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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Garnishes, How To Guides

How To: Garnish Your Gin

Remember when we only used to drink G&T’s with lime?

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Coldplay were the hottest thing since sliced bread, beards were out and cucumber was reserved for tiny sandwiches at The Ritz. The only way to serve our favourite tipple was with a green wedge of fresh lime. OK, you’d have a slice of lemon, at a push…. Fast forward to 2015 and we are far more familiar with elaborate garnishes that range from exotic fruits to fresh herbs to bacon – so what’s happened? Hint: there’s method to the fabulousness. It’s not *just* for decoration…

If we look back into the history of the gin & tonic, some suggest that in fact lime was added to help fight scurvy in the mid-1800’s, however this cannot be verified. But it could be why we have since so faithfully remained wed to lime. (For a an in-depth look at this history of the G&T, this is a very good article)

Then, Hendrick’s Gin was introduced with wildly unusual rose and cucumber botanicals – arguably kick-starting the craft gin alternative botanical trend. And they did something unheard of…. They recommended we drink their gin with a slice of cucumber! This was revolutionary!

What most of us didn’t (and arguably some still don’t) realise is that this wasn’t just marketing fluff or an attempt to be different; the reason Hendrick’s is served with cucumber is because it enhances the botanical profile of the gin. Ah-ha!

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Garnish is to gin as food is to wine – some things just go better together. My top recommendation for garnish experimenters would be to visit Julia and the team at The London Gin Club – these guys really know their gin. Coppa glass, premium ice and intelligently selected garnishes will open your palette to a whole new world of wonderful. Indeed, I will never forget enjoying my first GinMare garnished with basil and cherry tomato – it blew my mind and really made me think I could be more selective with my garnish choices.

Photo courtesy of The London Gin Club website (thelondonginclub.com)

Photo courtesy of The London Gin Club website (thelondonginclub.com)

If you can’t get down to London, here are the basic principles of garnish pairing:

  1. Complimentary flavours – a garnish that is the same or similar to the predominant botanical and enhances the botanical note i.e. Hendrick’s Gin’s predominant botanical is cucumber, therefor serve with a slice of cucumber
  2. Contrasting flavours – a garnish that is the opposite to the predominant botanical that provides a unique take on the entire profile of the gin i.e. Sacred Cardamom is spicey, dry and peppery and served with a sweet slice of orange or ruby red grapefruit gives you a different perspective on the flavours

Additionally, our friends at The Craft Gin Club have been collating responses from distillers to create a definitive list of garnishes – a great place to start. Who knows better than the distillers themselves?

Finally, an important thing to say is let’s not get too puritanical here… garnish as you please and go for things you like. I can’t handle too much gin snobbery… let’s be aware, and then do as we like. Gin is much more about personal preference and enjoyment than rules. If you discover something that works really well, drop us a line on Twitter and tell us about it  @the_gin_club

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