Juniper Journey explores gin at Worship Street Whistling Shop
The Worship Street Whistling Shop, an atmospheric bar near Old Street station, is playing host over the coming weeks to a series of unique tasting sessions entitled Juniper Journey. Tristan Stephenson and Tom Aske, renowned mixologists, explore Charles Tanqueray’s legacy by unearthing hidden gems from his notebooks. The books contain, besides the closely guarded recipe for Tanqueray gin, entries for boot polish and liqueurs. Stephenson has followed the recipe for boot polish to the letter, using sugar and Japanese ink among other ingredients and there are professional shiners on hand to give shoes a going over.
In a small enclosed area of the candlelit bar, surrounded by wooden panels, is a rusty bathtub with trays and planks laid across containing the equipment for gin mixing. We sit on benches around the setup listening to Stephenson as he explains the history, the theory and the method behind the drinks that he mixes for us.
First is a liqueur recreated from Tanqueray’s notes. It is made with cloves, coriander and caraway then sweetened to leave a slightly viscous liquid. It smells like Christmas, giving off a richly spiced aroma with a smooth and sweet taste.
Next is a classic gin martini, mixed to the accompaniment of a history lesson as well as some tips on mixing: although James Bond has not done any favours for martinis by inspiring a following of shakers rather than stirrers, this is not necessarily a bad thing, Stephenson says. Shaking adds tiny air bubbles to the cocktail giving a sharper, almost fizzy taste that works better with a drier martini. We are taught how to add a twist of lemon without overpowering the drink; the martini is strong but delicately flavoured. It is served very chilled and the dilution by the ice is both necessary and refreshing
Our final sample is a cocktail invented by Stephenson himself, a synthesis of the liqueur and the martini. It results in a delicious combination of the two, with hints of sweetness and of the warm festive spices from the liqueur but retaining the dry depth of the martini.
Stephenson is clearly very knowledgeable but rather than making the history and science lessons seem dry, he delivers his explanations with enthusiasm and clarity. The Juniper Journey is a singular and informative experience. It is also immensely fun, even before the gin has had a chance to kick in.
Juniper Journey is on at the Worship Street Whistling Shop until 3rd December 2013. Tickets are available exclusively from the YPlan app.
For further information about the Worship Street Whistling Shop, 63 Worship Street, London EC2A 2DU, call 020 7247 0015 or visit here.