G&T too! Our signature-serve is actually a sea-salt rim around the top of the glass with a slice of lime and a bay leaf, then obviously your gin and preferred tonic.
As we start looking ahead to Christmas celebrations and dinner parties if you could offer one tip for being the perfect host at home, what would it be?
Make sure no one goes thirsty….and keep everyone’s glass filled!
What will you be asking Santa for this year and where will you be celebrating?
An Austin Healey 3000 would be great!! Sadly I don’t think he stretches to that sort of budget…it would be great to cruise around in it selling Hawthorn’s Gin though! This year, we’re actually heading to my in-laws for the Christmas period with the kids. Christmas is all about the kids for me so I’ll probably take a back seat and drink far too much Hawthorn’s Gin and eat way too much food…no change there!
What can we expect from your upcoming workshop at The Duke?
The aim is to give everyone the story of Hawthorn’s Gin – how it came about and how it’s made. We will obviously do a little tasting (neat…!), followed by a demonstration, and sample tasting, of cocktails and gin-based drinks that I have paired, with the help of Head Chef Jonathon, to complement the festive two-course meal being served. It will be a great night and people will definitely walk away having learnt something new about gin.
If you would like to book onto this festive workshop, which takes place here at The Duke on Wednesday 5th December from 7 pm, tickets are available now. We do recommend you book early though, as tickets are limited.