Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Brockmans: Make mine a big one


Us ladies adore receiving the odd surprise through our letterbox, and we were simply overcome one morning when we came across a bottle of Brockmans standing erect, awaiting us in all its slick-bottled glory.

Brockmans has had a bit of a pounding by the gin purists. Kevan Crosthwaite, the big daddy of Brockmans, believed he could create an edgy gin that could be enjoyed long and late into the night with friends. As you can imagine such late night debauchery is quite a departure for ladies like we, so in order to rise to the occasion I called upon the services of one of the most upstanding gentlemen of the east London scene, a certain Mr Russ Tannen, and thrust myself into his care.

It was getting late and so we got down to business. I poured slowly, we were both enraptured as we watched the smooth aromatic gin flow down into the nether regions of our highballs, mingling with the ice and ripe lime wedges. Next it was the tonic which, aided by Russ’ firm yet gentle touch, gushed forth into my receptacle.

He had a stiff one, I had a wet one. We both noted the ripe burst of blueberry and blackberry this cheeky little gin offered up in olfactory foreplay. We could barely ignore it. Not a London Dry, Brockmans feels more like an Old Tom. It’s sweet, fruity even, and we experimented. Straight up, over ice, this way, that way... The later it got the more insatiable we became.

The morning after, and the air was still thick with the heady mix of Brockmans and Marlboro Reds. We arose. We looked at each other nervously. Was it all just a dream? I asked him to fill me in. He couldn’t. I blushed, removed the ash from my hair, delicately inserted myself onto a 149 bus and journeyed home, 6 limes lighter.

Brockmans is available at  The Ladies advise practicing safe drinking - Always wear stomach protection.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Under the Ginfluence

There has been something resembling a three week delay on this post due to rather a run of bad luck for the ladies. Doctor's prescription for the gloom: Gin by mouth.

That is our half hearted attempt at saying better late than never as we proceed to tell you about the gin ladies' "missing week".

Under the good ginfluence of Craig Harper and his friend Emma (rum and gin expert) we went on a bar hop round town; quick cocktails at Just St. James, then on to the infinitely better Dukes. An institution. A warm welcome from Alessandro, what followed can only be described as effortless magician style mixing and the consumption of delicious, giant martinis on empty stomachs. Ian Fleming discovered the martini here apparently. We discovered a cashew shaped like a penis. Ladies and gentlemen we can only apologise. These things find us. However, if you enjoy that type of smut we can highly recommend the Knoblog. Less said about that the better, back to gin.

Next stop was a party for gin doyenne Geraldine Coates. She launched her new book The Mixellany Guide to Gin which proves to be a great little gincylopedia of brands, history, botanicals and recipes. The great and good of the gin world were out in force, the location was the beautiful Georgian cellars of Berry Bros & Rudd and most importantly we drank the soon to be launched No 3 St James London Dry Gin a Berry Bros own brand. When Geraldine says this is a classic, we think she's right. 46% ABV ourselves by this point, we stumbled, signed books in hand, to an unnamed pub. Unnamed only because things were a little hazy at this point.

We scooped up the dapper cocktail expert Jay Hepburn and headed for more cocktails at Quo Vadis alongside a spot of light pool playing. As we're ladies we won't say who won, but in a private joke sort of a way - Craig and Jay there is a promise never to mention the f-word in your most excellent company and promise to selves to eat something before drinking 8 gins next time round...

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Race you to the deep end!

And so: to 33 Portland Place for the Ladies of the Lane, the temporary and extraordinary home of the Courvoisier Architectural Punchbowl. Created by the brilliantly bonkers Bompas & Parr, the Punchbowl is a drinkable installation – the very best kind, I believe. So overwhelmed were we by the idea of 4,000 litres of Booze that we didn’t really mind the plastic aprons or hairnets…

A rare glimpse at the true identities of the Ladies of the Lane as we titted about in hairnets

The Emperor’s Shrub is indeed a fine cocktail, created by Joe McCanta of Saf, with assistance from the really very lovely Alex James, Punch Sampler, sorry ‘Taste Consultant’ Extraordinaire (how does one get a job like that? I know some Ladies who would be perfect.) Always health conscious, we were delighted to find actual fruit in our drinks, plus a delicate spice that was positively Christmassy (just 15 days to go until the biggest annual excuse to get totally titted).

And as to the experience itself? Well. If you could avoid the presence of the inevitable Slutty Slutbag who managed to position herself ever so delicately on the orange float within the bowl whilst many men took pictures (you know there’s always one), it was really rather fun. None of the Ladies were brave enough to board the orange float itself (it looked slightly precarious, and one must preserve one’s modesty at all costs), but we had a jolly nice chat with a rather handsome barman sat on the side of the bowl itself, and entertained ourselves by willing someone to fall in. I won’t dwell on the less than salubrious stuck-in-the-80’s hotel that the Ladies went on to for a double Tanqueray and tonic, but suffice it to say that it was late when we got home and the night bus was frightful.

The whole thing is also rather virtuous as proceeds go to charity AND it has real historic precedent: in 1694, a gargantuan punchbowl was created by a true innovator with booze, Admiral Edward Russell, complete with serving boy in a boat. Admiral, we salute you (and will overlook the fact that you married your own cousin. Ho hum).

We do applaud the Bompas & Parr approach to the alcoholic beverage – it’s not so much about drinking it as submersing oneself in it – becoming One With The Booze if you will. Their Alcoholic Architecture project with Hendrick's saw the first ‘walk-in’ drink – a vaporised gin and tonic no less. Now why don’t they bottle that and sell it complete with nose-bag? I’d buy one.

For all these good things, Bompas, Parr, we think that you are very clever indeed and would like to be invited to all your parties please.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Towards a Drunken State

We've seen the future, and the future is in Dalston.

Well, at least for one night this weekend it was anyhow.  Off up the Kingsland Road we ventured on Saturday night to Towards a Fluid State; a food and drink experience held in an ex-motor something or other, complete with exposed brickwork, slightly frightening alley entrance and a glorious feel of the unfinished which we ladies find so very appealing.

In its essence, Towards a Fluid State is a trade fair, but this is a far from accurate description.  Are you welcomed to The Good Food Show by 6'5" harajuku-style drag queens?  Do you have the pleasure of watching rather niche, semi-naked performance art at Taste London?  No, of course not.  And that's because to draw comparisons between these fluorescent-lit-forty-something-fests and Towards a Fluid State is ridiculous.

As you wander through the venue, you can stop off at various points of your journey for a 'fluid encounter' - which, by the way, we feel is a charming new term for getting off one's tits.  These encounters were each based around matching a boozy drink (sake, cognac, wine, whiskey and GIN) with taster-sized morsels of the highest quality foods, from foodmongers such as Saf, La Fromagerie and Bacchus to name but a few.

Now, I wish I could tell you much, much more about the standard of the sake or the credibility of the cognac, but truth be told as soon as the words 'gin room' hit my eardrums that was where I was.  And what better place to spend an evening, surrounded by a good old-fashioned feast prepared by Bacchus (pork belly stuffed with black pudding, roast chicken, roast potatoes, meat-in-meat-in-meat), being ladled glasses of Hot Gin Punch by the wonderful Sam from Sipsmith while the air was gently filled with baroque loveliness from live harp and flute.  This was all followed by a 'Reverse Gimlet' using Haymans' new 1820 Gin Liqueur, and a superb molecular gin cocktail made by none other than JJ Goodman of London Cocktail Club, which used Williams Chase Distillery's brand new apple based gin, which launched that very day! 

Towards a Fluid State is the brainchild of Hayley Sudbury and Angella Newell of The Tasting Sessions, and we certainly cannot wait for what they come up with next.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Streamlining in high spirits

Tatty Devine Gilbert & George Gin Cufflinks - available at

Fresh from our travels we Ladies have proven that we will happily travel great distances, to the other side of the world and back if need be, in search of a fine gin. That said, we of course welcome the prospect of a shorter commute, and when we were kindly invited along to Bibulous last week we were delighted at the prospect of stomping the sodden streets of SE1 with one of our chums from the CultureLabel gang... a little closer to home than Gin Gin.

Sponsored by The Drinks Shop, billed as ‘The Drinks Experience’ and held within one of the spaces of the sprawling Vinopolis, Bibulous was a pop-up paradise of alcoholic delight. Without teetering more than 10 metres in any one direction we were afforded the luxury of sampling exceptional wines, whiskeys, rums, vodkas and tequilas alike. The clear highlight of course was the Gin Tasting Masterclass held by the Grande Dame of gin, and the lady behind the exceptional Gin Time, Geraldine Coates.

In the spirit of streamlining one’s activities, The Drink Shop and CultureLabel will be the only places we venture this side of Christmas. The Drink Shop stocks a mouth-watering array of gins (yes yes, and other spirits, but with 71 gins on offer who needs anything else?!), and why mix with the riff-raff on Oxford Street when you can purchase the most cultural of gifts at the click of a button on CultureLabel?

All that’s left to do now is to sit back with a cold Martini and bask in the warm glow of our own virtuousness. It is ruddy cold out there after all.