East London Liquor Company London Gin Review

So East London Liquor Dry Gin is apparently made somewhere near Victoria Park, which is not so far from where Amy used to frolic and kick her heels until I gentrified her with my ludicrous Putney ways. Yes, Amy used to be cool until I appeared in her life, like a branch of Jojo Maman Bébé opening its doors in a street of trendy record shops and fashion boutiques.

Anyhow. The East London Liquor Company makes a range of gins, another of which I have lingering in my gin cupboard awaiting review. This, their ‘standard’ London Dry Gin, is the lower priced option, weighing in at about 20 quid.

Twenty quid well spent? Let’s see, shall we?

East London Liquor Co. Gin & Tonic

So this works quite nicely. I’d put East London Liquor Company’s London Dry Gin in the spicy category, with the dominant flavour to my taste buds being cardamom — though there’s pepper, allspice and aniseed hanging around in the background like recalcitrant teenagers at their parents’ dinner party. We have a decent dose of juniper, plus lemon to keep it balanced. Pretty nice, assuming you like cardamom. By dint of fate or circumstance, I’ve found myself tasting a bunch of cardamommy gins lately (Hidden Curiosities and Norwich Gin are two more) and I will stick my scrawny old neck out and say that — in my humble — cardamom is a flavour that can become a little wearisome to excess. It’s very dominant, and as a result, I’d keep this family of gins as an occasional rather than staple boozy pleasure.

Of course if you’re the kind of macho champion who munches through a pot of cardamom pods for breakfast, you’ll disagree. Come at me, you freak.

Verdict: Gulp it!
G&T Grade: B

ELLC London Gin Martini

First, Duke’s Hotel style. Again, it’s spice-led. Cardamom first, then the piney juniper backed by pepper. There’s a general sense of sweetness and roundness, even though the initial kick is fairly strong and there’s a bit of booze burn. I like this gin with a twist rather than an olive, as I think you want to raise the citrus profile a little to balance the spice.

In classic martini it is still damn strong and assertive. Better, I think, with the meltwater influence which softens it a little. The flavours blend more, and it certainly still has punch. That said, the Dukes-style martini is more zingy and tingly, sends that boozy jolt up yer nose. So I suppose it’s a question of what you want.

Verdict: Gulp it!
Martini Grade: B

ELLC London Dry Gin Negroni

I think the cardamom gubbins works particularly well in a negroni, giving it a pleasant additional warmth and blending rather well with the vermouth (I’m using 50/50 Dolin and Punt é Mes). I’m not normally an advocate of including premium gins in the negroni, as I think you struggle to get much of the spirit’s complexity when it’s rubbing up against such burly bedfellows as Campari and Vermouth, so a cheaper gin such as this is a nice option.

Verdict: Gulp it!
Negroni Grade: B+

In Summary…

East London Liquor Gin bottle label

So that salvo of ratings suggests a gin that’s very good but not quite great — falling short of the coveted ‘Neck it!’ award in any category. But, again, bear in mind this gin’s lower-than-many price, on which basis I think it’s pretty damn commendable. Question is, I suppose, what the East London natives would make of it, rather than some one-time SW15 posho like myself. I would ask Amy her view, but she’s too busy on the Jojo Maman Bébé website…

(Oh god, what have I done?)

You can buy East London Liquor Company’s London Dry Gin at Master of Malt, where it’s normally £21.95 but currently reduced to £19.95.

Rock Samphire Martini at Native Restaurant

An excellent Martini concocted by the fabulous foragers of Native Restaurant.

A quick one for you, today: Native. Amy and I had an excellent supper there, a couple of days weeks months ago. I could probably spout a few hundred words on the food, but let’s keep the focus boozy, shall we? Let’s talk about the Native Martini.

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What I’m Doing (mid-Feb edition)

All the stuff I’m up to that I either haven’t been concentrating enough to write about properly, or else can’t quite be bothered to. If that sounds like a compelling pitch to you, god help you. Cocktails at Hide Below, Oysters at Bentley’s, alcoholic wisdom from Morgenthaler and more…

You ache, don’t you, for further insights into my almost inconceivably rich and varied lifestyle?

Well let that ache be soothed! Here’s a new series in which I rifle through the receipts crumpled in my wallet and the memories crumpled in my brain. To be published at a frequency of whenever-I-can-be-arsed. Here’s what I’ve been doing so far in February.

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Asterley Bros Estate English Vermouth Review

Many things are nicer than a bout of labyrinthitis-induced vertigo. Asterley Bros English Vermouth is one such thing. You possibly shouldn’t drink this until your room spins, but far be it from me to dissuade you… It’s bloody good.

What’s worse than a hangover? I’ll tell you: the symptoms of a hangover (the absolute worst kind), lasting for days, without the benefit of actually having been drunk beforehand.

Reader, welcome to the world of labyrinthitis.

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When Clemmie Misses Her Train

In which the delightful Clemmie is reintroduced to these pages, and a tale of debauchery, recklessness, minor infringements and cello-loving is recounted

Now, it’s a blogging faux pas to apologise for — or even refer to — the time that’s elapsed since one’s last post. So I shalln’t. Perhaps you’re hoping I’ll account for myself? Hell, believe me: I’m hoping the same thing, and have been for several years. Still hopin’.

But what follows, I guess, is a sort of oblique apology of its own, in a way. I’m going to tell you the story of yesterday evening.

And for this purpose I’d like you, please, to join me in welcoming back to these pages the inestimable Clemmie. Last time you met her, Clemmie missed her bus. This time, Clemmie misses her train. And then Clemmie catches a taxi, a coach, two tube trains and another taxi.

(I know: it’s all in the way I tell ’em.)

A bottle of Durnberg Gruner Veltliner white wine on a wooden outdoor table, with glasses, olives and assorted items

But our riches-to-rags tale begins with the best Oxford can offer: the Old Parsonage Hotel, with its perpetually burning log fire and its perpetually rather damn nice Durnberg Gruner Veltliner — bracing like a sea-breeze in spring. Of all Oxford’s providers of food and drink, this is the place I most miss.

(And I reckon they probably miss me, too. Clemmie and I have put a fair bit of business their way, y’know? And we’re fucking charming customers, too.)

In the garden of the Old Parsonage, Clemmie is on the phone to her mother. Clemmie’s phone only functions in loudspeaker mode:

‘Mum, don’t say anything rude or horrible, because you’re on loudspeaker.’

Clemmie was supposed to catch the train to her mother’s home in Suffolk. But Clemmie is drinking Gruner Veltliner at the Old Parsonage. The advantages of a phone that works only in loudspeaker mode begin to be apparent.

We don’t linger, though, at the Parsonage. Rather prosaically, this is because I have to go to my old home in order to pick up my cello. In so doing, I am also the delighted recipient of two enormous — but very nice — but enormous — cushions. A gift from my kind little sister.

When one is carrying a cello and two enormous cushions, one needs another drink. And that drink was provided by Portabello restaurant on South Parade. A blossoming blackcurranty Carmenere that had, mayhap, a bit too much of the fruit juice about it for my liking, but was nevertheless welcome enough. Welcome also was the brief presence of Anna ‘Big Mitch’ Mitchell from her house on the other side of the road. Anna had a small pinot noir. Anna is quite a small pinot noir herself. (That’s meant to be a compliment.)

By this stage, alas, anything resembling a plan for the evening had been shredded like a tissue in a blender.

So Clemmie and I left Anna to roam the streets of Oxford — and decided to get a coach to London.

At this point, the class and sophistication of our evening began to take something of a dive:

‘It’s a pity we can’t drink wine on the coach,’ said Clemmie, wistfully.

There was a moment’s silence.

‘Is Tesco’s still open?’

And so it was, dear (horrified) reader, that Clemmie and I found ourselves on the back seat of the coach to London, surreptitiously pouring Tesco’s Finest Fiano (SECURITY PROTECTED) into plastic cups.

(Yes, I bought plastic cups. What do you think we are? Savages? Hey, don’t answer that.)

Now, I happen to believe that wine shouldn’t be taken even remotely seriously. Wine is our bitch, and we do to it as we will. So I don’t feel bad for subjecting Tesco’s Fiano to this treatment.

Especially as it’s not a very nice wine. It’s kind of thin, and has a bit of a fizz to it. Not in a particularly good way.

Nevertheless — as you know — we are nothing if not stoical in our pursuit of shitfacedness. So Tesco’s Fiano and plastic cups it was. Lesser humans might have caved; not Old Parn and Clemmie. The Fiano was dispatched.

… And there we were in Victoria. Me with my cello and my enormous cushions; Clemmie with her enormous bag.

Travelling on the underground on Friday night with a cello and two enormous cushions is an experience that itself requires a degree of cushioning — so it was as well that our resourceful acquisition of that doughty Fiano had anticipated this need. So Clemmie, cello and I happily swayed our way to Putney. To a pub.

At the pub, we had some sauvignon blanc. Or that’s what it tasted like, anyway. Look, if you’re still reading this for the tasting notes, you really need to carry out some kind of reality check at this point.

‘’Scuse me — is that a cello in there?’ asked a thin man wearing a tracksuit.

‘Um, yes.’

‘I love the cello. Do you play it with a bow?’

‘Yup.’

‘Can you pluck it, too?’

‘Oh yes.’

‘I love the cello. There’s something about it that speaks to me.’

Carrying a turding great cello around with you is, believe me, a surefire way to kick off some fantastic conversations. Be that as it may, stringed instrument vendors of Putney should take note: there is a man in a tracksuit out there. Make the sale.

Our cello-besotted conversant having departed, we were at length politely nudged in the direction of finishing our drinks. Even in London, y’know, pubs close.

And so Clemmie bundled herself into a taxi. And my cello, my cushions and I made our slow — yet somehow majestic — peregrination home.

***

An illustration of a rabbit and some flowersWhen I opened the door to my flat and turned on the light, I was greeted by a rabbit.

I picked up the card and turned it over. It was from my neighbour.

Tom
Please talk to me about your packages. Why didn’t you pick up the one last night, I knocked on your door?
H—

I turned the card back over, gave the rabbit a sick kind of smile, and went to bed.

(To be continued…)