Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A day of Gin, Art, and Architecture

I'm currently enjoying a week off (really enjoying) work and today I've been to London, partly to see the In The age of Giorgione  exhibition at the RA - it was excellent, it's on until the 5th of June and I recommend anyone who gets the chance should go and see it.

It brings together as much work attributed to Giorgione as you're ever likely to see in one place (he died young, so there isn't so very much of it, but he was hugely influential) along with examples from his contemporary's and successors - mostly Venetian, but some great stuff by Dürer as well.

Before and after the exhibition I went on a gin hunt though. The first one took me to the City of London' distillery, it's not far from St Paul's cathedral which I'd never seen in real life before. I had a dramatic introduction to it, emerging from the underground to be greeted by a bolt of lightening and then a clap of thunder as I got my first glimpse. As the entry fee is a whopping £18 I opted to leave seeing inside until I have more time to do it justice. 

The City of London Distillery is just below St Brides church off Fleet Street, I wondered around a bit looking for it, walked past it once, and generally ought to have looked at the address instead of trying to make sense of a map on my phone (I'm not great with maps). What I wanted from it was a bottle of their Christopher Wren gin (bottle inspired by the cathedral, which they sell from behind the bar, with the stills just the other side of the room. The lovely man taking my money then told me that the guy next to me was Tom Nichol - the distiller. This was quite a big deal for me, though he wouldn't believe that I'd come all the way from Leicester to buy a bottle (okay it wasn't the only reason, but it was a big part of my plan for the day) said that he felt the product was overpriced (£42.50, it's by way of a birthday drink for D, so compares well to any grand marque champagne, but is the upper limit for what I'd spend on a bottle) and told me I could get it on amazon (all in the nicest possible way). 

I agreed about the price for general drinking purposes, but for what I want it for its perfect, and not excessive. Buying online means waiting in for delivery and not getting out to accidentally meet an industry hero. He promised I'd enjoy the gin (really good for martini's he says) then talked a bit about his work with Tanqueray and Gordon's (he's the man behind Tanqueray 10). What I didn't tell him was that I was also searching for a bottle of Tanqueray Bloomsbury, the last special edition he did for them before retiring. He was really lovely. 

I found my Bloomsbury bottle in Gerrys on Old Compton street, it's somewhere else I'd never been (almost as inexplicable as not having seen St Paul's before) so it was a good chance to explore Soho a bit more - increasingly sanitised, but still quite seedy. I'm really delighted with these gins, looking forward to drinking them both, and particularly after meeting the distiller behind them.


  1. Maybe I'll go see that when I'm in London in May - sounds like a good exhibit. Giorgione not Gin, I mean!

  2. It's very good and well worth seeing, there are some exceptional portraits and it was great to them all together like this, it really demonstrated how Bellini influenced a younger generation, and how in turn Giorgione's work influenced or is reflected in that of his contemporaries. I always find the way RA exhibitions are curated and hung really informative, and love the Sackler galleries for making it really easy to go around again.

  3. I will be interested in hearing your opinion of the Gins. I would have been over-excited to meet the distiller.

    I'd love to see the exhibit but moblility difficulties don't allow.

  4. I was quite excited... It might be a while before I try the gins, I will admit I like to gloat over a new acquisition for a while before opening it. A bit like buying clothes for best!