Norfolk’s gin makers: 5 festive cocktail recipes

Bullards Gin (photo: Emily Revell)

Bullards Gin (photo: Emily Revell) - Credit: Archant

When it comes to gin, Norfolk is leading the way with a host of award-winning distillers and makers across the county

Visit any shop, from the big supermarkets to the small independents, and the shelves are groaning with a fantastic array of gins promising all sorts of exciting and distinct flavours. But before you stock up for Christmas on the current drink du jour, have a peek at some of these fabulous local gins brimming with a real taste of Norfolk.


There are ambitious plans afoot for Norwich distiller Bullards – with an exciting new project which will not only see its gin production soar, but will eventually offer customers the ultimate gin experience.

Building work is currently underway to install a huge new still in one of Norwich’s best known buildings, Crystal House on Cattle Market Street, with gin production beginning there this month.

“The copper still was hand-made in Stuttgart and was built specifically for this space. We will go from our current 150 litre still to this 600 litre one so we will be able to make a lot more gin,” says Bullards chairman Russell Evans.

“The new still will stand floor to ceiling and anyone walking past will be able to see the gin being made. Bullards has a long history in the city and we want that to continue. The dream is to turn our new distillery into much more than just a place to make and bottle our gin though. We want it to be an attraction in itself.”

Bullards currently makes three different gins at its distillery at The Ten Bells pub and has recently relaunched its bottles to reflect the brands rich heritage. Its latest gin, Old Tom, will join its London Dry and Strawberry and Black Pepper.

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Once gin production starts at the new distillery, work will begin to develop the rest of the building. Bullards has launched a £175,000 crowdfunding initiative to help fund the full renovation of the Grade II listed building with plans to offer tours, tastings and, eventually, a bar and ‘ginstronomy’ restaurant.

Recipe: Bullards Winter Garden

50ml Bullards Old Tom Gin; 50ml apple juice (freshly-pressed is best); 1 tsp of Norfolk honey; 15ml freshly-squeezed lime juice

Shake the Old Tom, apple juice, honey and lime together and strain over ice. Garnish with sliced apple and a stick of cinnamon. Best served in a copa glass or large balloon.


Started by husband and wife team Jason and Nicky Crown, with their son Ethan, the name WhataHoot comes from their life-long love of the barn owls which inhabit the skies in Norfolk. The idea was reinforced when the family stumbled upon the home for their business – a traditional barn formerly inhabited by owls on the Sandringham Estate. They wanted to create a product firmly rooted in Norfolk, so their dry gin has hints of local lavender and samphire.

Recipe: Whatahoot Berry

50ml Whatahoot Dry Gin; 150ml cranberry juice; 10ml lemon juice; ice; fresh cranberries; mint leaves; tumbler-style gin glass

Add the gin, cranberry juice and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker, shake well and pour liquids into a tumbler over ice and garnish with fresh cranberries and a sprig of mint... Enjoy

St Giles

All of the gin at St Giles is made, bottled and labelled on its Norwich site so it is a real local hand-crafted product. Its first gin only launched 18 months ago, but the team has already won four international awards. With their subtle depth of flavour, St Giles gins make an excellent base for cocktails – here is their Christmas cracker.

Recipe: 50ml St Giles Gin; 25ml sugar syrup

Top with cranberry juice and a splash of soda water. Add ice, a slice of orange and a stick of cinnamon.

Archangel Gin

Archangel Gin is distilled in the heart of Norfolk, just yards from St Peter’s Church at Dunton near Fakenham, and the county’s rich ecclesiastical history is very much reflected in the gin-makers’ work. It is made entirely in Norfolk on a working farm, with a focus on using the best of local produce. Its signature gin is rich, full-bodied, with 13 botanicals including juniper, sea buckthorn and angelica.

Recipe: Archangel Christmas cocktail

50ml Archangel Gin; 25ml Campari; 75ml fresh orange and lemon juice in equal measures; 2 tsps of Peruvian marmalade – classic Seville works too; a dash of Angostura Orange Bitters

Add the gin, Campari, lemon and orange juices and the marmalade to a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice. Shake vigorously until icy cold, serve in classic cocktail glasses, then add a dash or two of the orange bitters.


OakVilla distillery, based in Wymondham, might be new to the gin world, but it is already winning plenty of fans. Owners Lindi and Shaun Hancke are from South Africa, and their first gin, Vryheid, takes its name for the Afrikaans word for freedom. It is a full-bodied gin featuring poppy and elderflower from Norfolk. They are launching a second gin this month – perfect for Christmas. Vryheid botanicals flavours are released particularly well after the gin is chilled in a deep freeze – just like in this recipe.

Recipe: A Norfolk Rose

42ml OakVilla Vryheid gin; 21ml Apricot brandy liqueur (De Kuyper works well); 21ml dry vermouth (Noilly Prat Original Dry); 5ml grenadine; 2.5ml lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker or mason jar, and give a good shake. Place in the deep freeze for a minimum of 30 minutes. It can be prepared beforehand and remain in the deep freeze until required. Remove from freezer, shake for 15 seconds and serve in a sugar-rimmed Martini glass, garnished with glacé cherries.


Gin good company

Here is a selection of other gins made with love in Norfolk

Norfolk Gin

One of the most recognisable local gins thanks to its unusual earthenware bottle and very distinct taste is Norfolk Gin. This unique tasting spirit has a rich cardamom flavour which has made it a firm favourite.

Black Shuck

Black Shuck, set up by husband and wife team Patrick and Sarah Saunders following a bumper harvest of their sloes, now has a range of distinct spirits, including the premium Black Shuck Gin, which features Norfolk’s own Lavender and Sea Buckthorn. But it’s Christmas – so a glass of their original sloe gin is a must!

Twelve Keys

This elegant gin is new to the market and combines twelve carefully chosen botanicals – but it is the rich honey from the Norfolk wildflower meadow on its doorstep which gives it a distinctly local flavour.

Boadicea Gin

Boadicea gin is created from the finest Norfolk barley with a mix of botanicals which includes nettles – a nod to the Iceni.

As well as its original London dry gin it also makes a special winter gin, distilled using cranberries and winter spice – perfect by the fire.