Last weekend we bid farewell to dry January in style as we hosted a lovely group of Donegal friends on our first ‘Donegal Gin Trail’ of 2019. The group were celebrating some birthdays and what better way to celebrate than a Gin Trail!
We kicked things off in the early afternoon with a cookery demo at The Lemon Tree Restaurant with the super talented Chef and Failte Ireland’s Irish food champion Chris Molloy. Chris prepared Haddock lollipops with truffle mayo, fresh bread with pate and raisin puree, followed by mini cottage pies using beef cheek , vegetables and potato mousse with a herb powder.
Deirdre Byrne from An Dulaman Gin served the first Donegal gin of the trail, speaking briefly about the history of alcohol production in Donegal and their innovative work at Sliabh Liag Distillery. The final touch? A delicious An Dulaman Gin Cheesecake for all before getting back on the bus.
It wasn’t long until we were driving into the leafy estate of Castle Grove Country House Hotel. On arrival we were greeted by the team serving an exclusive Castle Grove strawberry gin cocktail, allowing our guests to soak up the sea views and take pictures together under the winter sun.
Inside the Yellow Drawing Room the group finished their drinks in front of the blazing log fire while Irene explained that with an abundance of strawberries in the estate’s walled garden, it made sense to make a strawberry infused gin. “It was going to be either gin or jam”, she quipped. We all agreed the gin was the much better option. Before leaving the group enjoyed some Gin & Tonic inspired cupcakes from Mae & Co, a family run bakery in the nearby heritage village of Ramelton. A special treat for the birthday girls!
The day was off to a fantastic start with two amazing venues and everyone excited for stop number three. After a scenic trip along Mulroy Bay, admiring the snow capped hills of Donegal, we stopped at The Olde Glen Bar – one of the oldest pubs in Donegal. They also have their very own gin, so it’s always a must on our tours. Owner Aengus Haughey greeted our group with another fabulous open fire and Glen Bar Gins all around garnished with orange peels and cinnamon sticks.
Second last stop of the day was a short 5 minute drive back into the seaside village of Carraigart to the popular Goose & Gander Pizzeria, housed behind Logue’s Bar. After an afternoon of local gin stops, freshly baked artisan pizza from the wood fired oven was a total winner with our group. Inside the cosy renovated barn, owner Chris Healy prepared Mor Irish Gin – scenting the glass with rosemary before serving it with Poachers citrus tonic and orange peel.
As darkness fell on this crisp winter evening, we travelled back along Mulroy Bay to the village of Kilmacrennan. On board the bus we gifted each guest with some Mallow Mia Gin and Lemon gourmet marshmallows, another homemade Donegal product. There was a general consensus that these were indeed little clouds of heaven!
On arrival at Nora’s Bar in Kilmacrennan we met the charismatic Niall from Muff Liquor, another popular Donegal gin, and the bar’s manager Aaron for our final tasting of the day. After introducing the brand and the gin, Niall served the award-winning Muff Liquor with Fever Tree tonic and joked about the company’s latest media coverage on-air with BBC DJ Scott Mills.
Before we knew it our time had come to return to Letterkenny. We had a wonderful day hosting this fun loving group, meeting many fantastic Donegal food providers and tasting some delicious Donegal produce. Check out the link below to book your place on our next Donegal Gin Trail or get a group of friends, family or co workers together and enjoy your very own private tour for 10 or more guests! https://donegalfoodtours.com/tour/?id=51
*Please remember that tour routes vary slightly from season to season depending on venue and producer availability.