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James Fry, Gin Master at The Cave Bar in Milford on Sea

Despite being half Spanish, I was born and bred in Lymington and have stayed all my life thanks to its wonderful scenery, incredible social scene and the best drinking holes in the country. And as a foodie, we are spoilt for choice in New Forest from light lunches to seven-course tasting menus – it’s right on our doorstep.

I encourage our guests to head to the local, and very lovely, beach here in Milford, and get some fresh air before they come back here for a drink and nibbles. It’s so lovely down there and one of my favourite places.

We opened the Cave in 2012 when La Perle and Verveine were offering excellent cuisine… but where was the pre and post drink venue? That’s when owner Jon Crouch captured the niche that Milford needed – twinning a top retail outlet of fine wines, spirits and local beers with a full functional bar – and its wonderful to work with the rest of the village in developing all the businesses that reside here.

 

Our wine list and menus are forever evolving and changing with the seasons – but we like to keep them concise, simple and clear. Both Jon and I have extensive knowledge in wine and spirits and work really carefully with wine suppliers and local producers around Hampshire to get the best selection.

Our main aim is to work with and support local producers, and the New Forest is full of amazing producers of English sparkling wine, gin and vodka. Hampshire has some amazing vineyards and for me, Hattingley Valley has a taste that you would expect from a champagne. The region can also grow the same grapes that you would expect to see in France such as Pinot, Noir, Pinot Meuner and Chardonnay – so why not try English wines at your next dinner party. I would especially recommend the Hattingley Valleys Blanc de Blanc

There are amazing Gins in the area and the New Forest has some amazing exclusive blends. Rupert from Conker Gin has created an exceptional gin blending samphire, elderberries and gorse flower from the Southbourne area, similar gin distillers such as Pothecary Gin chase a new style of gin using old distilling methods. Being lavender led with beautiful tones of lemon, this gin is defiantly one for the gin lover.

We host a lot of Meet the Producer evenings at The Cave where everyone is welcome – from local beer producers to vineyard owners and spirit distillers. All of them are happy for people to visit them and taste what’s on offer – just find them online and give them a call.

For food and wine, we are definitely spoilt for choice in the New Forest. In terms of putting us on the map, The Elderflower in the beautiful cobbled quayside of Lymington offers some of the South’s leading culinary excellence. Head chef Andrew du Bourg – former Head Chef at the Chewton Glen – merges British cuisine with a touch of French flair. For drink – aside from ourselves – the Solent Cellar in Lymington has an amazing selection of diverse wines to suit any mood. Both Simon and Heather have huge backgrounds in wine and will happily help you find your favourite.


My New Forest Favourites….

Walk: Going back to my childhood Longslade at Brockenhurst happens to hold some of my happiest times. with beautiful scenery that will calm the soul, this walk of glorious

Season: Being half Spanish, summer is the time to thrive with good food, good wine and good times with friends. Enjoy a beach BBQ, explore Hampshire on a bike ride, take breathtaking walks from pub to pub, escape the city life and relax in one of the most sought-after areas of the UK…there is a reason why we live longer here.

Sunday Roast: On the outskirts of Lymington lies a beauty and gem of a pub that serves the finest roasts known to man… The Monkey House. Landlord Ian hosts everyone in a warm and inviting atmosphere that is perfect for families, couples and weary travellers. The added bonus is Sundays also offers the best local musical talent in the evenings.

Restaurant Being a local of Milford on Sea, I have to mention one of my close friends and owner of La Perle Restaurant, Sam Hughes. He has come from a class of excellence of culinary training with Raymond Blanc, and delivers a touch of fine dining to Milford. Be it his set lunch menu or seven-course tasting menu, his delightful takes on classic and modern dishes with amazing local Hampshire produce never disappoint.


Summer: Not to be cliché but during the heat of the summer months there is nothing better than drinking chilled Provence Rose with friends and basking in the sunshine, alternatively a glass (or bottle) of champagne is never a miss.
Spring: As the season hits, choose an easy drinking everyday wine such as Picpoul de Pinet from the Languedoc region, an extremely fresh white wine with lemon zest and beautiful minerality,
Autumn & Winter: When coming into the colder periods, I am one for a robust Bordeaux style blend, especially from South Africa. Stellenbosch holds some amazing vineyards – one in particular is Rust en Vrede Estate wine, which blends Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot to bring out a deep crimson red beast with cherry notes and subtle spice. Perfect for a cosy winters eve.


 

Visit www.thecavemos.co.uk or visit their Facebook page @TheCavewinebar for more on their events and ever-changing wine lists and menus.