Review of The London Gin Club by David T Smith
This month saw the launch of the Gin Jaunts menu at The Star at Night’s London Gin Club. The London Gin Club was founded in 2012. Membership is free and members receive a membership card with a 5% discount off premium gin at Gerry’s in Old Compton Street, a loyalty card (free tenth cocktail at The Star at Night) and a monthly e-mail bulletin, full of gin news.
The Star at Night is a café by day, but in the evening it becomes a table service gin bar. Just off Oxford Street, its atmosphere is almost unchanged since the family bought it 80 years ago.
The Gin Jaunts menu features a range of Gin & Tonics, each paired with a thoughtful, inspiring garnish and served in the Spanish GinTonica style (in balloon glasses with plenty of ice).
Bloom (garnished with English Strawberry)
It was a hot day and, as such, this was a great start: the strawberries really brought out the floral and fruit notes of the drink, giving it a lovely, refreshing air.
Caoruun (garnished with apple & celery)
This was an intriguing combination and my first insight into how the garnishes here really transform the drinks. Caorunn contains apple and the slice added a crisp edge. The celery, on the other hand, really brought out the herbal elements of the gin, making it much more savoury, which was a pleasant change. This was definitely my joint favourite of the evening’s drinks.
Hendrick’s (garnished with cucumber and rose petals)
As gins go, Hendrick’s must have one of the most distinctive and synonymous garnishes: when you think of Hendrick’s, you think of cucumber. Hendrick’s does also contain rose essence, however, and so the petals in this drink reflect that. Although it is a tad more elaborate, I prefer fresh petals to dried ones, as they make more of an impact and are easier to drink around.
Gilpins (garnished with lemon and sage)
Sage is a botanical in this new gin, as is borage, and so the garnishes here really bring out both the citrus and herbal elements of the spirit, giving it some salad-like elements and a summery freshness. As such, this was my second favourite of the evening.
No:3 (garnished with Sicilian olive and lime peel)
Olives are often used in Martinis, but much more rarely in Gin & Tonics; I think we’ve been missing a trick! These were not briney, but very fresh and so added a slight, oily, herbal element.
Sacred (garnished with grapefruit and rosemary)
This garnish represented two opposite ends of the gin’s flavour spectrum: the citrus and the herbal. This was the most fragrant drink of all and both the bright colours and the scent really drew you in.
Tanqueray 10 (garnished with orange and watercress)
Tanqueray Ten already contains citrus botanicals such as pink grapefruit and so the the orange garnish compliments these aspects of the gin; in addition, I think that lemon and lime are a bit too suburban to go with the unusual watercress. The watercress was visually intriguing, but I’m not sure that it added too much to the drink overall.
Tanqueray Rangpur (garnished with Sicilian olive and basil)
Flavoured with Rangpur Limes this gin is quite citrusy and so the herbal elements of the garnishes, whilst they may not be an obvious choice, contrasted with and complemented the flavour of the gin well, making this drink a very good way to sign off the evening.
The highlight of the evening was exploring the GinTonica style of serve and how drinks made both at home and in a bar can really benefit from a fun and imaginative garnish.