I like gin. A lot. I’ve gone slightly overboard on gin – once spending far too much time at a free Hendricks Bar at a do at Battersea Power Station, resulting in severe illness the following day. On another occasion, I even managed to go over the top on ‘gin in a tin’ – you know, those cans of pre-mixed gin and tonic – after a tough day of work. In case you didn’t know, I can vouch for the fact that there’s far more than one shot of gin per can. Do NOT drink four in quick succession unless you want to end up being sick in a flower bed later that night.
Despite these comedy events, I’ve never been put off gin. It’s my drink of choice, especially in summer. I’m a fan, but I definitely can’t claim to be any kind of aficionado, so when the wonderful Brumderland got together with the guys from Bitters’n’Twisted to offer a load of bloggers a chance to learn more about gin at the great Jekyll & Hyde, how could I say no? If I had, I’m pretty sure it would have rendered those years of commitment to the cause, including the unhappy endings on a few occasions, pointless.
I’ve been to the Jekyll & Hyde before. Well suited to Brumderland, it’s an Alice in Wonderland experience. Cocktails in jars and a stunning array of weird and wonderful spirits behind the bar, it’s a great place for drinks at any time. But upstairs it gets even better, with a Victorian gin parlour that I’ve been dying to go to for a while now.
Here you can enjoy a ‘Cocktail Chemistry’ masterclass, have dinner followed by some casual gin drinking, or try the Eat Me Drink Me gin and food fusion menu. According to the manager, the aim is that the upstairs at the Jekyll is completely different to downstairs – think Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. And it certainly is.
From the cool, casual downstairs, once you disappear through the thick curtain into the gin parlour it really is a bit like Alice disappearing down the rabbit hole. It’s a place of whimsy and extravagant gin-based fun, with plush red chairs, low-lighting, and picture-adorned walls. We were greeted by our tutors for the evening with a gin and tonic before we took our places at long tables to learn all there is to learn about my favourite tipple.
First G&Ts down the hatch, we started with one of the parlour’s signature cocktails, Madam Genever’s Bathwater. Yes, it comes in a bathtub. A great move to encourage a social atmosphere as each of us helped ourselves to a glug by dipping our tiny glasses into the tub.
It’s not just about the booze here, but a whole gin-infused a la carte menu. While the menu downstairs changes every three months, up here it’s different each month – with dishes designed to go well with gin, many even using it.
We tried the mushroom risotto and red snapper. Picture-perfect dishes perfectly in keeping with the extravagant surroundings of the parlour. Thanks to the chef, we learned that the pan-fried red snapper and its moroccan couscous were served with an Asian garnish including lime because the lime goes so well with cocktails. An apricot jus was aimed to complement the sweetness of the snapper.
The fish was great, cooked well, and subtle yet somehow packed with flavour. A nice delicate change from a run of burgers and ‘big food’ that I’ve been on recently.
The mushroom risotto was packed with oyster mushrooms, beech mushrooms and topped with flat mushrooms stuffed with artichoke and with a parmesan crust. Risotto can so easily be a gloopy, gopping mess, but this still had a nice bite and texture to it, with a great earthy mushroomy taste that hadn’t been cooked into nothingness.
On to the gin. Our two fabulous hosts – one resplendent in his top hat – led us through the history of gin, teaching us all sorts of fun facts, many of which I now can’t remember because I was too busy trying (unsuccessfully) to take some decent pictures. They’ve got more than 100 gins at the Jekyll apparently, and there’s a LOT to learn.
We tried a Tom Collins, then later a lime-cordial laced gimlet – a dangerous drink when it was first created, and still pretty dangerous if you ask me. Luckily for me I had a train to catch, otherwise we might have seen a re-run of some of my previous gin-induced embarrassments.
Tonic didn’t escape the masterclass, and as we learned about it we enjoyed another G&T, this time choosing our tipple of choice – local Langley’s for me. There were quizzes along the way, including comedy prizes and plenty of laughs. Apparently every Saturday night the gin parlour is fully booked, and I can definitely see why.
It wasn’t the first time, and probably won’t be the last, that I had to slip off before the end of the shindig to catch a train back to lovely Rugby, so I snuck back out through the curtain, returning to the real world with just the echoes of some gin-induced laughter behind me as I tottered back downstairs and through the Jekyll & Hyde.
Did I learn a lot? I think so – I’m sure it’ll come back to me piece by piece. Was the food good? Yes – I wanted more of it. Was it a great evening full of fun? Definitely. It’s something I already plan to go back and do with my fellow gin-loving friends.
This was a brilliant event from Brumderland and (lucky for me and my fellow bloggers) just the first in a series of Seven Deadly Sins events, so you can look forward to me trying out more events like this on your behalf 🙂 Seriously though, I’d thoroughly recommend it if you’re a gin fan. The Eat Me, Drink Me menu is served Thursday to Saturday from 5:30pm – 9:30pm and while booking is advisable you can try your luck at wandering in on spec. You can add the Cocktail Chemistry gin masterclass, which is £25 a head – not bad in my book when you take into account all the gin they throw at you and the fun you have.
Oh, and you’ll be pleased to know that despite my quaffing, there were no comedy after-effects of my evening at the Jekyll & Hyde’s gin parlour, other than a lot of raving about a great evening.
I was invited to the Jekyll & Hyde for a blogger’s event organised by Brumderland and Bitters’n’Twisted.