Monday, 30 November 2009

Gin Leave

Feeling confident after our surprise Australian gin discovery, we used our best research techniques and typed the words 'gin' and 'Sydney' into Google.  You know, just to see what would happen.  The result was far better than expected.  While there is no bar in London (as far as we know) that is proud enough to call itself a gin bar, in Sydney we stumbled off the flight and straight into the Gin Garden.  A veritable oasis with tall bamboos, exposed bricks, classical columns and, what's this?  The Australian Bombay Sapphire Design Discovery Awards entries displayed around the bar.  Bombay Sapphire, we simply must stop bumping into each other like this, people will think there is something going on!

We pride ourselves on our noses for gin, and we're pretty good at sniffing out a party too - we'd turned up on the evening of the awards dinner where the winner was being announced by Maarten Baas.  By this point my companion had retired to bed... a lady alone in a gin bar?  There was only one thing for it.

First step was to meet the utterly charming barman Pete.  This is also getting slightly absurd, are 9 out of 10 barmen who prefer gin called Pete?  He proved knowledgeable, a dab hand with a cocktail shaker, and we kicked off with a Gimlet to break the ice.  Pete's favourite cocktail is the Martini, but rather enjoys making the 'Aviation' and his favourite gin is Martin Millers.

This lady returned to a table with a good view of the design and was soon joined by a small group of Aussies, including one lady whose Surrey accent returned on speaking to another Pom, a producer chap, and a lady who I was reliably informed used to be the stunt double for Xena Warrior Princess...

I digress.. The winner was announced shortly after - Peppered Sunlight by Rohan Nicol.  To celebrate, a Blush was demolished, then a Tom Collins and then this lady was forced to wend her way home via a certain takeaway which put the kybosh on her original plan to have a late night sophisticated Collins Clover cocktail in Zeta Bar, who serve speciality vintage cocktails in vintage glassware!  We also love the sound of their vintage cocktail nights and their Heston-inspired experimental cocktails

Next time, next time...

Sunday, 22 November 2009

More Moore's please barkeep

Arriving in Airlie Beach this particular lady was described as looking a little bit like "Anna Wintour entering a crack house" by her traveling companion.  Expected beach bars, gentle candlelight, seafood and cocktails she was greeted by something more like Ibiza Uncovered.  Kebab shops; check.  Loud music from the nineties; check.  Boozed up Brits; check.  The breakfast cafes even committed the unforgivable sin of mentioning the H word...  Hangovers should neither be seen nor heard and if you must have one it should be managed discreetly with a headscarf, large sunglasses and pleasant company.

Heading for the infamous Rum Bar we resisted the temptation to work our way though over 90 rums and against all the odds we were in luck!  The bar had run out of the house gin so we were treated to an Australian concoction - Moore's Vintage Dry Gin.

Yes, the barman made it rocket-fuel strength, but this was a delicious gin flavoured with Australian botanicals, many from New South Wales where this gin is distilled.  Juniper of course, combined with lemon, lime and more unusually plum and myrtle.  And because we're gin geeks we like the fact Distiller Philip Moore is a herb expert and worked his way through 250 herbs before he settled on these 7.  We tried it with tonic, and if we hadn't been nudged the wrong side of tipsy by the sun and the strength, we definitely would have gone on to try a Moore's Martini.

This gin is truly scrumptious, and we made our way back to Sydney with a bottle for the road.

(and for the final instalment - our Lady in Oz travels back to Sydney to prop up the bar at the Bombay Sapphire Design Discovery Awards!)

Monday, 16 November 2009

The Long Road to Gin Gin

Is there anywhere the intrepid Ladies of the Lane won't go in search of gin?  This time Australia beckoned, and as well as the usual hot sunny beaches, the chucking of shrimps on barbies and messing about on boats, one lady spent a significant amount of time on the hunt for gin.

Gin round-up-down-under?  Well.

Gordon's on the plane, Gordon's in the hotel bar (truthfully, the only novelty here was the fondly remembered old red and yellow packaging last seen in the UK many moons ago), Tanqueray and Hendrick's available in most bars, a worrying trend toward pre-mixed Gordon's in bottles.  Sorry Gordon's, we love you, but this tasted more like a Jif and Tonic...

The perfect Martini sipping opportunity arose whilst watching a silent Three Musketeers in The Majestic - a glorious 1920s theatre in isolated Pomona.  Alas, this Lady had learned her lesson and refused a pre-mixed can of G&T, but if the wonderful Ron who played the accompanying organ is reading this; we'd love vintage cocktails next time.

And finally, was a trip to the temptingly named Gin Gin necessary?  Saved by Google we discovered Gin Gin wasn't the town of dreams with gin pouring from the taps like water, but an Aboriginal term for thick red soil.  Nasty soil and tonic situation averted, and the search for gin continued further north...

(stay tuned for the further adventures of our Lady in Oz...)

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Martin Miller, Agatha Christie and Roger Moore walked into a bar...

The Ladies of the Lane left their usual East End haunts and headed 'up West' on Wednesday to make their debut appearance into the wonderful world of Martin Miller's Gin, at the breathtaking Miller's Residence.  Martinis were of course the order of the day at this masterclass led by the charming and insanely knowledgeable Craig Harper, and we proceeded to enjoy a taster menu of Martinis through the ages.  Martin Miller himself popped in to welcome us, and explain a little about the 10-year story of his very own gin.

It felt a lot like the start of a house party in an Agatha Christie, and the cast included a classic English gent in tweed, The 'Reverend' Rum, a Roger Moore (Bond years!) look-a-like and some impossibly pretty French girls.  We took our seats at the huge dining table and were immediately presented with Martini number one - a 'Martini De Lux' - which demonstrated the somewhat divine ratio of seven parts Martin Miller's gin to one part Noilly Prat dry vermouth.

Craig was assisted in his cocktail making by members of the party, and one of the Ladies, though slightly flustered, was delighted to be taught how to make a 'Harry's Dry Martini' (Martin Miller's, Noilly Prat dry, Peychaud bitters, Curacao), although her 'dash' technique left little to be desired.

Now, after Mr Wynd offered his penis up for perusal earlier this week, we had hoped to avoid any further impropriety.  However, the Ladies seem to attract this sort of naughtiness and sure enough a gentleman to our right took advantage of a silence and asked poor Mr Harper what his views were on 'rimming'.  Of course he meant running a lime around the top of the glass, but the ladies could not quite look him in the eye for the rest of the evening.  Our desire to remain composed was not aided at this point by impending squiffiness and a growing propensity toward uncontrolled giggling. 

We ended the evening with a 'Super Dry Martini Doble'.  Alas, this heady, double-measure gin and absinthe mixture proved, ultimately, to be the murder weapon.

(Pst.. Book yourself on to one of these masterclasses AT ONCE!  Visit Martin's website for more info...)

Monday, 2 November 2009

Spirit forces at work at the Hendrick's Quarterly Seance

Is anybody there?  We're getting a name.  It's, it's... it's Hendrick's.  We never miss the chance to channel spirits, so earlier this very evening the Ladies were in attendance at the Hendrick's Quarterly Seance, held at the Little Shop of Horrors, the Last Tuesday Society's bonkers headquarters in east London.

You may recall our last brush with the cross-dressing, cucumber-wielding, glory-holed Last Tuesday Society bunch at the Hendrick's masked ball back in September.  This encounter was no less strange, held in the esteemed Viktor Wynd's showroom; a jumble of mutilated soft toys, animal skeletons, mummified penises and other such glorious tat.  All available to purchase, for that perfect stocking filler for Nan.

After a warm greeting from Mr Wynd himself, and a generous offer to see his penis (see 'mummified' above, thank heavens), we were led into a back room by Professor Richard Wiseman and swiftly transported, via a double Hendrick's and tonic, to a reenactment of a Victorian seance.  Sat in total darkness, guided only by little glow-in-the-dark stickers on the incongruous selection of objects scattered on the table, we marveled as our new spirit friend 'Marie' touched the bell (snigger), moved the maracas (chortle) and had a good old play with the ball (snort).

Keep your eye out for more loony goings-on on the Last Tuesday Society website.  Reckon we might stick to the alcoholic spirits from now on though.