Ant gin and designer chicken coops. It’s time to up your food and drink game

Even with the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme being extended in various guises, never has there been a time where home entertaining and food self-sufficiency been more important. But just as there’s difference between gins, as any discerning drinker will tell you, so is there when it comes to chicken coops and barbecues.
Quench Gin Trolley
A world away from your parent’s fusty old drinks trolley, this (above) luxurious design in high-gloss 18mm birch ply and 10mm-thick diamond-polished acrylic also features a walnut garnish board, flush-fitted removable stainless steel drip tray, a drawer for utensils, ventilated cabinets for ensuring spirits are in optimal condition and a mini fridge for keeping the essentials on ice. Finished with solid wood castors and available in a range of wood veneer effects (although for £6,000 we’d expect to see more real wood), each bar is made to order over eight to ten weeks.


Price: £6,870 | Quench
Anty Gin

A collaboration between the gastronomically adventurous Nordic Food Lab – established by head chef of Noma, Rene Redzepi and Claus Meyer to experiment with future-looking ingredients – and The Cambridge Distillery, Anty Gin is (to our knowledge) the first drink to be made using distilled red wood ants. Each bottle contains the essences of 62 such critters. But there’s more to this concoction than a place at an Indiana Jones banquet, because the formic acid that sits in the insects abdomens is a perfect reactive compound for alcohol, and, once mixed with a few botanicals including juniper and nettle, the result is a sharp, citrussy spirit. A 5cl dropper bottle of pure ant distillate is also included to further enhance your Gin Ant Tonic (sorry/not sorry for the pun).
Price: £220 | Cambridge Distillery


Frederik Roije Breed Retreat

Dutch designer Frederik Roije’s Breed Retreat is the most considered and stylish way to keep chickens at home. The multi-layered tongue-and-groove habitat, finished in all-weather black stain, and complete with frameless picture window and sharp silhouettes, is a modernist triumph that wouldn’t look out of place in the back garden at Fallingwater. But what to call the hens? May we suggest Frank, Lloyd and Wright?
Price: from £4,650 | Frederik Roije
Everdure 4K BBQ


Based on kamado-style ceramic charcoal barbecue cookers – think hi-tech Big Green Egg – Heston Blumenthal’s latest collaboration with Everdure is a super-insulated, app controlled, self-lighting powerhouse that can cook low and slow for hours at as little as 110°C, or sear steaks and bake pizzas at 400°C. The app tracks cooking progress, tracking internal and ambient cooking temperatures via various sensors and meat probes, will send alerts when more fuel is needed or if you need to adjust airflow, and virtually eliminates the chance of cremation or Campylobacter.
Price: £1,799 | John Lewis
MiniBrew Smart Keg 2.0

Discard the demijohn and hide away the hydrometer – this is home brewing on a whole other, easier level. MiniBrew has simplified the process through its stylish, all-in-one brewery that does everything automatically, resulting in the freshest possible craft beer at home. The system requires plumbing in, just like a dishwasher, but once installed, it’s simply a case of following instructions on the app, adding water to the smart keg, pre-mixing malt in the mash tun, and adding the hops into the hopper. Temperature is controlled – boiling and then cooling down rapidly – for perfect fermentation conditions, and the five-litre keg can simply be tapped after the brew, for drinking in as little as ten days for a five per cent abv. New England IPA. If you’ve got time on your hands, whipping up some ten per cent Sputnik Russian Imperial Stout takes 25 days.
Price: €1,199 | MiniBrew
Lékué Bread Maker

Designed to do away with the mountains of mess bread making creates, this flexible silicone bowl enables you to weigh, mix, knead, prove and bake without spreading flour and dough around the kitchen. Measuring 28cm long, this 600ml capacity, naturally non-stick, dishwasher-safe design pops out impressive 500g oval and round loaves and is oven-safe up to 240°C. Traditional bakers will baulk at the somewhat hands-off approach to kneading, but we’re all for anything that removes faff from our new found hobbies.
Price: £20 | Lakeland
Snow Peak Titanium Spork

A spork is everything you need to eat and cook with in the great outdoors. So important is this multipurpose piece of cutlery that each person should really carry their own at all times. Plastic sporks can either bend or break, so a more study option is advised. This titanium version from Japan weighs a mere 16g, and as well as coming in the standard metallic hue, different anodised colours means each camper can keep track of their own spork.
Price: £9 | Snow Peak
Given how industrial farming has been accused of degrading land and destroying wildlife for decades, many are seeking self-sufficient solutions. The Farmstand requires absolutely no horticultural experience or even soil, as this self-watering, self-fertilising hydroponic system takes up very little space but can grow up to 36 plants at once. It comes with a choice of over 200 varieties of fruit and veg, and the designers claim that all human input – apart from picking and eating – can all be done in just five minutes a week. Available in three sizes from 1.1m to 1.85m.
Price: from $348 ($29 per month) | Lettuce Grow
Yeti V Series Hard Cooler
The humble cool box is rarely regarded as an heirloom purchase, but this supremely robust stainless steel-bodied vacuum-insulated design should last several lifetimes. Based around two hugely popular Yeti designs, the Rambler and Tundra, it has capacity for 46 tinnies and almost 30kg of ice. The walls, despite offering all-day insulation in any heat, are surprisingly thin, helping to maximise capacity. But be warned, at 15.8kg when empty, this is a design best suited to garden parties and car camping trips.
Price: $800 | Yeti
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