Debilitating knee injury and gin – how are these connected you might ask! Well, the Food and Drink Networking Club learnt exactly how, from the family-run gin business Jonomade Gin on Tuesday 8th October at Verdigris, Tonbridge. It transpires that son Josh was the brainchild behind the drink whilst resting his injured knee, creating a gin which combines the family’s New Zealand and British heritage, including ingredients such as manuka, cardamom, star anise and fennel. Josh and his dad Matt have been working on the product since April 2018 in their micro distillery just north of Sevenoaks in Chevening.
The gin is supported by and served in Verdigris, Tonbridge, our generous hosts for the evening. The restaurant, a fine dining destination with award-winning chef and keen forager Scott Goss in the kitchen and a well-founded reputation for great cocktails, has been open for just over a year and is a beacon of light on Tonbridge’s locally known big bridge, halfway up the High Street.
As always there was a real mix of attendees from across the food and drink sector – photographers, social media experts, bloggers like me, marketers, chefs, proprietors, producers and suppliers and some new faces which is always pleasing to see. Whilst we chatted and tucked into delicious canapes from Scott’s kitchen, we were also invited to try Hofmeister lager.
This lager has a fascinating story behind it with which Richard Longhurst, one of the owners of the brand, regaled us. Hofmeister is a lager that had been hugely successful with the iconic George the Bear in the 1970s and ‘80s, fell out of favour in the 1990s and was resurrected by Kent based Richard a few years ago when he bought the trademark from Heineken. Richard then explored Bavaria, tasting along the way (it’s a hard life!) to find an authentic brewer and Hofmeister #2 was born. Since then Hofmeister has gone on to win industry awards and as with Jonomade Gin, Verdigris have supported the business and the lager from the outset.
And now, back to the food and a treat was in store! In July, Scott and Jim Harrison, bar tender at Verdigris, entered the Remy Martin XO dessert pairing competition at Bibendum in London, up against prestigious London establishments, and they won! Scott passionately described his dessert to the Club attendees and how he had foraged locally for some of the ingredients such as wild strawberries and wild sorrel. His dessert was named “A Walk through the Kentish Countryside” and the Club stepped into his world as we savoured a small taste of it in the shape of a beetroot and apple truffle. Delicate in form and delicious on the tongue, a veritable delight that you didn’t want to end – a fantastic advertisement for the dessert which is now on the menu at Verdigris for all to try.
So, from gin to cognac, via Bavarian lager, tasty canapes, sumptuous dessert, fascinating stories and great company in fabulous surroundings all in one evening. Just a typical Food and Drink Networking Club meet!
If you would like to attend the next meeting, please contact Cara at Thomson Snell & Passmore.
The founding members of The Food & Drink Networking Club are:
Alisa Sweeney of Thomson Snell & Passmore. Thomson Snell & Passmore is one of the leading full-service law firms in the South East. The firm has been advising clients in the food and beverage industry for nearly 450 years ranging from growers and producers, to retailers, wholesalers and restaurants. Established in 1570, the Guinness Book of Records recognised Thomson Snell & Passmore us as the ‘Oldest law firm in Operation’ and have been providing peace of mind for generations of families and businesses.
Caroline Kings, writer and food blogger, Eat Around Tonbridge – a blog all about encouraging people to support local independent food and drink businesses in and around Tonbridge.
Matthew Sankey, Sankey’s restaurants and fishmongers, Tunbridge Wells & Tonbridge – Sankey’s restaurants and fishmongers are well-known throughout the local area for providing top quality fish and seafood to diners from Tunbridge Wells and beyond.