If ever there was a food mecca, then San Sebastian must be up there in the running to qualify. We are two days in and continue to be amazed and delighted by what we are experiencing. It truly is a food (and drink) lover’s paradise.

La Gintoneria, in Gros, San Sebastian

La Gintoneria, in Gros, San Sebastian

Last night, we tried out a little local gin place I found round the corner from my apartment. It was glamorous and yet quite unassuming sitting there outside the tourist patch with the football on the telly and a wall of big wine glasses. But the frontage belied the contents and we soon found ourselves transported into a whole new world of gin.

These showcase spirit places are popping up all over now as the brands begin to understand the need to connect the drinker with their liquid of choice and I can only assume that this one, opened a year ago, is sponsored by Hendricks. But whoever is behind it, there was the world’s choice of gin here and every accessory to pimp it up into a whole new stratosphere.

Pick a gin, any gin

Pick a gin, any gin

Who knew there were so many gins in the world!

Who knew there were so many gins in the world!

You start by choosing your gin. Now that might sound easy, but with a menu of 80 gins, it can be a little overwhelming. As someone who is not a great expert in this field, I asked for their signature one which turned out to be the French Citadelle. Mr Jones went for one of the four Tanquerays. Now the magic begins.

The gin is poured over the spices

The gin is poured over the spices

For each gin, our beautiful bartender embarked upon an elaborate (and lengthy) process to create the ultimate gin and tonic. To start with, she took a giant goldfish glass that is normally associated with quality wines and placed (with tongs, no less) a selection of fruits, spices and bitters that complement the botanicals in the chosen gin. For the Citadelle, this included star anise, pink grapefruit and juniper. Then came a lovingly poured substantial measure of the gin, followed by a teastrainer ball of dry ice. I am not sure if gin is meant to be served at a very cold temperature, or whether this was all about the magic of the experience, but it certainly felt like gin alchemy as the smoke rose gently up through the glass.

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Then we had the addition of citrus zest, cut directly into the glass, some bitters (cardamom for me) and a huge dollop of giant ice cubes, once again placed with care and precision. To round it off, a splash of tonic, a final flourish of zest to get the citrus oils hovering under your nose and voila! gin and tonic San Sebastian style.

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So was it worth it, I hear you cry? Well, yes actually. We were certainly hooked and as someone who doesn’t exactly drink very much, it really was lovely. Mr Jones went back for more, opting for the peaty Botanist gin made by Scottish Whisky makers and complemented with whisky and lots of orange but I left it at one, supping up every last drop despite the complications of managing those giant ice cubes falling up my nose.

I am sure we will sneak another one in before we leave.

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