We’ve been on a few gin journeys of our own over the years, some intended upon departure, others the result of an over exuberant desire to try out new places and new gins – sometimes much regretted the following morning… So, it was with great pleasure that we went on Shake Rattle and Stir’s Gin Journey, a guided tour around a few of London’s Gin joints with expert tuition along the way…
Our Gin Journey began on a chilly Wednesday night in what was destined to be a great adventure through London’s intertwined history with gin. We were ready to tackle five cocktails in five different bars dotted around town.
Fresh from work, we were summoned to meet at a fashionable, but oh-so intriguing bar called Mr. Fogg’s in Mayfair. We must confess that we had been before but a bar of this caliber never ceases to surprise with new detail found in every crevice. There, we made the acquaintance of our maître d for the evening, Leon Dalloway. Founder of Shake Rattle and Stir, Leon has been in the business for many years now working for Beautiful Drinks and closely on Martin Miller’s Gin. Originally from Leicester, Leon moved down to London in order to build his new venture. Gin Journey is his first undertaking so expect more in years to come..!
Comfortably sat down in one of Mr. Fogg’s very intriguing African inspired chairs, we were excited at the idea of being presented with our first gin of the evening, Elephant Gin. At the time of writing, this gin was a very recent addition to the ever-expanding gin market which you can read the full review by clicking right here. We won’t dive into the details of the gin, but it was with great pleasure that we were served their signature cocktail, The Cape of Good Hope. Quite the mouthful in both name and taste, it was a great kick-off to the evening. A citrus forward cocktail from the lime and lemon juice, but topped with tonic and garnished with a spring of thyme. Refreshing but the only downside to the cocktail was the bamboo straw that towards the end had disintegrated, and we were left with no choice but to finish the cocktail without it. To be fair – there are worse problems to have mid-week..!
Leon rallied the group and presented us with Elephant Gin. He showed the group how to enjoy gin neat and what to look for in both the nose and taste, which is always useful when talking about gin and its various botanicals. Before we knew it our time was up and we were off to our next stop and in order to get there all safely and at the same time, Leon’s chosen carriage was a minivan (a luxurious van we admit) whereby Leon embarked on recounting the vast history of gin to the group. From the very early beginnings of gin as a medicine all the way to William the Orange popularising Genever in England, we heard the most important parts – quite a difficult task considering how far reaching gin’s history really is.
The history lesson was cut short when we arrived earlier than expected at our second destination of the evening, COLD bar (City of London Distillery). COLD is a working distillery and full-on cocktail bar and we must say that having gone there recently, the atmosphere has greatly improved from its early days. Leon presented us all with a Gin & Tonic made with COLD Gin, Fever-Tree and garnished with a wedge of grapefruit while talking us through the distilling process. A very complex but beautiful mechanism made simple by the awe-inspiring stills on display at COLD, Jennifer and Clarissa, which illustrated each of Leon’s points emphatically.
With the G&T’s down the hatch and our minds drifting, we were all told to head to the minivan to head to our third stop for a little spot of dinner. Nestled under Tower Bridge is a restaurant called The Perkin Reveller, with views both on the bridge, the Thames and of the well-known guards known as the Beefeaters. A great segment into our next gin aptly named Beefeater, Leon presented us with one of the longest running gins currently available on the market. After a little more history under our belt, we were presented the Monkey Glass cocktail that unfortunately turned out to be a disappointment, as it was too fruity and the garnish felt over the top. The food on the other hand was a very welcomed stop in our gin journey, as our heads were starting to turn a little hazy with juniper.
Following dinner we hopped back onto our Gin bus and after a few more historical nuggets from Leon, we landed straight in Worship Street’s Whistling Shop. This speakeasy has become a staple of the Shoreditch cocktail scene and is one we love going back to due to its atmosphere. In serious need of a palate cleanser and a little pick me up, we were handed a sample of Dodd’s Gin along with a cocktail born from Leon’s collaboration with the Whistling Shop. The Dodd’s “Ultimate” Gin & Tonic was presented in a very beautiful medicinal bottle but the cocktail left us wanting more. It wasn’t the cocktail per say, but the fact that this was our third G&T or variant on a G&T that we were handed. Leon told us about the history behind Dodd’s Gin and the London Distillery Company (you can read our full review of Dodd’s by clicking here.)
After slurping down the rest of our cocktails and almost nicking the medicinal bottle it came in – Almost, we wouldn’t actually do that! – we then headed for our final stop at Callooh Callay. Callooh has won multiple awards over the years thanks to the stewardship of Andrea Montague and the amazing bar team there consistently producing quality cocktails and menus. Andrea has since moved on to new pastures and is part of consultancy Forgotten Hospitality but thankfully, the bar has stayed true and gone from strength to strength.
Our final dram of the evening was the ever refreshing Martin Miller’s Gin and with that Leon recounted some experiences working for them over the last couple of years as an ambassador. Our cocktail was presented in a modified converse shoe in an ode to the man himself, Mr. Miller, who loved wearing these trainers everyday. Extremely well presented both as the cocktail (you don’t see a cocktail served in a shoe that often) and by Leon himself, we were left with a very fulfilled feeling that we, along with the group, had conquered the London bar scene.
It was a pleasure going on this Gin Journey with Leon and learning more about him and his past experiences, as well as revisiting some great bars in London. For the cost of £50 we would say it was worth its price tag and we definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about gin, its history in London and the London cocktail bar scene. The only thing we’d love to see is perhaps a more intense version for us geeky gin lovers, a session that would delve deeper into the London bar scene and the new cocktails that are rocking it. Having said that, this might be what’s coming up next in Leon’s plan for a “London Gin Experience” and we certainly will be the first to keep our ears pricked to hear more about it.
If you’d like to book a Gin Journey with Leon, then click here to book tickets. Check out the other offerings from Shake, Rattle and Stir too for other fun activities with gin at the core. Have fun and enjoy!
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