I just re-read my post from the other night and it is totally delirious. Oh well.
So, Monday was amazing. We started off bright and early with a grand tour of the Beefeater Distillery, led by the lovely Desmond Payne, Beefeater’s Master Distiller, who is officially my new favorite person. Here he is paused in front of one of the stills’ odd little tasting window-boxes (mental note: will ask him about their real name), from which gin flows for around seven hours each working day of the week. Desmond & his tasters sample from these gin fountains toward the end of each afternoon to find the sweet spot for cutting a new batch of Beefeater. It’s very much a human process and totally subjective. Which I love.
After the tour, we were treated to a proper luncheon followed by a lesson on house-developed cocktails utilizing Beefeater and Beefeater 24 (the modern, tea-inspired iteration that Desmond designed himself, released a few years back), led by the brand’s global ambassadors, Tim Stones and Seb Hamilton-Mudge. Tim did a few modern cocktails; Seb played with the classics. Everything was delicious. This is what the space immediately in front of me looked like by the time they were finished with their presentations.
Basically, by the time the presentation was through, our entire group was day-drunk and punchy. We all piled into the taxis back to the hotel, where we were advised to take naps before our long evening, but idiotically (or not?) I opted to do some power-window-shopping. Destination: Liberty House. (Floral print jeans are huge right now, btw.) I’ll be back to do some damage later this week.
Thereafter, our evening commenced with a visit to The Drink Factory, which is a molecular gastronomic lab for drinks and perfumes. (Bonus: It’s located in a building owned by Pink Floyd. We didn’t see them, though. But that’s ok.) Tony Conigliaro led a fascinating seminar and served us horseradish booze, clay vodka and a cocktail he calls the Woodland Martini, inspired by a walk in the woods near Portland, Ore. Minds were blown. Also, I learned I am a supertaster, as were about half of the folks in our group. (Go figure: We all work jobs centered around food & drink.) Also, The Drink Factory has a crazy library of ancient spirits, like this.
From there we went to dinner, followed by drinks at Callooh Callay, which was incredible. Everything we tried was delicious, and it was just so…cool. There really isn’t another word for it. My favorite was the Spiced Fairbanks: Beefeater 24 (typically it’s made with Plymouth, but we’re not there yet, hence the Beefeater 24 sub-in), Noilly Prat dry, lemon juice, Peychaud’s bitters, pomegranate and Vic’s famous spiced apricot liqueur. Delicious.
Fortunately, the pubs close by midnight most everywhere, otherwise we would have been in trouble. The following morning was an early start once again, with a trip down the canal to visit the Olympic stadium…which I’ll tell you about later. Gotta squeeze in a disco nap before another long, gin-filled evening. (I’m not complaining.)