The tastes of Elizabethan London Tasting Event 12th April

elizabethan london panorama

The London Gin Club is delighted to be working with the CityRead project this April. We have created a unique tasting event in conjunction with CityRead’s chosen book this year, Prophecy, an Elizabethan thriller by S.J. Parris.

We will take you on a journey back in time to explore the history and tastes of 16th century Europe and London including the links between alchemy, witchcraft, spirits and along the way unravel the genesis of gin.

In this 90 minute whistle-stop journey you will sample a series of historic tipples: Aqua Vita, Strong waters, Purl, Genever and finish off with an Old Tom.

The event will be held here at the London Gin club on Wednesday 12 April 2017. Tickets are £32 in advance and can be bought from our friends at London Peculiar here >> The tastes of Elizabethan London Tasting Event 

About Cityread
Cityread London is a celebration of the power of reading to bring communities together.It is celebrated every April, across all of London’s 33 boroughs, with libraries at its heart. Our 2017 book is Prophecy by S. J. Parris, a gripping Elizabethan spy thriller set in London 1583.

Cityread invites you read Prophecy by S.J. Parris and step into the crowded, dirty and dangerous streets of Elizabethan London. Meet maverick thinker and ex-monk Giordano Bruno, as he’s enlisted by royal spymaster Francis Walsingham to uncover a plot to overthrow Queen Elizabeth.

Immerse yourself in Elizabethan intrigue and train as one of Walsingham’s spies in our interactive performances at The Charterhouse; discover the origins of 16th century gin and the secrets of Dr John Dee’s library; hear S.J. Parris talk about life in London in the 1500s in conversation with historian Tracy Borman at Lambeth Palace, and at local library events.

Read extracts of the book on our website and download the ebook for free from your library. For more information about all the City Read events and the book follow their link here Cityread



A purly punch on the nose

dickens cocktails

Happily once again we have been asked by our friends at the Dickens Museum to do a tasting, this time based around the contents of Dickens drinks cellar and forgotten Victorian cocktails. Lucky for us, Dickens had an 18 gallon cask of gin in his cellar (good man!) and was a prodigious and expert gin punch maker so we were confident there would be much to tickle our fancy in this collaboration. What we did not realise is just how interesting this journey would be, as Dickens novels and his own drinking habits illustrate the evolution of English drinking – as the late Georgian leisurely conviviality of the punch bowl made way for the Victorian efficiency of glass based cocktails.

Along the way we have perfected a fantastic purl. A drink mentioned in a number of Dickens novels and that in Victorian times was sold to labourers on the river. The ring of the purlmans bell would signal the availability of warm porter, gin and ginger. This was fertile ground, the vast array of craft porters, from smoked, London and coffee had us reaching for the many gins on our shelves until we hit on a winning pairing. A Dog’s nose is a hasty purl, being cold and wet like the proverbial!

Dickens was also an expert punch maker who  “brewed a bowl of punch, an accomplishment in which he stood pre-eminent” and some time with his correspondence reveals he was partial to gin punch, for which both he and his father had a singular reputation. This sets the bar quite high, however we were intrigued to discover that Dickens had a secret weapon – borage, and so we have riffed on his punch habits to perfect a most singular receipt.

Most interestingly of all is that Dickens was a cocktail drinker – he was introduced to American ‘sensation drinks’ on his reading tours of the USA in 1842 and 1867 where he was acquainted with the Gin-sling, Cock-tail, Sangaree, Mint Julep, Sherry-cobbler, Rocky Mountain sneezer and the Eye-Opener – which he described as “rare drinks” and “meritorious drams”. Cocktails were originally anti-fogmatics, taken in the morning to preserve from the effects of the damp and unwholesome air. Dickens did write home that

“Did I tell you that my landlord made me a drink (brandy, rum, and snow the principal ingredients) called a “Rocky Mountain sneezer?” Or that the favourite drink before you get up is an “eye- opener”?

However we were heartened to discover this singular quote “Last night I was drinking gin-slings till daylight, with Buckstone of all people, who saw me looking at the Spanish dancers, and insisted on being convivial.” What can we say, Spain being the birth-place of the copa serve – all things are circles in circles, with a drop of Madame Geneva putting all thing in perspective.

Tickets for Dog’s Nose & Shandygaff: an evening of forgotten cocktails can be bought from the Dickens Museum. And look out for our new tasting event tasting event based on historic drinks.

Roaring Noon 1922

Roaring Noon

In May 2016 we were asked by Professor Sarah Churchwell if we could partner her in producing a very special, unique gin.

Sarah is a Professor of American Literature at the School of Advanced study, University of London, and also the author of Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and The Invention of The Great Gatsby. As part of her researches she came across a recipe for bathtub gin, written down by the king of the jazz age himself. If ever there were a carrot, this was the big one!

Not only that, Fitzgerald probably wrote the recipe down during the months his great novel immortalizes: he once said 1922 was the year of his ‘own first and last manufacture of gin.’ So, without doubt, Sarah had stumbled across the real deal.

I immediately contacted Ian Hart of Sacred Gin and asked if it were possible to produce the gin on a small scale to see how it held up. Within 3 weeks we had the spirit in our hands and were able to experience it ourselves. For Sarah this was realising the dream of recreating a gin that had been lost in the archives for almost 100 years. For us it was an extraordinary opportunity to taste a genuine prohibition gin and being a part of its revival.

And so “Roaring Noon 1922” was born. It faithfully recreates the recipe Fitzgerald kept, bottled at a punchy, ‘prohibition strength’ 67% no less!

And so how does Roaring Noon taste? It is smooth, clean and fresh, surprisingly so for such a high ABV. Whilst it only uses 3 botanicals its flavour is satisfying and complex. It is a great sipping gin, and works fantastically well in short cocktails. It makes an exceptional Martini, and we have created some great unique takes on the Tuxedo and the South Side.

We think it’s as elegant and formidably powerful as one would hope from a gin that invokes the glamour, excitement and daring of jazz-age America.

And why is it called Roaring Noon? In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald describes entering a cellar speakeasy in New York in the summer of 1922. The time…? “Roaring Noon.” So here is “Roaring Noon 1922”, a genuine Prohibition strength bathtub gin, from a recipe treasured by the King of the Jazz Age.

So come to the London Gin Club to try a genuine prohibition gin or why not buy yourself a bottle to sip at home whilst dancing the Charleston!

Gin Review: Poetic License Northern Dry & Old Tom

poetic license gins

We’ve been big fans of Poetic License gin since we first became aware of it at the start of this year. Hailing from up north they recently made a trip down to the big smoke and we were fortunate to meet the distiller and discuss the most serious matter of gin. It has to be said that distillers generally are a passionate bunch; however the Poetic License team take it to the next dimension. Young, creative and bringing new dimensions to our spirit of choice… we are big fans. And so we have to apologise that it has taken us so long to review their fabulous gins, so in this review we bring you two for the price of one: Poetic Licence Northern Dry and Poetic License Old Tom… many distillers are creating Old Toms and so we thought it would be interesting to try these side by side so see how they compare.

Northern Dry

On the nose, the Northern Dry is lively, punchy and heady: leading with camphory juniper with an underlying cardamom spice.

Tasted neat the cardamom immediately packs a punch, bold, bold, bold, with an invigorating eucalyptus juniper close on its heels. This yields to a lovely bitter dryness with a long pepper linger with real heat. This gin is not shy but it certainly is not brash, it is confident, strong and sophisticated.

With tonic the nose is still strong and the same profile persists: the cardamom punch, camphor juniper spine and long dry pepper linger. This is a lip-smacking and more-ish gin, bold, confident and dashing. It makes a fantastic gin and tonic, which we garnish with celery and lemon.

Old Tom

On the nose the overall volume is lower and more subtle than the northern dry, there is an immediate sweetness with earthy tangs of angelica.

Tasted neat the first notes are sweet and perfumed: clear lavender rose top notes followed by a juniper oaky spine. This gives way to a pepper tingle in a dry, dry linger.

With tonic the sweetness opens out, the profile remains the same: a juniper oaky middle with a fine dry pepper linger. This is a confident Old Tom. Not content to simply sweetening the profile of the Northern Dry, the Poetic License team have really looked at botanicals and how they may have been used creatively in the past. We would put this on the dry side of an old tom, however it is a genuinely refreshing sweet floral gin that makes a great gin and tonic that we garnish with apple and rose. These are both great gins, vive le Northern powerhouse!





Gin review: Isle of Harris 45% abv

Isle of harris gin

Our bar manager Jamie makes an annual trip to the Edinburgh festival, and this year he stumbled across a distinctive gin made by a new Scottish social distillery on the Isle of Harris. He came back singing its praises and since Jamie knows his onions, we decided to seek it out.

Isle of Harris Gin uses 9 botanicals: Juniper, Coriander, Angelica Root, Orris Root, Cubeb, Bitter Orange Peel, Liquorice, Cassia Bark and locally sourced Sugar Kelp. There are a few gins that use maritime botanicals and so we were curious how this gin would hold up. When it arrived we were immediately impressed by the bottle: a beautiful, bespoke blue twist which evokes the sea, with a heavy solid base, much like a chunky premium whiskey tumbler. So do the contents live up to the packaging?

The nose is bold, heady and vibrant, singing out from the glass like a sirens call. Lavender floral juniper in the top notes with a savoury, herbal undertow.

Tasted neat the lead is a strong floral and piney juniper. This is quickly followed by dry spice almost like fresh nutmeg (this must be a combination of the citrus peel and cassia) rounding out in the linger to a full sweetness with grapefruit notes.

With tonic the nose stays strong and the ‘sea-ness’ comes through. What is most interesting is that the flavour profile reverses. Sweet fruit leads with an underlying scaffold of savoury herbal notes. The gin becomes creamy, with a clean peely citrus-bitter linger with pepper sparkling like the sun on wet shingle.

The distiller set out to capture the elemental and maritime nature of the Isle of Harris and this gin, from the bottle to the glass, does just that. A genuine sweet-savoury gin, which is quite rare if not unique. Enjoyable on the rocks as well as making a damn fine gin and tonic which works well with grapefruit peel garnish.  You can find it on our new autumn / winter menu. We raise our glass to the Isle of Harris Distillery.

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