Bombay Sapphire’s Cocktails & Create: A homemade happy hour
With all our favourite London bars still on lockdown, Friday nights have been looking rather bleak and uninspiring lately. However, Cocktails & Create, the first in a series of virtual events by Bombay Sapphire, is a refreshing reminder that it’s not about where you are but about making the most of what you have (though it undoubtedly helps if what you have is a huge glass of gin).
We begin the evening with a cocktail masterclass courtesy of award-winning mixologist Franck Dedieu. The duo of drinks are classic and not overly complicated – a timeless G&T and a tart Bombay Bramble – allowing us to make the most of accessible ingredients and let the spirit shine. Attention goes into every detail, from the choice and chilling of glassware to the recommended pairing of citrus fruits with fresh botanicals: grapefruit and rosemary, lemon and basil, lime and mint. We virtually toast our homemade happy hour, shortly before one participant scolds her partner for making a rookie error and providing her with flat tonic.
It’s these glimpses of spontaneous connection that make this class a triumph. A plaintive plea pops up onscreen as we are garnishing our first creation – “When can we drink???” – but after the first standard double measure kicks in, there are increased requests to slow down. The acclaimed bartender starts his Bombay Bramble tutorial by imploring us to use non-alcoholic ingredients first – so that you never have to tip your beloved spirits away. After tasting the delightfully zingy blackberry number, we are certainly glad we heeded the advice.
After this gin-spiration of the highest order, it’s time for part two: a painting session with London-based artist and illustrator Joey Yu. There are tight time restraints, but this actually prevents overthinking and getting caught up in small details. Yu encourages us to overcome the creative block of quarantine by working from our immediate surroundings and looking no further than the view from the window. She takes us through quick techniques, blocking out the scenery and encouraging us to share some of our varied attempts with the group (many of whom suddenly seem inextricably engrossed in their work).
Zoom is not the ideal platform for back and forth interaction, but the hosts answer questions over chat (anyone who has used the video app will know that if you don’t mute participants in groups of ten or more, chaos ensues). Yu explains where she finds inspiration both in lockdown – film streaming service Mubi is the place to look, apparently – and around the capital – from the eclectic walls of the John Soane museum to the ever-intriguing Wellcome Collection – and Dedieu likewise recommends bars and cocktails, from Coupette to the trusty clover club.
This is more than just a free class: it’s a small sip of that collaborative spirit that the creative community have been lacking. The air gets a little stale when we are all cooped up in our own personal bubble, but tonight we crack open the window and let the breeze in.