5***** The Ginstitute at The Portobello Star @the_ginstitute

#Tweetingit – 5***** – A Gincredible experience for gin lovers and newcomers alike

Now  technically this isn’t a theatre review, but a masterclass review, but we think that it felt like a lot of the immersive, interactive theatre events that have been springing up around London of late.  Oh, and we totally loved it so think that everyone should go!


A group of 4 of us attended as part of the seemingly year-long 30th birthday celebrations for Playhouse Pickings’ very own Rhiannon Lawson – who happens to be rather a fan of “mother’s ruin”.  Two more of us are practised gin-soaks and our fourth has recently discovered that gin isn’t all that bad if you don’t add tonic to it, so is very much on a learning curve at the moment.

Our evening started with a gin & tonic (or ginger beer for our tonic refusenik) in the charming and very bijoux Portobello Star.  From here we were taken to the new home of The Ginstitute just around the corner at The Distillery, a venue due to open on 16 December that we’re very excited about.  We were brought into their cozy gin-palace inspired bar and spent an enjoyable hour learning about the somewhat murky history of gin, given the opportunity to sample a gin-of-old, and 11b18fca6d4afd44350a31ccf554be68acquainted with Tom Collins.  That’s Tom Collins the cocktail, a long held favourite of mine which should be treated with the same caution as Pimm’s in that it slips down far too easily and can cause inadvertent drunkenness.  Another g&t was poured before we were taken through to the blending room for the main event.  This may be where things started to get a bit rowdy…

We were to blend our own gins.  Not London Dry, because the law states the botanicals must all be distilled together, but our host suggested it be a Dry London because it would taste precisely the same.  To a base spirit including the four main botanicals of juniper, coriander seed, angelica root and orris root, we were to add further distillates to our own tastes.the-ginstitute-cover-1140x720  Let me tell you that tasting distillates is a peculiar, yet truly fun way to get slightly tiddly on a Friday evening.  It was really rather fascinating to taste the flavours that they’d managed to distill.  The alcoholic version of Yorkshire Tea was rather pleasing, though the asparagus was beyond revolting.  Between these there were tens of other flavours we sampled in order to create our own blends.

Once we’d come up with our own combinations of botanicals these were added in quantities decided by our hosts to the base spirit, then we all got to try everyone’s blend.  There were twelve of us in total in the class.  One lady managed to make her gin taste like Christmas, which was really rather lovely and unexpected, though many of us stuck to much more traditional gin notes.
th-7 I was rather pleased with mine, and intend to order more of it in the future – one of the wonderful services The Ginstitute provides is to note the recipe of your gin and allow you to reorder it via their website.

Naming the gins we’d created was another enjoyable part of the evening.  Having spent the previous day coming up with increasingly dubious gin puns we four named our bespoke blends as Forgive Me Father For I Have Ginned,wp_20161125_20_01_55_pro Once More Ginto The Breach, Gintly Does It and Ad Ginfinitum.n  We shared our rejected ones and were a bit sad that nobody used the, to my mind quite splendid, Botanic Cult, so I’ll leave it here for a future student of The Ginstitute to use.

After our gins were prepared we were served our final (and not truly necessary) drink – a superb Martini – and presented with our goodie bags containing a full size bottle of our gin, a full size bottle of Portobello Road gin and a bottle of tonic.  Not a bad haul in my opinion! There was also the added bonus of meeting a lovely group of likeminded people with whom we might have gone on to another pub to have a nightcap – of several bottles of wine.

I think that The Ginstitute have come up with a cracking evening here for any gin lover.  I’d recommend it to everyone – it makes a perfect present (as we discovered), though make sure you buy yourself a ticket too as it would be a tragedy to miss out.

Tickets for The Experience at The Ginstitute cost £110 and are available from www.theginstitute.com (Cocktail Masterclasses are also available at a cost of £60 per person). You can buy your personal  gin again from their  for £ 35 so don’t lose your  bottle number.


Published by Playhouse Pickings

Theatre blog run by Rhiannon; a civil servant, D&D player, sci fi fan, immersive theatre lover and gin enthusiast

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