So we thought we needed to do something “sightseeing-ish” today, although we both are getting tired of the quest for more things to learn and do … Anyway, we set off for the British Museum. Really, we decided on that because it wasn’t too far from our main activity of the day … gin tasting.
The British Museum is wonderful, awe-inspiring, huge and overwhelming. We decided to just set out to specifically see a couple of things, and look at whatever we happened upon on the way to those things. (This is an approach that I have learned from visiting the Metropolitan Museum in New York multiple times … it is equally overwhelming and if you try to see everything, you’ll wear out before you get to see the things you actually wanted to see.)
We wanted to see the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon Sculptures … so off we went. I remember seeing these exhibits when Dad and I went to the museum 30ish years ago. Along the way, we saw some of the things that I remember studying in art history in college … the ancient Assyrian statues, for instance.
After poking around for a bit, we had a bite to eat, and then sat in the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court, which wasn’t built last time I visited. It is a pretty amazing space … largest covered public square in Europe (two acres).
Then it was off to the main event of the day … gin tasting at the London Gin Club. We discovered this from a google search of “gin flights”. We wanted to do something like wine tasting that we’ve experienced in Oregon. This place looked perfect.
The first challenge was getting there. For some reason, neither of us was having much luck with navigation today. We happened upon a stick and umbrella store, which looked so interesting … but we were worried about being late for our gin reservation so we couldn’t stay and look around.
We knew we started out about a 12 minute walk away from the gin joint, but despite several changes in direction, we wound up even farther away after walking for 10 minutes. So our solution was to hail a cab that could get us there in time for our 4:00 seating. Well, we managed to hail a cab, but he had no idea where the address was, and it took him about five minutes of looking at his paper map to figure it out. Then traffic was bad. (In everyone’s defense, the street that the bar is located on was closed and under construction.). We wound up being a few minutes late to the place, but it wasn’t a problem.
The London Gin Club is a cute little gin joint. They sell many different kinds of gin and make all sorts of gin cocktails inspired by the history of the drink.
We opted to try two different flights: summer for me, and over-proof for Brad. The set up was that we each got a board with our four gin selections, along with the appropriate garnish, a glass with some ice in it, and a bottle of Fever Tree tonic to share. We first poured the entire gin sample in the glass, and smelled and tasted it. Then we added just a splash of tonic, and tasted again. Finally, we filled the glass about half full with tonic, and added the garnish, and tasted again. It was a really fun way to try out several different types of gin, and to see how much the flavor changes as a little or more tonic is added, a garnish is added, or as the drink has a moment to sit and the flavors meld. We both came out of this with a couple new favorite gins, which we likely won’t be able to find when we get home. Oh well.
The ambience was very nice, both physically and in terms of the people we encountered. Brad took a panorama of one side of the bar, and I took a photo of the other:
The service was lovely, and the bartender and server were both very helpful in terms of giving us hints about how to approach the experience. After a while, another couple was seated in a table next to us … very close. We noticed that the woman and I had on nearly-matching Birkenstock shoes, so we started a conversation. They used to live in London, but now live outside Toronto. We had a lovely chat with them, which made the experience that much more enjoyable.
Getting back to the tube was remarkably easy, which was surprising given that we had a fair amount to drink. I still can’t figure out why we got so turned around trying to get there in the first place.
We did manage to finally get that photo that all tourists must get in London: