Corks were popped and gin glugged from its bottles at the first Henley Gin and Fizz Festival on Saturday at Henley Rugby Club. The event saw 5 local gin producers and 5 vineyards including Henley’s Mr Hobbs Gin and the Fairmile Vineyard showcase their drinks.
Nicola Taylor who is a volunteer at the Henley Toad Patrol was keen to have a taste of the TOAD (The Oxford Artisan Distillery) gin. She said, “It’s great to finally have a TOAD gin and tonic after tweeting them about the Toad Patrol. It’s a nice drink to celebrate the end of this year’s season of volunteering.”
The festival was part of the Ladies Day match which saw the Hawks beat the Guernsey Raiders 60-28 and the Hawks mascot come out of hiding after being away for a while thanks to sponsors GD Evans Interiors. At the sold-out lunch beforehand, Rob Heginbotham and Tony Hobbs were presented with their special 100 caps hats which the club has recently started to present. Tony Hobbs, who re-founded the club in 1954, aged just 21 at the time said, “Back in 1954, the ground was previously an army camp during the war and then they demolished the camp and we started the club here and got the lease on the ground from the Council. I am absolutely flabbergasted to be presented with this cap, it was a complete surprise – I had no idea and I’m overcome.”
Jan from the Fairmile Vineyard said, “We were delighted to see so many people at the Gin & Fizz Festival, including many familiar faces who have become regular customers of Fairmile Vineyard! I think that Henley is making its presence felt, not just as a beautiful destination for tourism, but as a showcase for high quality foods and drinks produced locally.”
Suzy Hobbs from Mr Hobbs Gin added, “It was great to be a part of the Gin & Fizz Festival on Saturday. It was a fantastic local event and always good to see so many people turn out to support the Club. We have lots of excellent local producers that collectively provide a really strong offering for our region and great to see us come together for this event.”
The Red Dreamers (Lorraine Gauntlet and Ade Webb) a jazz duo kept the guests entertained with jazz from the era of greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and Nina Simone. The Happy Gurka provided guests with their delicious and authentic Nepalese chicken, lamb and vegetarian curries and Menza Cafe provided a fantastic assortment of cakes and biscuits.
Alistair Benyon, Commercial Manager at the Rugby Club said, “We were delighted to see so many people come down and enjoy the first Gin & Fizz Festival at the Club. A big thank you to everyone who supported the event, and to all the local suppliers for coming down and showcasing their wonderful produce. We’re looking forward to building on this for next year!”