BY THE WAY: Please excuse the quality of these photos as they’re truly atrocious. The Happenstance is an absolutely photogenic establishment (as with most Drake & Morgan bars) and I feel like I haven’t done the spot justice. My proper camera had been on its sickbed and its replacement had not been delivered when I went.
I know a fair amount about gin so when I received an invite to try the Gin-It-Yourself masterclass at The Happenstance
, I happily accepted.
is a Drake & Morgan venture perched right outside the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral. I quite like how it has a nice vibe without the same madness as other D&M bars in the City. There’s a glitzy bar as you walk in, a spacious restaurant and deli, a mixology table, a glam private dining area/hidden speakeasy. Oh, and they have an in-house florist, too.
They’ve started a G.I.Y. pop up bar which lets you create a bespoke drink from selected types of gins, a variety of tonic and garnishes. For £8.95 per tipple, you get to create your own gin and tonic that’s like no other. Basically, this will probs be the most non-boring G&T you’ll ever have.
I took the cocktail-loving B to share the experience with me (or to make sure I get home in one piece and not in wobbles!). As we got there relatively early, we were treated to some cocktails and bubbly. I had a classic negroni which was pretty darn good (except they put so much ice in the glass it was rather hard to drink) whilst B had a watermelon daiquiri which was surprisingly refreshing and palatable.
We were given a taste of all the gins we were choosing from. L-R: Silent Pool (dry, lines your throat quite strongly); Little Bird (dry, has quite a spicy gingery taste); Tanqueray 10 (very strong and aromatic, groomed as the new Hendrick’s), Becketts (zesty and floral and very easy to drink, my favourite of the bunch); Gin Mare (slightly herby with Mediterranean notes which I like), Sipsmith Dry (dry but complex); Sipsmith VJOP (a stronger version of the London dry with extra juniper) & Sipsmith Sloe (in one word, fruity).
We were definitely lucky to have this masterclass and learn more about the types of gin available. That said, we got really excitable and realised we needed to calm down as it was going to be one boozy night.
This is how I’d rate the gins, from least favourite to favourite. Our bartender for the night, Ed, was really knowledgeable and helpful with our selections.
We also got to try different tonic waters. The chaps at Fever-Tree had three types: a normal lemony one, an English favourite elderflower, and a bold Mediterranean type (my fave). We also got to try Bermondsey Tonic Water’s tonic syrup (essentially what tonic tastes like sans the carbonated soda) which had an interesting taste that was actually quite nice and almost reminiscent of iced tea.
Now, garnish is sometimes very underrated but unless your drink is topped with one of those tropical toothpick umbrellas, it’s definitely what you should pay attention to, because it’s what you usually smell first before you drink. And if you know your drink, then you know that olfactory stimulation is as important as taste.
We had nice sips and smells sampling the whole lot. Ed, B, and I mostly shared the same thoughts on the gin types, with Becketts being our favourite.
Not wanting us to topple over our tipple, The Happenstance kitchen sent us some nice sea bass carpaccio and an absolutely gorgeous wild mushroom bruschetta. I’ve never been so happy to see food in my life.
Then it was time to create the bespoke G&T. For my drink, I chose Beckett’s + BTW Tonic Syrup (and Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic to make it a bit carbonated) + a sprig of rosemary. Easily the most palatable gin and tonic ever. Who knew?
Drinks sampled and a lot of spirits consumed, my Asian flush had made an appearance and it was time to call it a night.
I totes enjoyed my GIY experience at The Happenstance but genuinely, other places can learn a thing or two about service from this establishment. The place may have a strategic location advantage and very ‘grammable knick knacks, but it’s truly the staff that keeps it all together. Oh, and I’m definitely going back with a proper cam to show you guys how gorgeous the place is.
You can try the GIY menu til end of March. Mixology masterclasses at The Happenstance (and other Drake & Morgan spots) cost £25 per person for three cocktails. I mean, how ridiculously cheap is that?! If you’re looking for something to do in the city, it’s definitely good fun – and you can sample their hip, modern gastronomic offering after too.
1 Ludgate Hill, London EC4M
I was invited to try the GIY menu by Drake & Morgan / Roche Com