Last Thursday I went to a tour of SipSmith distillery as part of the London Cocktail Week events. After a delay filled ride on the Hammersmith & City line, I leapt out of the tube only to find that I had left my directions neatly tucked under my keyboard at the office. An SOS call to my friend and a speedwalk meander through residential streets, and finally I was at the garage that SipSmith calls home.
The moment I stepped into the room, a blonde gave me a huge smile and welcomed me to the event. Let me tell you, there are few things more lovely after a harrowing late dash. And since that was followed by a friend waving from the crowd and then a delicious g&t, I knew the evening had totally turned around. Luckily I wasn’t even the last one in before the tour started.
So it wasn’t as much a tour as a standing around, leaning on barrels kind of event. A nice fellow (impossible for me to remember names after all that gin…) told us all about the history of the company and talked us through the distillation process in their beautiful cooper Prudence. And then the sampling began!
I’ve had both their gin & vodka before. They have a regular appearance in the liquor cupboard. But let’s me honest, I don’t really drink anything but bourbon straight anymore. (The rare shot after a evening of dancing to Balkan punk don’t count much any how.) But the SipSmith vodka is a tasty thing all by itself. And I learned, that no matter how nice it is, straight gin is not for me. Please, please pass the tonic.
Then we moved on to my new favourite after dinner tipple, damson vodka. It positively calls out for a roaring fire, sleeping cat, and maybe a slice of cake or wedge of creamy cheese. My buddies all talked about packing bottles into their suitcase for Christmas to mellow family squabbles over the scrabble board. I’m not feeling so benevolent and went out last night on the prowl for my very own bottle. I mean it’s cold enough for a cardigan so it’s practically Christmas, right?
And then it was slow gin time. Actually I am a big fan of sloe gin (before the damson vodka turned my head) and the SipSmith version is pretty interesting. I mean, it’s gin-y. So instead of the standard sweetness of fruit, you can really taste in the gin in the SipSmith version. The kind of taste that makes you pay attention.
So, gold stars all around.
And then we trundled off to Patio to counter all that gin with pierogies. Now, admittedly, the bottle of red wine didn’t help my state at all. But the food was lovely. We all had different appetizers – potato pancakes, borscht, and my new favorite lucky dip of white borscht. It was thickened with rye flour and studded with hunks of country sausage. Actually this is the best thing that I have eaten in a while. I am salivating just thinking about it now.
Then we moved one to matching mains of the peirogi sampler. It was a random mix of cabbage, minced meat, and cheese ones. I like a bit of sour cream on my usually but this was all tasty. I thought that I could eat my weight in dumplings of any kind but I actually petered out with so many meat filled ones.
Usually I am all about dessert but that night my bed just seemed too far away. And so we bounded back in to the night. But I am already planning on going back.
And investing asking Santa for a bottle of damson vodka.