REVIEW | A Ride on The Gin Express in West Yorkshire
Public transport and I haven’t always been best friends. Catching the “571” bus service to Brighouse everyday will see to that. My under 18s travel pass went straight out of the window (literally) when I passed my driving test and I kissed goodbye to loitering around at bus stops and in train stations almost 15 years ago. I have however always been fond of a good gin. Especially over the last few years with the rise of flavoured gins and fancy tonics. Gin bars and gin festivals have been popping up everywhere and it’s now considered the most popular spirit of choice in the UK – and in my house.
So, when I saw that Bronte Bars and Events were hosting “Gin Express Experiences” my eyes lit up and I thought that sounded like a bit of me and I should further investigate – for research purposes obviously. My initial thoughts on public transport were immediately quashed when I saw where the Gin Experience would be held – on the famous Keighley and Worth Valley heritage steam railway line. The Pullman’s First Class carriage is not your bog standard train. It’s a nostalgic delight and for the first time in my life I was bouncing about on the platform desperate to hop on board.
As soon as you enter the carriage you’re greeted by your host for the journey and are shown to your luxurious seats before a prompt departure. The train sets off from Oxenhope station and you make a return journey to Keighley taking in the sights and sounds of Bronte country as you go.
My best friend Sarah and I had ditched our kids (and husbands) for the day and could barely contain ourselves when we saw the menu – 4 exclusive small batch gins served with an array of tonics and garnishes – not a meal deal in sight. The beauty of this experience is that all the drinks are served straight to your table – no elbowing and queuing to get served up in First Class – and with each one you’re given a run down on what you’re about to sample by the very knowledgeable and friendly staff. We tried winter fruits gin liqueur, crag and tail gin, blueberry Harrogate gin and a Kintyre pink gin. Never mind being transported back the golden age of steam, Sarah and I felt like we were back at uni sipping 43% alcohol at 11:45am without a care in the world! My favourite was the winter fruit one which was served neat – go hard or go home. The service was top notch and the drinks were brought to you with enough time in between to really enjoy the experience and feel fully relaxed.
The journey lasts about 1hr 15mins but the day rover ticket you get allows you to jump on and off the train for the rest of the day. And you have access to the Jubilee ‘Gin Bar’ all day too where you’re able to buy and sample gins at a discounted rate. Before we pulled back into the station we were given our goodie bags. I love a goodie bag and this one didn’t disappoint. We got an exclusive gin glass and “cocktail in a bag” kit complete with sloe gin, ginger ale and they’d even thrown in the lime!
We decided to stay on board and take the very short ride to the picturesque village of Haworth which is well worth a visit for a bite to eat and a mosey around the shops. It’s very quaint and although the cobbled streets made for an interesting walk/stagger after our drinking session we got up the hill and went straight into a lovely cafe for a late lunch. We made a beeline for the old fashioned sweet shop, the Cabinet of Curiosities and had a good couple of hours before we realised we had a train to catch and needed to get back down that hill pretty damn quick to get back to Oxenhope. Long story short we missed it. Lessons we learned in train travel – check the timetable, use your watch and don’t stand on the bridge waving off the passengers of the train you’re supposed to be on. Luckily we still had that warm fuzzy drunk feeling from earlier and nothing was going to dampen our day!
It is a first class trip out from start to finish and it’s a fantastic and unique way to spend a few hours with friends. Not only that, it’s a bloody good deal! The ‘Gin Express’ costs £50pp but when you break it down to what you’re getting its great value. The day rover ticket alone would be £18 and then you get four quality gins, an exclusive glass, goodie bag plus the super service, gin bar access and the luxury of being in the Pullman carriage. Keep your eyes peeled at www.brontebarsevents.co.uk to see when the upcoming dates are for the next Gin Express Experience – you won’t want to miss it!
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