With or without sunshine you’ve got a winning experience for both gin enthusiasts and cocktail novices, a quintessentially British summer evening out and highly recommended.
Anyone who reads my 500 Days of Summers posts or follows me on Twitter knows I love gin. In fact the only drink I love more than gin is a gin cocktail, so Editor Adam’s pitch for me to attend Qcumber’s literary-inspired drink evening on-board the Electric Barge down Regent’s Canal wasn’t exactly a hard sell. But we had the tougher job of convincing my partner in crime, James (avid beer drinker and gin hater), that this was the gig for him. He does like cucumber though, so that was a start!
After a day of muggy rain, even my enthusiasm for outdoor London canal sightseeing was slightly dampened. But having arriving at Paddington with better weather and on seeing the Electric Barge decorated in a whimsical English-garden party style, I rallied.
We were given a gin or vodka with the classic Qcumber mixer – a blend of natural cucumber and sparkling spring water – to start before embarking on a four-course tasting menu of summer cocktails inspired by classic works of English literature, plus the story behind each drink.
My favourites were refreshing the Wind in the Willows and the savoury flavours of the Secret Garden. But even James was won over by the sweeter Pride and Prejudice (must be a Darcy fan, what can I say?!) and the zingy The Importance of Being Ernest. Don’t forget to try the cucumber nibbles either. Delicious!
And the setting for the evening was fantastic for a post-work tipple. Even with our decidedly less-than-summery weather, it was lovely to glide through the waters of Little Venice, past London Zoo (lots of comparisons of the aviary to Jurassic Park) and on to Camden for the two to three hour round trip.
Boarding the Electric Barge begins at 6.30pm and the trip starts at 7pm (be prompt, or you’ll be left on the banks of the canal), returning for 10pm.
Tickets: Available via YPlan app, £12 per ticket (limited number of tickets for sale on the door) https://yplanapp.com/
Dates, Friday 24 July, Thursday 30 July, Thursday 6 August, Thursday 30 August