Thursday, 4 February 2010

Gin Love - Miller's

I've walked into mysterious non-descript doorways more times than I'd care to admit, but none pleased me as much as the sight that greeted me when I walked through this one. It was the entrance to Miller's Residence for Martin Miller's Gin Masterclass for the Gintelligentsia (try saying that after a couple...). I had been invited to the event by Craig Harper, the brand's ambassador, after declaring my love of this particular gin on Twitter. The hallway, painted in a brave bright azure blue, was covered in paintings. As we walked up the red carpeted stairs, I noticed trays and piles of sweets everywhere. There was always something to look at and I instantly fell in love with the place.

Martin Miller (above) himself briefly welcomed us, and armed with a martini each, we took our places to be educated of the ways of this cocktail by Craig, who turned out to be an enigmatic and engaging host.

I've always been a bit afraid of martinis, mainly because they're so strong and the ones I'd drunk had that horrible booze burn that can almost make you retch. There is also the fear of getting roaring drunk after a couple of sips. However, a martini made for me by Essex Eating at The Blaggers' Banquet back in November changed my mind entirely. Rather than that familiar burn, these slid down smoothly. I still got completely shit-faced, so I was right to be afraid in one respect.

After a brief history on cocktails - my favourite factoid being that back in the day cocktails were drunk in the morning to steady oneself from a heavy night before - we started off with one of the original martinis, the Martinez from 1884. Us members of the audience were singled out to make the drinks and like the proper Brits we are, we all looked in any direction to avoid it. It was sweet tasting, unsurprisingly given that it was 1:1 gin to sweet Italian vermouth. In contrast, the dry martini (1903) was heavily scented with citrus. Perhaps predictably, my favourite of the evening was Harry's Dry Martini (1922), shaken by my good self. Craig dispelled myths of shaking a martini to be seen as "bruising" the gin, but instead explained the science behind the slight cloudy appearance of the drink, caused by aerating the liquid.

The revelation of the night was the Super Dry Martini Doble from 1951. Made with 2 parts gin to 1 part Noilly Prat dry and flavoured with absinthe, orange bitters and a lemon twist, it reminded me of childrens' toothpaste. In a good way. I've always associated absinthe with That Terrible Night but having learnt that absinthe can be used to flavour a drink rather than having to endure it in one horrible shot or long drink, this is now the only way it'll pass my lips.

To finish, we had a good ol' chat about gin over delicious gin and tonics, happily served with wedges of lime instead of the dreaded lemon. Little vials of aromatics that flavour Miller's, such as angelica and orris root were sniffed (or inadvertently snorted, in my case - ugh) and just like that, 90 minutes had flown by and the hotel had to be returned to its guests.

Armed with a goody bag that contained a whole big bottle of Miller's and a glossy book about the brand, we repaired to the rather snazzy pub over the road for more gin and to slurp some oysters. I went home an extremely happy girl that night, debunking rumours that gin makes girls cry. It doesn't.

If you like gin (and why wouldn't you?) and want to do this too, tickets are ridiculously good value at £10. Email masterclass@martinmillersgin.com for details.

For more grainy, dark and slightly out of focus pictures of the evening - I refuse to annoy people with a flash - click HERE.

17 comments:

Chris said...

"I still got completely shit-faced" hahaha brilliant.

Oh and you have to tell us, what happened with the Absinthe on That Terrible Night??

Fillyerboots said...

I'm not a great gin lover, but I'd go just for the decor.

Jozef (Paul) said...

Ah gin the sweaty fox, I haven't drunk Martini's for a few years after a particularly religous event involving a bottle of Tanqueray 10, 1 of Noilly Prat a lot of tears and waking up on my doorstep. Good times!

I love Gin me!

Paul

www.hownottodoafoodblog.com

Dan said...

Great post Lizzie - looks like just the sort of evening I would have loved. BTW - so glad the Martini I made for you at the Blaggers Banquet was so agreeable hahaha. They weren't bad at all were they?

LexEat! said...

What a great night! The decor looked fabulous too!

Greedy Diva said...

Even just reading the word martini makes me want one desperately. Must. Have. Martini.

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

Not a drinker but I am very enamoured by the blue in that wallpaper.

Gourmet Chick said...

How cool that you got invited after leaving loving remarks on Twitter! Gotta love Twitter

gastrogeek said...

sounds like my kind of night! I always experience total memory loss after drinking gin

shayma said...

another really well-written post- succinct and lots of personal touches. i love gin, my fave is no, not Bombay Sapphire, but Tanqueray. i love bitter drinks. i must try Miller's. a lovely write-up, Lizzie, as always. x shayma

mathildescuisine said...

What a fantastic experience. I'm looking forward to my Vodka tasting with Bob Bob Ricard

Helen said...

Very gutted I couldn't make it! I remember saying I was bringing absinthe to a party or something ages ago and you said, "absinthe? Why?!" Oh the green mistress, how she tempts us to the dark side. It looks like a fabulously entertaining evening and a great write up.

Donald Edwards said...

Hmmn a really must turn my attentions back to the bar scene, wine tastings are all shockingly prosaic compared to that.

Nightwol said...

Lovely written post as always!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Not like I needed convincing where gin is concerned, but this sounds like so much fun!

Great write-up, Lizzie, and I'm with you on (not) annoying people with a flash.

Douglas Blyde said...

Booked it thanks to you and Chris.

Manuel said...

Martin Miller's....as lush as it gets and my gin of choice...