The Gin to My Tonic – Gin Brunch in Cardiff

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few years, chances are you will have noticed that Gin is very much in style.  From Gin distillery tours to Gin tastings and even Gin and tonic tea bags – Gin is undeniably a firm favourite.

House 21 Cardiff Bloggers Gin and Juice fresh pressed juice
Brunch: Fresh Pressed Juices – Kiwi Kickstart Apple, Cucumber, Kiwi, Pear, Lime & Wheatgrass

Personally, I don’t get it.  It’s not the tipple for me, it is too dry for my tastes.  My mother thinks it is brilliant that she can now get her hands on so many different varieties, even though she is a Bombay Sapphire girl through and through.  She eagerly tells ‘youngsters’ in pubs or at the bar that she has been in fashion since 1977, as it has always been her drink of choice.

From being known as mother’s ruin to a modern tipple, the UK has rediscovered Gin in a big way.  There are now over 100 gin-makers in the nation compared to just 37 in 2010.  It has even been labelled by the media as a “Gin Epidemic” as more than a whopping 66 million bottles of Gin were sold in the UK in 2018.

House 21 Gin and Juice decor
Decor at Gin and Juice in Cardiff using empty gin bottles with fresh cut flowers

The original ‘Gin Craze’ was during the Victorian era, and its bad reputation was where the phrase ‘mother’s ruin’ came from.  If you have seen Peaky Blinders, Gin, its side effects and the underworld of smuggling gives you a taste of how the era was.  These days, however, it is portrayed as an effortlessly cool, sophisticated drink of choice.  Even The Queen is a keen Gin fan and has been spotted many times drinking the spirit.

Gin and Juice Cardiff

A few weeks ago I attended a Bloggers Brunch with House 21 at Gin and Juice in Cardiff.  The pictures I took that day are dotted through this blog.  It opened in December 2017 and is based in the Castle Arcade near Cardiff Castle.  By day it runs as a café serving with Instagrammable brunch bowls, pressed fruit juices and smoothies and fresh coffee, but by night it transforms into a Gin palace offering over 350 different types served with different mixers or as a cocktail.  I do not envy the Gin fans visiting, picking a tipple or two from the extensive list must be very hard.

For me, my visit was all about the food.  Did it taste as good as it looked?  On arrival at the Gin and Juice event, I was greeted with rows of juices to choose from.  I hate making the wrong decision when it comes to food and drink, and I often do allowing my head rule over my heart.  I choose the Strawberry Dreams, which consisted of apple, pineapple, raspberry, strawberry and rosehip.  Good choice!

House 21 Cardiff Bloggers
Outside Gin and Juice Cardiff with the House 21 team and Cardiff Bloggers. I am in the middle at the back.

I also go to choose a smoothie bowl, my eyes were drawn to the Pineapple and Passion Fruit, which was beautiful to look at and tasty too.  It also contained coconut milk, avocado, raspberries, banana, granola, coconut and chia seeds.  Other creations include Chocolate and Banana, Blueberry and Avocado, Strawberry and Banana.

If that was not enough, I also got to try one of the bagels.  Carbs at breakfast – yes, please?!  During the talks from the incredible speakers, House 21 introduced us too, including Katie the founder of Business Wonderland and Shakira from Turned Up Fitness, I could smell the fresh bread being baked.  When they were brought out, all of the plates gave me food envy.  Stacked bagels with Avocado and Poached Egg with tomatoes, Banana and Peanut Butter with chia seeds, blueberries and Raspberries or my choice of Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese with cucumber and red onion were delivered to the tables.

House 21 Gin and Juice Cardiff Smoothie bow and juice
Brunch: Smoothie Bowls all Served With Granola, Coconut & Chia Seeds – Pineapple & Passion Fruit with Coconut Milk, Avocado, Raspberries & Banana

The food and drinks are matched to the intimate arty, homely, kitsch atmosphere.  Like many of the establishments in Cardiff’s City of Arcades, it is long and narrow.  Its wooden layout and patterned wall tiles pays homage to the Victorian era when it was built but with modern twists, with the elegant poser tables and velvet sofas making it feel old, modern and homely at the same time.

House 21 Cardiff Bloggers Gin and Juice fresh pressed juice and bagel
Brunch: Bagels, you can choose From Plain, Sesame Seed or Multigrain – Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese with Cucumber & Red Onion and a Fresh Pressed Juice of Vitamin C Bodyguard – Grapefruit, Lime, Pineapple, Clementine & Rosehip

Cardiff Gin and Juice is open every day of the week; Monday – Saturday 8.30am-1am and on Sundays between 9.30am-11pm and can be found 2-6 Castle Arcade, High Street, Cardiff a 2-minute walk from Cardiff Castle.  I think you will be more likely to find me next door in their sister bar Rum and Fizz.

House 21 Gin and Juice Cardiff Seating Area
Found in Castle Arcade on the High Street in Cardiff this is one of the cosy seating areas in Gin and Juice. You can see their sister bar, Rum and Fizz through the window.

Did you know Gin is vegan?

Virtually every brand of hard liquor; Bourbon, Whiskey, Vodka, Gin, and Rum are vegan. Nearly all distilled spirits are vegan except for cream-based liqueurs. Some products do mention honey on the label, which some vegans will not drink, so it is always best to check.

House 21 Gin and Juice Cardiff Smoothie bowl
Brunch: Instagrammable Smoothie Bowls all served with Granola, Coconut and Chia Seeds – Chocolate & Banana with Almond Milk, Dates, Raspberries & Blueberries

Is Gin gluten-free?

Although most experts say Gin, which typically is made from a mix of grains that can include wheat, barley, and rye, is gluten-free because it’s distilled, many people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity nonetheless react to Gin.

House 21 Gin and Juice fresh pressed juice
Fresh Pressed Juice – Strawberry Dreams Apple, Pineapple, Raspberry, Strawberry & Rosehip

What are the calories in Gin?

Unlike calorific beer (they don’t call it a beer belly for nothing!), Gin is surprisingly low in calories. A shot of Gin has an average of 72 calories, and given the fact that Gin typically has no less than 37% alcohol ABV – you can get quite merry on Gin without having to sacrifice your diet or healthy lifestyle.

House 21 Gin and Juice Cardiff
The bar at Gin and Juice Cardiff

Is there a Welsh Gin?

There certainly is, and a whole heap of them to be discovered;

Aber Falls produces a range of premium Welsh gins using Welsh inspired botanicals.  Bottles include Small Batch, Rhubarb and Ginger, Orange Marmalade and Welsh Dry.

The Dyfi Distillery, a small award-winning premium producer, is made using wild foraged botanicals and is the winner of the ‘Best UK Gin’ in the Great British Food Awards 2017 and 2018.

Eccentric Gin is made in Caerphilly.  Bottles include Dewi Sant – St David, Pembrokeshire Pinky, Violet Gin, Cardiff Dry, Young Tom and Limbeck.

Penderyn Distillery is known for its Whiskeys (and I love their Vodka 5), but their Brecon Gin is one of the most famous local batches using water from the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Juniper-y Jin Talog is the product of fun, time and experimentation.  The signature gin gives a big juniper ‘hit’ and is ideal neat, with tonic or in a cocktail.

Dà Mhìle was established as Wales’ first craft distillery in rural West Wales and makes a wide variety of organic spirits and liqueurs including Oak Aged, Botanical, Seaweed and Sloe Gin.

Foragers is a small range of premium gin: the world’s first limited-release range. Flavours derived from the finest freshly foraged botanicals and waters that flow from the hills of Snowdonia.

Cariad Gin from the Clywydian Range Distillery is handcrafted in the valleys of Halkyn Mountain in North Wales

Gower Gin Company is multi-award winning, and all of the gins are designed around the flavours found on the Gower and in Wales.

Dinorwig Distillery is found on a mountainside beneath slate quarries, looking out towards Snowdonia.  The Gins capture the essence of Dinorwig flora.

Merywen Gin from the North Star Distillery is made in extremely small batches using local botanicals, influences and inspiration.

Benjamin Hall Gin from the Hensol Castle Distillery is probably the most exciting one on the list.  The bottles are currently being sold wholesale to hotels, restaurants and pubs, and they have already won awards.  The distillery for visitor experiences and a gin school in Autumn 2019.


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