The London cocktail scene is absolutely booming at the moment and what better way to celebrate than a week dedicated to the innovative creations of the capital’s best mixologists? London Cocktail Week returned for the seventh year, with an incredible line up of events, tastings and masterclasses for all lovers of mixed drinks. As part of the celebrations I was invited by Drambuie to participate in a Cocktail Masterclass and a night of Jazz at The Brass & Crimson at The Hoxton Hall.
We were greeted by the smiling face of Freddy May, the Global Drambuie Ambassador who welcomed us in and I soon had a one of his classic concoctions, a Drambuie Collins in my hand.
A twist on a Tom Collins, the cocktail blends the sweetness of Drambuie with soda water, lemon and mint making it refreshing and light. Perfect for those days when summer drifts slowly into autumn and you’re looking for a something a little warming but still very easy to drink.
As we sipped out cocktails, Freddy explained a little about the history of Drambuie. The story actually begins in 1746 with Bonnie Prince Charlie who after being defeated in the Battle of Culloden escaped to the Isle of Skye. Under the protection the MacKinnon clan he thanked them with the last precious possession; the recipe to his own special potion…
Fast forward over a hundred years and the recipe was past down through generations on the Isle of Skye until finally John Ross served it to his customers at The Broadford Hotel and his family registered it as a trademark. The honied taste and golden appearance of the drink grew in popularity and with the establishment of The Drambuie Liqueur Company, word quickly spread and in 1917 the drink was a favourite in Buckingham Palace and The House of Lords.
To help us understand the next layer of the history of Drambuie, we were introduced to Ulysses Vidal from the iconic New York bar, Employees Only. Prohibition meant consumption of the drink was forced underground but Drambuie had its true heyday in New York in the 50s. The liqueur and the smooth, cool jazz of the era seemed to go hand in hand and the drink grew even further in popularity. When the 1960s saw the invention of the famous Rusty Nail at New York’s 21 Club, a classic was born.
It was time for us to try our hand at recreating the classic. A drink not for the faint hearted, the Rusty Nail contains one part Drambuie two parts blended Scotch whiskey over ice, it’s no wonder it’s a favourite of Tony Soprano.
Then it was on to the next part of our evening; The Brass & Crimson at The Hoxton Hall.
With its bare brick walls, lofty ceilings and lit up stage we were transported back to 1960s New York. On the menu were all the Drambuie favourites, the drinks we’d tried already and a few other including the Hootenanny, a mix of Drambuie, grapefruit, wheat beer and a mint garnish.
We sat back in the venue’s gallery to listen to Azymuth, a Brazilian jazz funk trio originally formed in 1973 whose bluesy tunes provided the perfect background to enjoying our drinks. Following Azymuth were the chilled out sounds of Brooklyn-native producer and composer Taylor McFerrin with drummer Marcus Gilmore. To enjoy the music for yourself check out the live link from the night.
I really loved the way the people at Drambuie, didn’t just serve us drinks but turned the evening into an interactive experience that appealed to all the senses so that we could absorb the whole atmosphere of the evening.
This post is sponsored by Drambuie