By Anna Robin
London Cocktail Week, what a bloody wonderful idea. A week of encouraging the London populous to drink cocktails - I might just continue the theme myself and start the London Red Wine Week, or possibly Hot Toddy Week in mid November when everything is getting a bit depressing.Anyway, one of the lovely cocktail-related events during the week was the Drinks Jamboree. I like drinks and I like jamborees, so the combination could only be magical, I reasoned. And it was.Advertised as a spirit tasting event, the Drinks Jamboree in Shoreditch Town Hall at first glance, looked a little miserable. There were lots of stalls with drinks, but not that many people coming in to drink them. A dejected lady at the Karlsson’s vodka stall morosely told us that it had been a little quiet. Before giving us some vodka (neat) and then with a little pepper – which turns out to be a rather fabulous combination.We then just wandered around chatting about drinks and drinking drinks and comparing drinks and nosing drinks (this is technical term for sticking your hooter into an appropriate ‘nosing’ glass and taking a good sniff) and, as the hall got a little busier, queuing for drinks.What made the whole experience even better (I mean drinking for free is always pretty good to begin with) were the people showcasing their wares. I can’t tell in hindsight whether everyone there was drunk or I was drunk but everyone was in very high spirits (geddit).My favourite person of the evening was the French man on the Pernod Absinthe stall. I was curious, I thought Pernod was the name of a French aniseed clear spirit and inquired about this. “No, no” he replied, gesticulating wildly, “that is Pernod Pastis. The difference between the two drinks is the difference between a donkey and a stallion.” We decided that in the form proffered (a cocktail of absinthe, rose lime cordial, water and cucumber) it tasted more like a Mare (I blame the absinthe for this one).
We ambled round some more. There was an elderflower spirit stall where they were making cocktails with a dollop of beetroot mouse squished on. We tried rum, cherry brandy, a coffee liqueur, a spirit that was basically whisky but was too young to be actually called a whisky from Glenglassaugh, plum gin and ginger gin.
By this point I was struggling to make notes and ask interesting question at the same time and attempted to make a bid for the door, But alas, the charming man at the Sipsmith stall caught our attention. Another gin will not tip us over the edge, we reasoned. However, it was not to be.
“Can we try some gin please,” I said, swaying gently.
“But of course, but first you must try our vodka,” he replied with a smile.
Now I am never rude and have a general rule never to turn down a free drink. Manfully, we tried both the vodka and gin – both delightful, I must say. And on that note we staggered out the Town Hall talking about the merits of single filtration vodka and botanicals and possibly giggling just a little bit more than a serious drinks journalist should.