Last week, Ma and I went to Sipsmith to the Cocktail Masterclass they were holding for London Cocktail Week.
I visited Sipsmith earlier in the year with the London Cocktail Society and was impressed by their passion for making gin and enthusiasm for sharing what they know. I’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen that they should go to one of their tours. So when I saw that they were doing events all through the week, I knew that I was going to one of them and I knew I was taking Ma.
So off we went to Hammersmith. At this point I feel I should apologise for the photos. It was dark and I was drinking…
When we got there the ice hadn’t arrived so we were given sloe gin instead of G&T’s and basically stood around talking to Jared Brown, a drinks historian and font of so much cocktail knowledge. We talked about sloe whiskey (which I have to try making), where to get sloe berries if you live in London and don’t know where to pick them (ebay) and all sorts of other things.
When the ice arrived and G&T’s dished out, we started. James gave a condensed history of Sipsmith, Prudence the still (I won a coffee mug!) and how they made the gin and the vodka and of course we tasted both.
Then Jared started us on the 1st cocktail, the martini. Made half gin, half red vermouth, this is apparently as it was originally made. (Top tip, once opened keep vermouth in the fridge, use it up within a month. So treat it like sherry!)
I liked it and for people who need convincing about martinis and gin, this would be a good place to start. Jared also said that it matters not whether you shake or stir a martini, you can’t bruise it and shaking will give you a cold martini but leave you with tiny bits of ice in your drink which will dilute it. I stand corrected but will still be stirring mine!
Then Jared got us to try his wormwood gin. Yep, wormwood. The stuff originally put in absinthe, can cause hallucinations. Fortunately for us, it had only been in the gin an hour and resulted in a creamy flavour. I thought that it was ok and could see how you could use it with other flavours. Ma was not convinced!
Onto the next cocktail, the Cornwall Collins. Sloe gin, lemon juice, soda water. Lovely and refreshing. I would have preferred to use tonic, but then I’ve been drinking sloe gin and tonic for years!
Time for more tasting, smoked vodka. This was interesting, I thought that it tasted like smoked salmon. Jared had smoked it over applewood, which might account for the smoked salmon taste!
Finally onto the last cocktail. The Lady Grey martini, gin infused with Earl Grey tea, lemon juice, simply syrup and an egg white. Shaken hard. It was ok, but I really couldn’t have drunk more than one and Ma couldn’t finish hers at all.
Finally, we tried the sloe gin and damson vodka, both of which I already like. Both would be great in a hip flask, they are a winter kind of drink, in fact, I took the damson vodka with me to Greenbelt so can testify to how good it is in cold weather!
Then it was time to go. As we left, we were given a half bottle of the gin and the vodka, or 2 half bottles of the gin (Ma!) and got to take the equipment we used on night with us.
Really great evening, I learned loads and had fun.