The cooking guide for drinks lovers

I’m a 36 year old man and I can’t cook. It’s pathetic.  I can make cocktails and this, plus the kindness of long suffering friends, girlfriends and wives, has allowed me to go through life without dying of hunger.

But times have changed.  I asked my friend and colleague Toby to help me. He wrote the following cooking guide for the drinks lover – all his words, in his style. 

And it worked. I am now cooking! 

The Two Page Mark Cooking Guide™

The Oven

It’s only got one setting that matters, it’s the one with the fan the makes it get hot. Anything with pigeon spikes is a distraction.

Yes, the top shelf is hotter. No, it doesn’t matter.

  • 230 degrees == Nice and hot. Beginning of a roast.
  • 180 degrees == General Hot cooking temperature for all of the things
  • 130 – 150 == The rest of a roast, general slow cooking. ‘forget about it cooking’

The Hob

You know this one. It’s mostly used for bacon, but many things have a home on the hob.

If you’re reading instructions that say anything other than ‘fry + adjective’ – look here:

  • Sweat = annoy the food with heat, like enough to make Alex send you passive aggressive messages, but not enough to take his headphones off. Stir like a Treacle (cocktail).
  • Saute = Really annoy food with a lot of heat, but stir like a Negroni until it gets used to it.
  • Brown = Make it hurt like it’s nicked your whisky, but not for long. Probably going somewhere else.

The Basics


King of all things.

General principle the works for everything:

  • Put in roasting vessel.
  • 230 degrees for 15-30 minutes, until it looks very pissed off.
  • 130 – 150 degrees for a hour or so. Just google time vs weight.
  • 10 minutes resting out of the oven, or that bloody annoying time your not supposed to attack it.

Alternative for chicken:

  • Put in deep-ish vessel on top of a load of veg (onion, garlic carrots, sweet potato, whatevs) and some herbs if you feel like it.
  • Add wine / dry vermouth / water to it, just enough to cover the bottom, of the tin.
  • Wrap it in tinfoil like a boomerang in a glass. No escape!
  • Stick in oven at 180.
  • Forget about it. Netflix time.
  • Remember it at least 4 Old Fashioneds later, more if it’s a big chicken.
  • Mix yourself a drink.
  • Remove foil. Burn yourself and swear.
  • Extract meat and veg
  • FEAST.


Type one – Oily

See – Mackerel, Bream, Salmon, Trout, Tuna (fresh)

Cooking instructions:

  • Mostly frying or sticking in the oven at a fairly high heat (it’s up to you if you do the tin foil boomerang cover, depending if you want ‘crispy’, but there is a risk of dry fish).
  • A note on prawns – these little dudes basically need to get hot all the way through. Add them to everything. Wine, garlic. Yum. Shells on = more flavour, more mess.

Type two – Not oily

See – Cod, Haddock, all that lot. These are overpriced, go for pollack / coley / whiting.

Cooking instructions:

  • Slower cooking, usually with liquid (wine, or milk / coconut milk). ^ These generally hold together quite well and aren’t much drama. Good for curries.

Actual things to cook:


  • The roast ^ instructions are above.
    • Shoulder or leg are the best cuts, because they’re fatty
    • Add garlic, thyme, anchovies (just make a stabby hole with a knife and stuff them in). Olive oil the surface.
    • You can also do the boomerang cover trick.
  • Lamb in sauce
    • Neck, shoulder, random bits
    • Slow cook.
  • Frying lamb – need expensive cuts like chops, apart from that, crack on.


  • Roasting instructions above
    • Non covered roast is best with oil on the skin.
  • Flavours:
    • Stuff with lemon, or garlic, thyme
    • Salt, pepper, or paprika / chilli on the skin.


Hmm. More involved. The key is finding a good recipe book. Most curries follow this pattern:

  • Chop lots of stuff
  • Grind some spices
  • Make a paste
  • Gently fry the paste (this cooks the onions, they’re ever present)
  • Add liquid
  • Cook until done.


  • Coconut milk is your best friend in the world. Always have some in stock
  • Thai Taste do good pastes (supermarket). That is literally 10 minutes – Paste plus heat (bit of oil) then meat / veg… mix Negroni… add coconut milk. Drink Negroni. Poke occasionally.

Good Recipe People (google stuff)

  • Nigel Slater (everything) – great writer
  • Yottam Ottolenghi (some odd ingredients, but genius veggie stuff)
  • ‘Moro’ cookbook (Sam & Sam Clark)
  • Rick Stein – bit finicky
  • Jamie Oliver – his best is Jamie’s Italy IMHO
  • Hugh Fearlessly Eats it all – if you need to know about meet.

Discover gin from America, England, Spain and Scotland – Junipalooza in 6 minutes

Watch to discover gins from around the world.

When we’re not creating great drinks events, we’re capturing them. The Drinks Galore team film Gin Foundry’s Junipalooza 2015 – the home of craft gin distilling.

Sample the gins with us as we go see what’s on offer from the likes of New York Distillery Co, Haymans, Santamania and Makar Glasgow Gin

Filmed and Edited by Alex Blogg

Meet The Maker series: Mark interviews Alexandre Gabriel from Cognac Ferrand, Citadelle Gin & Plantation Rum

“Taste, with the capital letters … It’s not drinking to get drunk, it’s not drinking to look cool. It’s drinking for pleasure.”

Mark speaks to Alexandre Gabriel, President of Cognac Ferrand (creator of Citadelle Gin and Plantation Rum) about life, drinks and everything in between.

“You can rebuild the world with a bottle of rum until 2 in the morning … ”

Filmed at London’s Oxo Tower by the fantastic Alex Blogg

Drinks Galore – Meet The Maker Series – Mark gets in depth on gin with Plymouth Gin’s Master Distiller Sean Harrison

A few weeks ago I got in-depth on gin and more with Plymouth Gin’s Master Distiller Sean Harrison.

What is Navy Strength gin? Why does this former Navy man drink gin without garnish? Did he always dream of running a distillery, and what does a master distiller actually do with his time?

Find out all you ever wanted to know about how gin is made, and what makes one of the oldest gins so distinct, in this video interview.

Event Summary – #2 GIN BLOSSOMING

Cracking night. Total re-education on #gin #DrinksGalore (@PepePettigrew)

  • When: 6th June 2014
  • Where: The Hoxton Hotel
  • Spirit: Gin
  • Host: Mark Thompson

Our second event and maybe even more fun than the first – great crowd of 42 imbibers matched to a perfect selection of gins, to show the evolution of this fine spirit, topped off by a Gin and Tonic master class – in a very very aromatic with all the Basil and Lemon Thyme on display. Film coming soon. Check the Facebook gallery meantime!

We kicked things off with a classic Gin Punch:  4 parts Plymouth Gin, 2.5 parts Earl Grey tea, 2.5 parts cloudy apple, 2 parts lemon juice,  1 part sugar syrup,  Clove and cardamom to taste finish with a dash of bitters. This got us all in the mood for, well, more gin …

On to the tasting:


  • #1 Zuidam Rogge Genever – a rye genever, a little like a whisky which nicely connected us back to the first Drinks Galore event
  • #2 Hayman’s Old Tom – wonderful flavour from this classic Victorian Gin. Mark T suggested this would make the perfect Martini
  • #3 Langley’s No8 London Dry – Their botanicals are secret, but we had fun guessing what they might be
  • #4 Dodd’s Gin London Dry – A great gin to compare to Langley’s to show how London Drys can be quite different. You really need to own both!

Katie then brought out ice, limes, lemons and grapefruit peel and of course a glass full of ice and more Dodd’s Gin, and Mark T showed us how to choose fruits and herbs to make the perfect G and T – it was a lot of fun sharing the herbs around the room and sampling each other’s serve. Mark T explained that since tonic makes up most of the liquid in a G and T it’s important to choose the very best, so of course we served up Fever-Tree, being naturally carbonated it tasted very different to other tonic water, more subtle and it let the flavours of the gin come through.

I went around the room after to see which gins people liked the most  and it was a real mixed bag, everyone had their own favourite from the genever onwards and I know quite a few people will have been showing off their G and T skills with a new found respect gin.

With 100% of the attendees rating it Excellent or Very Good and 100% “extremely likely” to recommend it to others, I am very proud indeed.


Awesome night @markofrespect well done. Fantastically presented in great surroundings with great people. We’re both coming to next one  (@Whiskywingsuit)


Hats off to @markofrespect for #drinksgalore. Great night of gin gin and gin. (@DFergPR)


Thanks to Mark T for another great night and Katie for ginning us up. Special thanks to Hannah from The Hoxton Hotel for providing us with the space, promotion and food on the night, and for believing in the concept from the early days.

Guest Event Summary – Gin Blossoming

I thought a G&T was two liquids binding in a glass with ice and optional garnish. Oh how I was wrong…

Thanks to Katie McCullough, guest at GIN BLOSSOMING for this Guest Event Summary:

It’s safe to say, I’m a gin drinker. By that I mean a gin & tonic is my go-to drink when ever anyone asks, preferably with lime. I thought a G&T was two liquids binding in a glass with ice and optional garnish. Oh how I was wrong…

This was the second Drinks Galore event I’d been to. The first one, Whisky I Love You, left me with nuggets of information and a slither of knowledge were I to order a whisky. When the announcement came that the second spirit was to be gin, well I booked straight away and gathered some friends to come with.

What I love about the Drinks Galore events are that they’re casual and relaxed.

I don’t profess to know a lot about alcohol except how to put it in my mouth and swallow, but I’ve also never been that enamoured by the idea of a wine-tasting. So to have an event like this exist where it’s more about the atmosphere and the time spent getting to know the spirits, means you’re instantly put at ease. To be honest that’s definitely helped by the fact you start the night in what feels like someone’s kitchen, a complimentary gin cocktail made before you fresh, with pockets of people chatting. The Hoxton Hotel may be busy in the foyer, but where we are feels like a few drinks away from the hustle and bustle. A civilised affair where it’s not about who you’re wearing and where you work, but what you’re drinking.

Then you’re led into what feels like someone’s living room where snifters of gin are laid out for each and everyone of us, and it would be rude not to partake…

Mark Thomson, the spirit expert, leads us through the tumbling troubled history of gin with his tales of Fleming, tonic, botanicals, and the origins of the moniker ‘Mother’s Ruin’. With a constant stream of knowledge delivered in a friendly funny way, you never feel like you’re being bombarded. Just like the gin in hand, you imbibe the wisdom like it’s the best history and science lesson you’ve ever had/drunk. Drinking gin neat was admittedly a little frightening. But once you smell, sip, appreciate the spirit neat, only then can you marvel at the differences. My own favourite was Hayman’s Old Tom, a gin that captures the essence of gin distillery from the 1800s, but without the badness that we’ve all heard about. Fresh, soft, citrus… This is a gin I would happily drink neat in a glass toppled with ice.

Our last drink of the night was served to us somewhat dissected. Presented with the ingredients of gin supplied by Dodds, and tonic by Fever-Tree, we were invited to create our own G&T. With spruces of lemon thyme, rinds of citrus, and bay leaves dotted around, we all got to creating. My personal and extremely beautiful tasting creation was lemon thyme, bay leaf and grapefruit rind.

I entered the room knowing how to ask for a G&T, I left the room knowing that’s never going to be as simple or good enough anymore. But I’ve got the knowledge to change that. There’s gin, and then there’s a world of gin you’ve not yet tried. I cannot wait for the next spirit of choice, next time I’m bringing more friends.


Drinks Galore Interviews – Mark speaks to Mark Thomson, spirits expert

Mark Jennings interviews Mark Thomson, spirits expert and presenter for Drinks Galore. We discuss the spirits we tried and can’t go back to, the next ‘big’ spirits, the most unusual place to do a whisky tasting and what his ‘desert island’ spirit would be.

At Drinks Galore we believe there’s nothing better than tasting unique spirits in the company of great people. We’re talking about the kind of evening where you can learn as much from the person sitting next to you as from the drink-swilling expert.

#DrinksGalore – Elegant drinks tastings for spirited amateurs

Shot at McQueen London by Alex Blogg. See more of his fantastic work