Gin Events, Gin Joints

Drink Here: The Hendrick’s Emporium of Sensorial Submersion

2015HENDRIC_ASVLike gin? Going to Edinburgh Fringe this year? Looking for something a little different to do in-between shows? Curious enough to magnifiy your mind, fall into a state of hypnagogia, experience your gin in a completely new way? Good, then you need to get your fine self down to the most unusual Hendrick’s Emporium of Sensorial Submersion (#HESS) on 91 George Street, Edinburgh, pronto.

Cucumber HQ promised “a synesthetic playground of wondrous experiments and entertainments lubricated with most unusual libations throughout – a fully immersive experience that will let you discover and experience the uniqueness of Hendrick’s Gin through the mediums of sound and taste. You will leave a smidgeon more educated, a great deal more titillated and a whole imperial tonne more befuddled by the absurd abilities of your very own senses.” – and they weren’t wrong. What an experience!

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Part cocktail tasting, part gin lesson, part experiment, part theatre, the HESS is not to be missed. The delightful Cacophony bar is filled with oddities as only you’d expect from Hendrick’s – everything from rose and cucumber listening devices to Pavlov’s dog to the elaborate ‘Phantasmagorical Cognitive Drinking Topper Hat’ that lulls you into a state of hypnagogia as you sip your way through a spectacular cocktail menu, mixed expertly by a suitably dapper team. The bar is free to all and is well worth a visit.

IMG_20150813_192638But for the truly curious, you must take part in the immersive experience – for just twenty-four Great British Pounds you experience 5 Hendrick’s drinks and learn an awful lot about yourself, the way your mind works in relation to taste and leave with a delightfully satiated palette. Hendrick’s don’t do things by halves – they worked with world-leading sound artist Mark IJzerman from the University of Utrecht to deconstruct the cocktail tasting experience and present it in a new way. Here’s an overview of our night on the immersive experience:

The Quietest Bar on Earth

Here, adorned in white gowns, we entered a white room and enjoyed a dry martini in complete silence. Issued with noise cancelling headphones, our host used boards with words on to talk us through a conscious mediation that was designed to quite the mind and the palette. A most unusual experience and completely unexpected – I can’t remember the last time I sat in complete silence for 10 minutes. Hearing your own heart beat in your ears and your own breathing whilst surrounded by other people was awfully strange, but actually helped you focus on the flavour if the martini, which was delightful. Hendrick’s is a superb gin in a martini – really soft and floral.

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The Audio-gastrotorium Laboratory

Next, in a science lab classroom, we explored and learned about how our sensory stimuli are all interconnected. Presented with 3 vials of different coloured liquid, we were invited to put some headphones on and, using a flavour wheel, describe the three different gins. A most unexpected outcome – I won’t give the game away, but this was probably the most interesting room and a fascinating experience.

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The Quantumphysical Soundscape of Hendrick’s Gin

In a deep red room, we were invited to play with a most curious contraption designed to “uncover the secret quantumphysical voice of cocktails as we amplify the effect one has on the vibration of concoction’s sub-atoms” – we basically “played” our cocktails as you would instruments – the best way I can describe this was like playing a theremin. An absolutely fascinating experience and fun way to enjoy a cocktail!

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Sonic Cucumber Bath

The final room was a zen like oasis – in the midst of the crazy festival, this was truly lovely. Here, we enjoyed a sonic sound bath led by a gongologist – basically playing tibetan singing bowls and a gong while you lie back and fall into a state of deep relaxation. We finished off the experience with a an alarmingly green coloured liquid called ‘cucozade’ – which in fact tasted delicious.

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All in all an amazing experience and one not to be missed! More info and tickets:

  • Location: 91 George Street from 7th – 30th August 2015.
  • The full Hendrick’s Emporium of Sensorial Submersion experience runs every hour from 6pm – 11pm, Wednesdays to Sundays. Each experience lasts approximately two hours and will be undertaken in groups of 20.
  • Tickets for the full experience cost £24 (including drinks) and can be purchased from https://www.edfringe.com.
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Gin Joints

Drink here : The Flintridge Proper, La Cañada Flintridge, CA. USA

On a recent fact finding mission to Los Angeles, I stumbled upon an article in LA Weekly proclaiming a bar in La Cañada Flintridge as the greatest gin bar in Los Angeles. Admittedly I had just googled “The best gin bar in LA”, but upon further investigation another article proclaimed that this bar, just north of Pasadena on interstate-210, as being in possession of the largest Gin selection in the known world. This was indeed a bold claim and too good to miss, and the only encouragement I needed to hail a taxi and get myself to La Cañada on a Friday evening to embark on some much needed potation.

Welcome to The Flintridge Proper.

Over 200 Gins, A Proper Gin bar.

Over 200 Gins, A Proper Gin bar.

 

The bar itself is situated in strip mall off the main drag, Foothill Blvd, and from the outside it was not really what I expected. I guess I was thinking large Victorian gin palace, purchased in the 1960’s and transported brick by brick from Southwark High Street to Los Angeles by a dedicated but slightly Ginebriated Californian oil man. Instead its rather prosaic appearance belied a veritable agglomeration of Gin within. This was nothing less than a California-style Gin Palace of the first degree.

I propped myself at the bar, in the traditional manner and gazed across the expanse of Gins proudly displayed behind the bar like trophies to be won in a shooting gallery; and this was some shooting gallery. I scanned the names on the bottles, some familiar, some unfamiliar, and some written on with a sharpie marker pen. They spoke of Gins like, Cap rock, Desert Dry and Deaths Door, produced domestically across the US to the more familiar European Gins, two Monkey 47’s, three Bathtubs, some classic Genevers, vintage Spanish and Italian Gins like a 1970’s Milton & 1960’s Bosford. I even spotted a bottle of Lighthouse from New Zealand. The Proper also produces it’s own Gins, which i will come to later.

Luckily I was joined at the bar by The Gin Club’s west coast ambassador, the aptly named Mr Necessary, a connoisseur of Gin and a full time tonic enthusiast. Where should we start?

St George, Dry Rye Gin from California

Why not start with a local Gin, well, sort of local, the St Georges, Dry Rye Gin, brewed in Alemeda, San Francisco. This is not a purists Gin by any means, but I am all about variety and was intregued to see how the rye flavours worked with the juniper. We threw some fevertree into it with some ice and the result was quite pleasing. It had a subtle sense of whiskey mixed in there and strong nose spiced with peppers and oak. Slightly reminiscent of a bold DRJ’s. Definitely a man’s gin.

Next up was a local bathtub type gin, this had been made from locally foraged botanicals found in the Seco, Arroyo Valley in the nearby Angeles National Forest. This was quite a raw affair, but had a distinct nutty flavor when taken neat, but is probably best consumed in a Tom Collins. A little too raw for a martini or a ricky, but certainly distinct in a G&T.

The drinks continued and as I made my way through a Dessert Dry, a Navy Strength Old Tom – The Professor C.A., a Distillers Cut Monkey 47, some Old Raj 110proof, a Jenson Old Tom, and an Uncle Val’s Botanical in a Martini. The guys behind the bar really knew their Gin, introducing me to knew cuts, and helping me navigate my way through the 200+ Gins on offer.
The clientele of the bar was as eclectic as the Gins themselves; possibly because the NASA JPL facility is a short distance up the road, this appears to be the go-to place for space scientists.
It took me a while to realise this, as i tried fruitlessly to purchase some actual Apollo Moon Buggy wheels that a guy sitting adjacent to me in the bar had in his office. And then in astonishment and wonder at the coincidence when I found that the quiet reserved chap I was sat next to was an actual legend from the Apollo space programme!

If you find yourself in Los Angeles, and you have an interest in Gin and space travel, then you really must pay a visit to the Flintridge Proper.

Gins at The Flintridge Proper

 

*many thanks to Ross Necessary, the Gin Club’s west coast correspondent, for his assistance and support at the Flintridge Proper.

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Gin Joints

Drink here : Mr Fogg’s, Mayfair.

Located at number 15 Burton Lane, tucked into a non-descript side street in Mayfair; it was introduced to me as the kind of place one might find a gentleman that has travelled the world in curious circumstances. It is of course, Mr Foggs.

Even as you approach the large double frontage, with the exception of the uniformed doorman standing outside, there is little to tell you that you have in fact found your destination. Those of a less adventurous demeanour might be perturbed and walk on by, thinking it perhaps a private residence or an old Mayfair members club.

Mr Fogg's

Upon entering the establishment, you are ushered into what I can only imagine was the officers mess at some Victorian era colonial outpost – the walls are adorned with mounted animal heads, ordinary bicycles hanging from the ceiling, a large hot air balloon appears to have crash landed and entangled in the rafters. A large fireplace hosts several roaring logs, above which the head of a Kudo keeps watch over the proceedings. Uniformed waiters, dressed in the style of colonial mess stewards seat you and take your drinks orders.

The selection of Gin on hand was, as you would expect of such an establishment, both extensive and eclectic, with some rare 1970’s bottlings of Booth’s, Gilby’s, Beefeater’s, Pitman’s, and Plymouth Drys. I, of course, being a man who likes to get straight to the point when ordering drinks, looked no further than the first entry on the Gin list: Mr Fogg’s Butlers Gin and a Fevertree tonic. The drink was served in a traditional way, which I guess for me was partially lounging on a low chaise discussing with my colleagues various business engagements.

Mr. Fogg’s is famous for their ‘Tipsy Tea” and whilst I had not the time nor the inclination to order “an intriguing selection of Alcoholic Teas served alongside an exquisite array of elegant Sandwiches, Cakes, Pastries & Petit-Fours” at 17.37 on a Tuesday eve, I have no doubt that other members would find this offering most delightful.

As this was an unplanned late afternoon reconnaissance for a future Gin Club meeting, I have kept the details brief, but I can say that this is definitely a place that will certainly be revisited in an official capacity with the other members of Gin club in the coming weeks.

Mr Fogg's Butler's Gin and Fevertree Tonic

Mr Fogg’s Butler’s Gin and Fevertree Tonic

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Gin Joints

Drink here: The Viaduct Tavern, EC1

As the last Victorian Gin Palace standing in London,we couldn’t resist investigating and imbibing the gins on offer at The Viaduct Tavern. Located near St. Paul’s, in the heart of the City, this glorious pub is perfectly placed for an after-work or lunchtime gin.
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Image copyright to The Viaduct Tavern (kindly borrowed from their website)

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Image copyright to The Viaduct Tavern (kindly borrowed from their website)

With a range of craft gins available at the bar, served in delicate coppa glasses with exquisitely chosen garnishes and hand chipped ice that disappears in your drink, Fever Tree tonic… Well, there is little more a gin-lover can ask for of a gin joint.
The venue itself is steeped in history – formerly a jail, the historic pub still has five cells in the basement (so no fighting over the gin, then!). With original features throughout including scalloped chandeliers, ruby red relief ceilings and rich, copper tables – it lives up to its “gin palace” status without a sniff of pretentiousness.
The ambiance is laid back and intimate – the absence of pop music and bright lights making it a refined choice for a meet-up with old friends, colleagues or a relaxed date.
A handy booklet/ menu takes you through a gin flavour wheel, signature serves and the tasting menus – comprehensively compiled, but far less engaging than the wonderful bar staff who are ready with well informed, polite suggestions, when asked.
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Monkey47 and lemon twist. Image copyright The Gin Club.

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Hoxton gin with red grapefruit. Image copyright The Gin Club.

Alongside the house GinFusion, which was No. 3 infused with apple and pear, we also enjoyed several fantastic gins,
including:
  • Martin Miller’s
  • Chase Williams
  • Hoxton
  • Bath Tub Navy Strength
  • Monkey47
  • Hayman’s Old Tom
  • Gin Mare
  • Bloom
  • No. 3
  • Distillery 209
…as well as all the usual gin suspects and other spirits and alcohol for any in the party not drinking Gods good nectar.
The favourite of the night was difficult to choose (so many of our favourites were on the menu!) however the Martin Miller‘s garnished with coriander and cherry tomato made for a refreshing serve, whilst the Hoxton served with red grapefruit was suprising – our first try of the coconut and perfumed aromas and flavours in this unusual gin.
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Left to right: Bloom & Strawberry, Old Tom & pear, Gin Mare with basil & tomato, Chase Williams with pear.

The only crying shame of it all was last orders around were at 11pm when the bar became noticeably empty – the giant ice block had disappeared, the homemade ginfusion drunk and a fresh batch prepared for the next day.
All in all, we loved The Viaduct Tavern and look forward to our next visit. Highly recommended, 4 junipers out of 5!
If you’ve been, we’d love to hear what you thought – tweet us.
Follow The Viaduct Tavern on Twitter.
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