I’ve found myself back at The Hoxton Hotel more than a few times recently for various events, doesn’t hurt that it’s a doddle to get back home from, my usual gripe, being situated a short stroll from Old Street Station.
The launch of a collaboration with urban and affordable bike brand Mango saw us drinking rather a lot of new Scottish gin Caorunn whilst admiring their very own Hoxton branded bespoke bike paint job.
More recently I rocked up to a seriously swishy launch party for their brand new Soho House meeting rooms, where I sipped passion fruit martini’s along to live bands in the most seductive surroundings. If I were the sort of person that held power meetings or had functions *this* is where I’d hold them; a network of rooms decked out to imitate a, very fancy, chic and styled, apartment. Rooms are adorned with jars of sweeties for sugar coating that hard sell, and a glamorous kitchen at it’s heart, with all important bar, has anything you might need for more relaxed gatherings, launches and functions. Impressive. Actually, sod work, I’d quite like to live here.
The latest and greatest addition to the hotel is a pop up gin garden – I know, oh my! Just my sort of thing. The Gin Garden is an actual travelling, well, gin garden. Imagine. Popping up in unusual, urban spaces, the garden teams up with distilleries to mix and serve cocktails using local ingredients to complement both the chosen gin’s botanicals along with the location. They then hold fun and boozy workshops in newly sprung garden.
I braved the tumultuous weather a few Fridays ago to experience one such workshop. Led past reception and behind the Hoxton Grill I find myself at the door to a beautiful and tiny courtyard with a tree at it’s centre, strung with hanging lights. Greeted with a goldfish bowl of a G&T, I nibble on miniature burgers and edge towards the more sheltered peripheries of the garden when the weather insists on playing dirty. As a group we’re guided through the ten different botanicals of chosen gin, Bombay Sapphire, encouraged to touch, taste and smell, and even brought a warming gin hot toddy when our host fears he’s losing us to the elements.
Second or third drink in, hic, things take a turn for the exciting when our attention is drawn to a pair of wardrobes behind us, filled with vessels containing colourful concoctions that we’re told are gin infusions. These range from the more traditional aromatics like rose and ginger to more quirky pairings; I spy pear drops, vanilla & basil, blueberry and bay, cardamom and sweet pepper. We’re encouraged (it doesn’t take much) to grab a glass which we fill to the brim with ice and stir to chill, draining off any dilution, then go wild with the gin infusions. Ok, he didn’t actually say quite that, but we take it as license to mix and taste gins with wild abandon, some more successfully than others. We take our bespoke, nearly finished drink, to the bar where we choose from a selection of garnishes and finally from a cart filled with Fever Tree tonics (I take slimline to counteract the burgers…). At this point I’m not really paying much attention to what my drink tastes like but it is a rather attractive sky blue pink. Pretty!
Packed off with a goody bag including our own bottle of gin, there’s homework, but that of the best kind. To drink gin! Well eventually, but first we’re encouraged to make our own infusion.
I have ideas of grandeur, but I’m saving these for another project, so keep it relatively classic. I pop into my bottle the crushed seeds from a couple of cardamom pods, a handful of edible rose buds and some lemon zest. It’s pretty girly, pleasantly aromatic and floral and works very well in a G&T. I’ll admit a G&T is not generally my favourite way to imbibe gin, I prefer a more concentrated martini or any one of a number of aperitifs. However, I can see the benefit of this style; the large bulbous shape allows the flavours to open up, whilst an abundance of ice retains chill and stops dilution, I go for a smidge under the recommended 100ml of excellent Fever Tree tonic which delivers a truly crisp and refreshing drink.
I’d get in quick – you can get tickets here – http://www.gingarden.com/#0eb/custom_plain