The Romantic Rose-Berry Cocktail ft Pinkster Gin (*)

A bottle fit For Valentine’s Day!

Pinkster gin is the latest bottle to be added to my vastly growing gin collection and I’ve been lucky enough to be gifted one of their limited edition ‘Let the love beGIN’ bottles!

It’s an agreeable British Gin that packs a lot of character. At first glance you’d think that they’d purposely packaged everything up to box it off as a pink gin but there’s more to the story than that.

Pinkster was created by Stephen Marsh who began creating his own gin after contacting a yeast allergy which meant he could no longer indulge in his favourite tipple – wine. A keen maker of sloe liqueurs, he turned his attention to spirits and started experimenting at home. Stephen tried and tested large amounts of assorted fruits and spirit strengths and discovered that raspberries delivered the best flavour and unintentionally creating a pink gin.

In 2014 founder Stephen Marsh approached Charles Maxwell (a man who has created hundreds of gins over 30 years from Thames Distillers) to collaborate on another gin. This time it would be infused with raspberries as a signature botanical and keeping juniper strongly present. In 2014 Pinkster switched distillers to scale up and use the traditional method of the copper pots from the distillery that also produce BLOOM and Ophir.  

The gin itself is made up of 5 botanicals but only 3 of which known: juniper, raspberry and black peppercorn. The gin has a dry but fruity flavour with the leading taste of juniper and a smooth jammy finish of raspberries. The great thing about Pinkster gin is nothing goes to waste and the raspberries that are used to create the gin are popped into jars and labelled ‘Boozy Berries’ to pimp your prosecco, add to cakes or dip into chocolate!

When creating a cocktail for Pinkster I wanted to make something that would complement the leading notes of juniper and pull through that smoothness of the raspberries. Of course it’s Valentine’s Day coming up so roses instantly come to mind and therefor I created the Romantic Rose-Berry Gin Cocktail.

The Romantic Rose-Berry Cocktail Recipe: 

50ml Pinkster gin
25ml – Rose syrup
5 – Fresh raspberries
2 – Cubes of ice
Top with Tonic
Garnish with edible rose petals

Add 50ml of Pinkster gin and 25ml rose syrup into a cocktail shaker

Add 5 raspberries and 2 cubes of ice

Shake until the cocktail shaker becomes misty

Pour through a strainer into a glass (preferably a balloon glass)

Top with Fever Tree tonic and add a few edible rose petals as garnish

This is the perfect romantic cocktail for Valentine’s Day but it tastes incredible too! If you love the flavours of a sweet Turkish delight with a twist (sharp, pine flavours of juniper) then you’ll love this as much as I do!

Beki Xo

(*) Disclaimer: As part of this post I was gifted the Pinkster Gin however the cocktail recipe and all opinions are my own
The Blueberry Gin Fizz Cocktail Recipe ft Slingsby Gin (*)

Ah, would you just look at that bottle!

Slingsby is named after William Slingsby, an English adventurer who discovered the valuable properties of the water from a well in Harrogate in 1571. The well opened the town up to become a place of leisure and restoration, bringing it back to life.   

From this Spirit of Harrogate wanted to create a gin that would celebrate the heritage using the water and botanicals grown in that area.

The gin itself contains 24 botanicals that are locally sourced by Taylors of of Harrogate and Rudding Park. Botanicals such as green and jasmine tea, severn sea rosemary, citrus thyme, rhubarb, hyssop, primrose, sweet cicely and moorland heather to name but a few! Other botanical contained in the gin are rose hip, angelica, cassia, orris roots, coriander, liquorice, grapefruit and Madagascan juniper however these are sourced internationally to get the best of the best!

So the taste test: The gin itself has a fresh taste with citrus notes and a herbal twang. The rhubarb offers a sweet taste, whilst the thyme and rosemary create a herbal garden finish, rounded off with the dominating notes of juniper. So to simplify, it’s like sipping a fresh glass of grapefruit juice whilst eating a rhubarb crumble in a classic English country garden. My kind of gin if you ask me!

So when I was trying to create a cocktail I wanted something that would complement the soft fruity taste but also pull through those herbs without overpowering the actual taste of the gin! And so I came up with the Blueberry Gin Fizz!

Blueberry Gin Fizz Cocktail Recipe: 

40ml Slingsby gin
40ml Blueberry syrup (equal sugar to water + blueberries)
1 sprig – thyme
2 blueberries – to garnish
Top up – with Prosecco (or champagne)

So to make the blueberry syrup you simply mix half a cup of water with half a cup of sugar and half a cup of blueberries! Boil until thick and leave to cool.

Add 40ml of Slingsy gin to a flute

Add 40ml of blueberry syrup  and stir

Top with prosecco or champagne

And garnish with blueberries and thyme

This is such an easy cocktail to make and you can keep the tasty blueberry syrup for other things like pouring over ice cream, pancakes or to pimp up your prosecco!

Beki Xo

(*) As part of this review I was gifted the Slingsby gin in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and recipe are my own.
Luxury Makeup: Where Does Your Money Go?

A few weeks ago I received a surprise parcel in the post from a brand called Beauty Pie. At first glance the make-up looked like a high end luxury brand but as I opened the booklet there was a little more to it…

What is Beauty Pie?

Beauty Pie is an online community which allows those who love high priced makeup to get it at factory prices. That means the typical £20 lipstick is only £2.24. What’s the catch? Apparently there is none. Beauty Pie have simply found a way to cut out the middle man, allowing you to buy direct from the factories that also supply the majority of make-up of high end luxury makeup. So no longer are you paying someone to design the packaging, market the product, package it and then store it in the warehouse, you’re buying it straight from the factory.

So to give you an idea of what you are paying when you purchase that £20 lipstick for £2.24; £1.61 product and packaging, 8p on safety and testing, 17p on warehousing plus £0.38 VAT and a little on posting.

Seems too good to be true right? But apparently, it’s not!

Beauty Pie vs Luxury Brands

I do love the idea that I’m paying a fraction of the price for a luxury lipstick but there’s just something missing. I’m all about high street makeup however If I want to ‘treat’ myself there’s something exciting about visiting a beauty counter, having the item wrapped up in branded tissue paper, popped into a bag and sealed with a sticker. It feels much more luxurious and more of a ‘treat’. But I suppose if you buy luxury make-up on a regular basis, maybe that doesn’t bother you?

What's great about Beauty Pie? 

Beauty Pie are fragrance and cruelty free, their packaging is lightweight as they’re trying to make it as eco-friendly as possible with plant based inks and recyclable plastic. So not only are they saving you money they’re also saving the planet. But what are the actual products like? It’s funny because knowing that these products could be a high end dupe, I was a little more scrupulous when ‘reviewing’ them.

Beauty Pie Product Review

The ‘One Powder Wonder’ is very finely milled, applies like a dream and leaves a matt-dewy finish similar to my £15 powder but you can grab the £26 powder for just £3.68 on Beauty Pie (I know, I was just as surprised too!). The lipstick and lip glosses had a very similar formula to my high end lip products, really smooth and moisturising and would definitely be more expensive than a handful of change. The foundation was a little harder to compare as it’s a little too light, sheer and dewy for me but I’ve read that it has a very similar formula to the Chanel Luminous foundation. For just less than £5 you can definitely tell it’s not a ‘cheap’ formula, it doesn’t have that acrylic scent and it sinks into the skin better than some popular high street brands.

Where does your money go when buying luxury beauty products?

Packaging aside it does make you wonder if luxury brands do have higher quality ingredients than cheaper alternatives or just a higher mark up because of the marketing and product design? Yes, high end brands have more money to spend on advanced technology to select ingredients that some high street brands may need to remove to fit the budget however does that account for the hefty price tag?

If Beauty Pie can provide you with higher quality beauty products for less money just by skipping the middle man, how much money is really going into the production and how much is going into the brands back pocket?

Higher price tag does not mean higher ethical standards 

Another thing to remember is that a higher price tag does not mean higher ethical standards. A lot of high end makeup brands tend to import their products as it’s incredibly cheaper to get it made outside of the EU. Why? Because they have a lower legal minimum wage for workers in Asia, (for example) than the EU. Not only that but a lot of high end brands (sadly) aren’t cruelty free and do test on animals.

Food for thought

So if there’s one thing that Beauty Pie has given me (aside from being able to purchase a luxury £20 lipstick for £2.24 or a £30 foundation for £4.88) it’s food for thought about where my money is actually going when I purchase my beauty products.

Beki Xo

(*) As part of this post I was gifted the Beauty Pie makeup however I was not asked to publish my thoughts in a blog post and all opinions are my own

The Gin Blush Cocktail Recipe ft Copeland Gin (*)

I know exactly what you're thinking, this looks incredible right?!

Copeland Gin Raspberry and Mint is the latest to be added to my forever growing gin collection. For those of you who are familiar with Crowd Funder, this handcrafted gin fusion was created in a small rural town in Northern Ireland using local produce and crowd funded in 56 days by 383 supporters. There's just something about supporting and buying from an independent who also supports local farmers that makes this gin stand out from the rest. 

The gin itself is 37.8% proof which means not only does it make a damn good G&T but it also works perfectly in cocktails. Being a big gin enthusiast I love my gin to taste, well, like gin and Gareth (the founder) couldn't of created anything more fitting. Although the spirit has fruity and fresh flavours of raspberry and mint, it compliments rather than covers the aromatic notes of juniper. So although the unique colour of the gin makes it look a little like a liquor, it doesn't really come close and anyone who loves the taste of gin will fall head of heels (after a few too many) for it.

When creating the cocktail I wanting something that would enhance the flavours as well as compliment them so I chose to add what was already there and throw in a splash of something extra. If you like fresh, fruity and floral cocktails, you'll love this...

The Gin Blush Cocktail Recipe: 

60ml - Copeland Gin Raspberry and Mint
4 large - Raspberries
1 Sprig - Mint
1 Handful - crushed or smashed ice 
Top with Elderflower soda

Using a balloon glass (or a tall glass) muddle 3 large raspberries 3 mint leaves

Add the smashed or crushed ice 

Pour over 50ml of Copeland Gin Raspberry and Mint

Top with elderflower soda and stir 

Garnish with 1 raspberry and a the left over sprig of mint

This would make the ultimate summer cocktail but it's also perfect if you're after something a little fresh and fruity.

I can honestly say that Copeland Gin is in my Top 5 gins and quite possibly running into first place! They also have a Rhuberry Gin (rhubarb and blackberry) which would not only make another incredible G&T but I'm also thinking...pimp my prosecco! Will definitely be purchasing this as my next month's gin.

Beki Xo

(*) As part of this blog was I was gifted the Copeland Gin in return for a review. However all opinions are my own as well as the cocktail recipe.

Beauty Debate: My £114 vs £40 Skincare Routine :

There's always been competition between high end skincare products and the high street. Some people believe 'you get what you pay for' whilst others think higher end products are simply marked up because of the brand name.

If you weren't aware, some high street brands are owned by larger high end brands. For example Bourjois own Chanel (yes it's that way round!), Estee Laudre own Michael Kors Beauty and Clinique, and then there's L'Oreal whom own ALOT of the market such Lancome, Maybelline, Georgia Armani, Garnier and Kiehls.  

Which makes you wonder... are you paying for the brand?

When it comes to skincare I'd never say that you get what you pay for, it's all about which brand do what product the best. So when it comes to my beauty routine, yes I do mix and match with cheaper and higher priced products but If i were to split them into purse savers and purse splurges, which would be my favourite?   

Splurge Beauty Routine - Total £113.73

Splurge Beauty RoutineSimple Make Up Wipes £3.25
Garnier 900ml Miscellar Water £7.99 
Sukin Exfoliatior £9.99
Rodial Hangover Face Mask £45 
Neals Yard Frankincense Toner £20 
Neals Yard Frankincense Cream £27.50

Save Beauty Routine - Total £39.72

Simple Make Up Wipes £3.25
Garnier 900ml Miscellar Water £7.99 
Neutrogena Hydro Facial Wash £3.99
Lacura Caviar Face Mask £6.99
La Roche Posay Serozinc Spray - £8.50
MooGoo Moisturiser £9.00

When it comes to my luxury skincare routine I have about 6 products that I like to use. There's makeup wipes to remove my eye makeup, miscellar water to remove my base, an exfoliator, a face mask, a toner and then of course a moisturiser. 

To really test which beauty routine I'd prefer (minus the Simple Makeup Wipes and Garnier Miscellar Water as I'd never change these!) I tried each one for a week and was surprised to say that I preferred using all the products in the £39.72 routine than the £113.73. 

Sukin Skincare Exfoliator vs Neutogena Hydro Facial Wash
To be honest with this one I would of much preferred to review the Pixie Glow Tonic against the Neutrogena Hydro Facial Wash as they both contain fruit acids. However, since there are other ways to exfoliate the skin I figured that this was still fair. The Sukin Skincare Exfoliator is a little messy, although the beads are small it feels like you need to spend longer on the skin for it to have an effect. The Neutorgena Hydro Facial Wash however has a gel like consistency, feels incredibly quick to apply and doesn't need long on the skin to do it's job, on an extra it also removes excess makeup.

Rodial Hangover Face Mask vs Lacura Caviar Facemask
Although I do love my Rodial face mask I also love the Lacura one so when I was reviewing these over the 2 weeks I worried I wouldn't be able to pick as they both have the same (if not exact) results. However one advantage (that seems to be a common theme) is that the Lacura face mask only needs to be left on for 3 minutes, it doesn't dry which makes it super easy to remove and it leaves my skin feeling super soft. The Rodial face mask however has to be left on for a good 10-15 minutes, dries into a powdery finish and is a little messy to remove.

Neals Yard Frankincense Toner vs La Roche Posay Serozinc Spray
Although the Neals Yard toner smells incredible I much preferred using the La Roche Posay spray, simply because It's super quick and easy to use. I don't need to pour any product out or require extra help from cotton pads. The La Roche Posay spray leaves just the right amount of product on my skin that it soaks in quickly where as I always end up pouring too much Neals Yard toner onto a cotton pad and wasting it.

Neals Yard Frankincense Moisturiser vs Moogoo Moisruriser
I knew before I even did the 2 week trial on both these moisturisers which one would win. Although I love my Neals Yard moisturiser I haven't stopped talking about the Moogoo one. Unlike the Neals Yard which is a little watery and takes a while to sink in (but smells incredible) the Moogoo moisturiser is thicker, has a pleasant milky smell, feels natural and although needs a little more effort to moisturise into the skin, it doesn't leave any oily residue. 

Save > Splurge 
You don't always get what you pay for and it is about personal preference. So next time you're considering splurging on a product just because you think it'll worth, money and the brand name don't always mean better! 

Beki Xo

(*) Disclaimer: I was not gifted any of the above products. All views in the post are my own and others opinions may differ depending on their skin type.
4 Life Lessons Learned In 2016

Okay, okay. Enough with the negatives about 2016. Yes, sadly a shit ton of celebrities died, Brexit happened and that man who I shalt not name became president of America but don't let that shadow your personal achievements, experiences and gains from 2016. 

I for one bought my first home, accepted an awesome job role, had the opportunity to interview my first celebrity (Ryan Gosling), had an incredible holiday in Lake Como Italy, fed lions and tigers at South Lake Zoo, got back in touch with old friends and met some awesome new ones. But as well as having experiencing all the fun stuff I had throughout the year I also learnt some life lessons...

Good Things Come To Those Who Hustle
I've always been told 'good things come to those who wait', 'just give it time' or 'If it's meant to be it's meant to be'. No. Sitting around and waiting for an email from your dream job, an offer on a house, a phone call from an old friend or customers to buy from your newly opened business just aren't going to happen unless you hustle. Make an effort, don't accept the first answer and push yourself to make shit happen. I (well 'we') spent 2 years in the process of buying a house, jumping over hurdle after hurdle, pushing for information when we were given delays and demanding compensation when it all got a little ridiculous. Even when others said to us 'maybe it's not meant to be' or 'I can't believe you're still in the process' we wanted the house and we weren't going to give up that easily. Finally (however many months down the line) we're in the position we hoped we'd be in, sat in the house we own and knowing all that energy used on hustling worked. Motto: Don't settle - hustle. 

F**k It, Take More Risks 
I've always been comfortable with routine, being happy with what I have and holding back when I'm not comfortable with the certainty of an outcome. But why should we always settle on just being happy with what we have? Why should I just be okay with not taking a risk and being better off? This past year I've learnt to say "f**k it" when it comes to risks. I mean, there's a risk crossing the road for god sake so why should any other risk feel greater? For me it's more a 'risk' of speaking my mind, talking things out and confronting someone or something face on when I know I have a better idea, a gut feeling or an opinion that could greatly effect an outcome. Just think f**k it, it's better to feel relieved you've said or done it and can say 'at least I tried' than 'what if...'. 

It's Never That Bad 
On the back of taking risks, the outcome will never be as bad as you think it will. Over 2016 I've learnt to think positively, if something really shit happens I'll try to pull the good things that have come from it and focus on those. You can't jump into a time machine so you just have to deal with it and rather than sulking in a corner you have to remember that things aren't that bad. Situations like; yes you weren't given a certain opportunity but you'll get a bigger and better one, yes you shouldn't of said that but maybe this will happen, yes you were turned down on this but maybe because something better is around the corner, positive thinking works wonders. It doesn't mean you're an optimist but if it did so what? You're making the best of what you think is a bad situation and that can make life so much easier as you just need to remember that it's never that bad. 

It's Okay To Check Your Social Media Often
No seriously, it is. I hate this stigma that social media is taking over the world in a negative way, that you need to turn off your phone or 'pause' your social media account so you can wean yourself off it like it's some kind of A class drug. Don't get me wrong if you can't watch a movie without picking up your phone or you feel like you need to have your phone on the table during a meal out with your other half then maybe you do need to take a break because your brain does need some 'down time'. But for most of us who like to quickly check through 3 social media accounts in under 2 minutes, every hour or so, what's wrong with that? We've become a nation of professional multi-taskers, so If I can chat to my mum on the phone whilst quickly replying to an old friend online, what's wrong with that? Social media allows us to receive information even before it's hit the news, connect with old friends, keep friendships going when you're too busy to meet up and also connect to people you'd never bump into in real life. For me as a blogger I have an online community, for me as a Social Media Executive, it allows me to provide you with news, memes that you'll connect with your friends by tagging and share experiences you never knew existing or would never see yourself. So yes, it's okay to check your social media multiple times a day to stay connected, so long as you don't feel like you need it to feel connected.

Beki Xo

The Gingerbread Gin Cocktail Recipe (*)

My gin collection is rapidly growing and therefor so are my cocktail recipe ideas. You can't beat a simple G&T or a classic Tom Collins but there's something fun about understanding what ingredients work best to enhance or marry the botanicals within a gin.

Portobello Road Gin has enough alcohol strength to carry flavour of the 9 botanicals and push them through other ingredients contained in a cocktail. The taste of the gin itself has a fresh juniper and peppery palate that develops into a red berries and citrus finish. The 9 botanicals within the gin are juniper berries, coriander seed, angelica root, orris root, lemon peel, orange peel, liquorice root, cassia bark and nutmeg.

Because the gin contains both fresh and grounding flavours it works well with garnishes such as lemon peel, grapefruit, cinnamon, cherries and pear for a simple gin and tonic. But since Christmas is vastly approaching I couldn't ignore those 2 spiced botanicals of cassia bark (aka cinnamon bark) and nutmeg to create something a little festive...

This recipe has a smooth festive taste with a slight sharpness of the gin making it perfect as a short drink... or a gingerbread man bath as I've been told it looks like!

The Gingerbread Gin Cocktail Recipe:

50ml - Portobello Road Gin
25ml - Gingerbread syrup (coffee syrup works great)
1 large egg white (helps smooth out the flavour and add that frothed top)
2 cubes of ice

  • Add the egg white into the cocktail shaker along with the ice
  • Next add the gin and the gingerbread syrup (less syrup if you prefer it less sweet)
  • Pop on the lid and shake until the the liquid sounds thick and the shaker becomes misty
  • Put the gingerbread man into the coupe cocktail glass and pour the liquid 
  • Next finish off scooping the foam on top of the glass and serve
Be sure to eat your gingerbread man before he drowns! 
The great thing about this recipe is how easy it is to tailor it to your taste. If you prefer the drink sweeter you can add more gingerbread, if you prefer it smoother you can add more egg white which doesn't add flavour but helps to smooth out the liquid).

Beki Xo

(*) Disclaimer: As part of this blog post I was gifted the Portobello Road Gin however all opinions and the recipe are my own
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