Tanqueray Gin has been around since 1830, it has survived two world wars, an era of prohibition and bathtub bootlegs, and the recession, but will it survive my review? And more importantly did I survive the review? Read on to find out…
Now I’m not a massive fan of gin – for me, it always evokes an Orwellian sense of Winston’s 1984 dystopia, or at least remind me of the nights I have experienced friends, colleagues and (quite frankly) complete strangers succumb to its tear inducing qualities. In 17th Century London it was believed to be safer to drink gin than tap water (a belief probably still held by most Londoners today), but it was a drink supposedly favoured by Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope. Being a sucker for this kind of marketing ploy I was sold – if it’s good enough for Frank, then it’s good enough for me. So when I was handed this invitation to an evening celebrating World Gin Day, I eagerly accepted. The evening promised a vintage jazz band, cocktails inspired by gin history, a barber, hairdressers AND a shoe shine…well it would be rude not to.
On arrival guests were greeted by a gentleman sporting a hilariously wonky pencil ‘tashe and hollering greetings in a questionable American accent. This humorous welcome served to set the tone of the evening, as inside there were more actors, presumably to add to the atmosphere, but after a couple of slightly awkward and jilted conversations, they became more of a slight irritation if not talking point.
The The Lucky Pig, in Fitzrovia itself was the perfect hideaway to host such an event, oozing a natural shabby chic. Its beautiful art deco lampshades, faded posters on exposed brickwork walls, and staged curiosities made it feel like you were in some kind of old town club that had been hidden for years.
After drinking in the atmosphere, I decided it was time to sample some of the specially mixed gin cocktails on offer. There were five to choose from – Ishakari fizz, Bloomsbury Bronx, Bee’s knees, flash of lightening, and a Tanqueray and Tonic. My favourite was the Bee’s knees, a Lavender infused cocktail delicately sweetened with honey, but delivering a refreshing sour lemon twist at the end. It was dangerously easy (and classy) to drink, and so worried that I may get too stuck into the Bee’s Knees, I decided to pick something else. I eventually settled on the Bloomsbury Bronx (chosen mainly for the name), a pink cocktail served with a single cherry. Whilst it most certainly looked the part, it didn’t taste it. The pretty cocktail was a tad too tart for my tastes and, much to the amusement of my friend, invoked a quick succession of facial expressions akin to that a bulldog might make were it chewing a handful of wasps.
Throughout the evening, there was a regular supply of various nibbles with a Tanqueray twist. Salmon in a cucumber encasing infused with Tanqueray Gin, mini welsh rarebit, and duck pate topped with a rhubarb and Tanqueray jam (Oof! don’t mind if I do), were just a few of the delicious and welcome delights on offer.
After sampling a few of the cocktails on offer, I decided that it was time to turn my attentions to Rockalilly cuts, who provided lovely vintage hairstyles for the ladies, and even managed to give my “rats nest” hair a touch of 1920’s glamour. I paid a visit to the friendly shoe shine, Daniel, who gave my Vagabond boots the shine of their life, and voyeuristically watched a man get his hair cut at Sharps Barber and Shop, who provided razor shaves and hair cuts for the evening.
It was around this point where The Top Shelf Band kicked in, making a nice change to the odd choice of ambient music that had been playing since we arrived. They had an authentic sound and seemed to capture the audience, especially those who were just arriving. In the middle of their set, there was a toast proposed to celebrate World Gin Day. This slightly dampened spirits, as it went on longer than was comfortable, but these were swiftly re-ignited by the free gin shooter handed out at the end of the toast.
As part of the Tanqueray gin experience, there was the opportunity to be given a private talk about its history and to sample some of the botanicals that go into making Tanqueray. We were taken into a candlelit cave (that I hadn’t even noticed before) for the talk, and sampled some Tanqueray, the only disappointing thing about this was that a comparative gin type or brand would have helped a novice, such as myself, appreciate the subtler qualities of gin.
Overall it was a fun night out, although it seemed to take a while to get comfortable in it’s own skin. The slightly awkward actors, the overlong speech, and the misplaced music at the beginning all turned out to be minor bumps. This is an event that I would like to see as a monthly event (sans the bumps) with a rotating carousel of vintage bands. The venue was ideal, the food well poised and the gin cocktails were deliciously mixed. I say that I’m not a massive fan of gin, but after my experience I could be happily persuaded. So Tanqueray for the gin, but not for the hangover…