Gin Journey – an evening on the town

This is primarily a food related blog but recently myself and @bmcboy took part in a fun experience which I thought worth sharing. I had purchased a voucher for him as a Christmas present for a ‘Gin Journey’ after seeing a mention of it on Time Out. For someone who likes gin like him, I thought the idea of spending a few hours across London being driven in a minivan and tasting a few different types of gin would be fun. The tour, run by drinks expert Leon Dalloway via his company Shake, Rattle and Stir, “costs £50 per person and includes 5 samples of gin, 5 cocktails, a chauffeured drive from bar to bar, no hangover and a ridiculous amount of fun.” Oh yes it does.

Photo by Shake, Rattle & Stir

On the night of our tour, we met at the first bar, the Blind Pig in Soho, where an area was reserved for us. Being a Wednesday night, I thought it quite peculiar that at 6.30pm, instead of my usual step class, I should be drinking gin!  The straight gin was quite pleasant, and I enjoyed it. It was Portobello Road No 171 Gin. Smooth, not too fruity. The cocktail wasn’t my favourite: The Carnival Weekender, made with Portobello Road no 171 gin, jerk distillate, apricot liqueur, lemon juice, egg white, ginger beer. I think the ginger beer and the egg white didn’t do it for me. Since the van was delayed due to traffic at this point we got an extra G&T, and why not!
We then moved off to the second bar of the night, a place I had heard of but not yet visited, in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral and not far from the law courts (a few barristers in sight, indeed). The City of London Distillery looks very vintage and very London, if such a thing can be said. Dark, old fashioned and with an impressing amount of gins. We of course, tasted the onsite produced City of London Dry Gin. A bit too dry for me I think but with strong juniper aroma, we then also tasted it in a classic G&T: City of London Dry Gin and Fever Tree Tonic with a slice of grapefruit. Worthy of a stop are the toilets here, loads of gin facts all over the walls. 

City of London Distillery

The next stop surprised me as I worked nearby for years and never became aware: Perkin Reveller, a bar and restaurant with views of the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge, a fabulous London proper spot. I even managed to see a real beefeater guard and that made my night. Here we drank a great gin, of course a Beefeater London Dry. The cocktail here was definitely of my liking, a Beefeater 24 Gin Spring Revival with Pineapple, Black Pepper and Sage infused Beefeater, house grenandine, accent of house anise tincture garnished with house a pineapple chutney and Lancashire Bomber cheese topped cracker. 
Really very good. We also ordered some food, which was decent (fantastic pork cracklings) at an extra £22 for both of us, still quite reasonable. Like Leon said, ‘eating is not cheating’ so I didn’t feel too guilty. I also still wasn’t drunk by now which I thought was quite amazing. 

Bespoke tonic

Next, another bar I wasn’t familiar with, in Shoreditch: Worship Street Whistling Shop. This reminded me of my addiction immersive theatre The Drowned Man. Dark, vintage, with an aura of mistery almost, I really liked the venue (described on their own site as “combining the charm of Victorian squalor with the elegance of grand Gin Palaces”. The gin was also produced on site (you can see the distillery room): Shoreditch Dodd’s Gin. And, served in a cute bottle with a bespoke label was The Ultimate Tonic, made with Dodd’s Gin and Tonic flavoured with black cardamom, bay leaf, lavender, raspberry, cassia and chinchona. We thought the tonic was way too herby and medicinal for our taste and didn’t finish the cocktail but I heard others in the group commenting this was their favourite drink of the night so far! De gustibus. 

The Anniversary

Finally, we moved onto our final stop, a place I knew of and wanted to visit, Calloh Callay (also in Shoreditch). While the venue was not as memorable as the previous one, the gin and the cocktail were the best. Martin Miller’s Gin and The Anniversary: Martin Miller’s Gin, rose salt, pink grapefruit, elderflower and prosecco garnished with a cucumber. Really very good, and light. Refreshing. 

Here the evening concluded. It was gone 11pm and we soon made our way home in a taxi, but we could have stayed longer. 
You do get to do the tour with a group of strangers and like at a supper club, sometimes you end up with a great group sometimes you don’t. Our group wasn’t particularly sociable despite the amount of alchool we drank, and we just didn’t click with one another (or maybe just me and @bmcboy didn’t) so it wasn’t as fun or raucous as it could have been, yet Leon was a great host. 

Leon Dalloway – photo by Shake, Rattle & Stir

He’s fun, knows his gin stuff, keeps the momentum going with little quizzes while on the van and he’s very friendly. You do get to learn lots of facts about gin and its history, how it is produced and what gives it its distinctive identity.

I couldn’t recommend this night out more if you like the London bar scene and especially if you like gin. I now know a bit more about the ‘mother’s ruin’ tipple that is so very London. It is great value at £50 per person. And it is true: no hangover the next day!

Email leon@shakerattleandstir.co.uk or call 07513 751814 to book your journey.

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