BALEARIC ISLAND TOUR WITH GIN MARE
A TRIP TO MALLORCA, IBIZA AND FORMENTERA WITH ONE OF THE HIGHEST QUALITY GINS AVAILABLE
Photography by Hazel Paterson
A proper gin and tonic has to be one of my all-time favourites and is always my go-to drink in a bar. With gin having become one the most popular spirits in recent years, how could I refuse an offer to go on a 'gin tour'?! Not only was it an opportunity to increase my limited knowledge of the essence of gin but it was also a chance to take a trip to Mallorca, Ibiza and Formentera with the truly delicious Gin Mare. Honestly one of the highest quality gins available in my opinion.
The first day of the Balearic Island tour was an early flight to Mallorca's capital, Palma, where we were immediately taken to sample some of the city’s top seafood. Gigantic platters of crab, razor clams, mussels, prawns and other varieties of deliciously fresh crustaceans were served up first, followed by huge portions of traditional black rice and paella. A superb start to a packed trip.
It was then a short drive to the salt flats of Es Trenc. It is here, in the unique pale pink salt pans, that the delightful Flor De Sal is produced and distributed to top restaurants all over the world. With the Mallorca sun streaming down, it is no wonder that this is an ideal place to produce the completely natural and pure salt crystals. It was clear a huge amount of effort is put into creating this high-quality condiment and it was a beautiful place to have our first proper Gin Mare gin & tonic. A sprig of rosemary, a couple of bashed basils leaves and a pinch of Flor De Sal stirred into the glistening Gin Mare glass, proved to be the perfect remedy to a whirlwind day.
The day ended with a flight to our next destination, Ibiza, where we were driven to north of the island to Na Xamena to stay in Vila Mare. With everyone feeling a little lethargic from the early morning flight, we were all looking forward to settling down in our villa. As we drove up the steep climbs of the north of the island, I did have an image of what I may expect but when the doors were opened to our abode, I was completely and utterly speechless. It was beyond my expectations. Perfectly timed, we arrived just as the sun was setting. The panoramic views were like something I had never seen and I felt completely and utterly spoilt. With the evening closing in, it was certainly tempting to dive into the pool, however an ice-cold Gin Mare seemed far more appealing. With the villa's own Gin Mare drinks trolley adorned with fresh herbs, lemons and 1724 tonic, I realised this was how every gin cocktail should be served.
Day Two started off with a Gin Mare Espresso Flip (created by our mixologist, Stuart Bale) which consists of gin, sugar syrup, a whole egg, and a shot of espresso. How else is one to start a 'gin tour' day? We then headed into the old town of Ibiza with our personal chef, Eva Hausmann, who took us around the central food market, course by course. She showed us a stunning array of freshly caught fish and explained the importance of how to choose the freshest available. On from the fish we moved to prime cuts of meat, aromatic herbs and salads, finishing with a whole tart of Flaó (a traditional Catalan pastry). This was all to be prepared back at the house. Whilst the local Ibicencans went about their daily routine, we all stood there in awe at various produce we had never seen before, whilst wishing we could stay there for hours sampling the Spanish delicacies.
Back at the house we were greeted with ice-cold Islena beers by the pool as we readied ourselves for a lesson in how to master the impressive £20,000 Josper oven. Along with this Eva explained the recipes for our freshly bought food from the market which was served up for lunch in a comparably Michelin star manner. The afternoon was spent relaxing by the pool, discussing and sharing other gin concoctions with our mixologist whilst taking in the views for a final evening. As the sun began its descent, the unique blue bottles of Gin Mare started to shimmer in their bespoke lanterns, which called the time to get ready and hit the town. We were taken to a restaurant which will forever remain on my list of my most memorable experiences.
Heart was founded by none other than the world famous Adrià brothers, Ferran and Albert, and the creator of Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberté. As we walked through the door to be personally greeted by Ferran Adrià, it was instantly clear that this was a place where anything goes. Waiters doing handstands in the corridors and maids dusting you down with feathers as you enter, and this was before the show had even started. I don’t want to ruin it by revealing all of Heart’s secrets, however if you are ever lucky enough to pay a visit, be prepared for all your senses to be awakened. We must have tasted over and around 20 courses of indescribable treats where food had to be tweezed out of a giant tusk, oysters served in an ice-cold bath (accompanied by a merman) and popcorn flavoured candy floss stuffed into your mouth by a candy striper. Every waiter and waitress were a part of the whole performance along with entertainment from a live band and a beautiful show from a variety of acrobats and contortionists. Once everyone had finished their meal all the staff, including the chefs, ran out of the kitchen to join us in the restaurant which had rapidly been cleared and transformed into an exclusive club. Music pumping and Gin Mare flowing, a late-night party was certainly on the cards.
Our third day, feeling slightly fragile from the excitement of the night before and perhaps a few too many gin & tonics, we took a trip into Ibiza to jump aboard our private boat and sail off to the final island of the tour; Formentera. If you haven't been to this Mediterranean island, you really must. It is a very special place with the sea turning an azur colour like nowhere else. With Fomentera made up of a cluster of different islands, we zipped around from shore to shore snorkeling, swimming and even walking through the sea! For lunch we visited the well-known Es Moli de Sal restaurant where we tried more delicious paella, crispy squid and freshly homemade ice-cream. And of course, another perfectly complimenting Gin Mare cocktail. After lunch, it was time to relax on the boat, soak up the sun and sip on more classic gin & tonics. We felt a million miles from the hustle and bustle of London (it might have had something to do with the gin) and I didn’t want to leave. At around 6pm it felt like the perfect time to drop the anchor alongside the other sunset-chasers on their multi-million pound yachts to watch yet another spectacular performance of the sun dropping over the horizon. Horns blowing, glasses raised and “cheers” echoing across the bay, it was sadly time to head back to mainland Ibiza, say farewell to our incredibly generous hosts and wing our way back to London.
I must say, even though it was a non-stop weekend, it really was a trip to top any. My eyes were fully opened to the beauty of the Balearic Islands and of course the delicious taste of Gin Mare. It really is unique in its flavour, with the distinctive botanical notes of basil, thyme and rosemary, along with one of their prime ingredients; the Arbequina olive. And with its name, it is the ideal spirit to consume on an island tour. I certainly learnt how important it is to take time when it comes to creating the perfect gin and tonic and it’s clear with Gin Mare, whose recipe has been passed down the generations of a single family, their time spent in achieving the perfect gin has been well-spent and a huge success.