To Le Pont de la Tour on a warm July evening for a cocktail masterclass hosted by locally based Jensen’s Gin. Welcomed with a Pink 75 cocktail – a twist on the classic French 75 – we sat down in an intimate meeting room found at the back of the French restaurant, only a stone’s throw from Tower Bridge.
Hosted by Jensen’s Gin brand ambassador, Hannah Lanfear, and Le Pont de la Tour head barman, Dainius, the masterclass was the first the restaurant has held. The boardroom table was covered in cocktail-making equipment, such as strainers, shakers, stirrers and ice containers, as well as Jensen’s Old Tom and Bermondsey Dry gins, that we would soon be getting to know.
The evening kicked off with a factual yet extremely engaging introduction to gin and the history of Jensen’s. Accompanied by a delicious selection of canapes – grilled bread with san daniele prosciutto, salad and three spreads: hummus, olive and aubergine – we learned about Jensen’s Gin founder, Christian Jensen, and his penchant for distilling gin “as it should be” in the heart of Bermondsey, London’s 19th century trade and industry hub.
Following a demonstration from Dainius on how to make a classic Tom Collins – a cocktail that first appeared in 1869 – using Jensen’s Old Tom gin, we were let loose on the table tools to concoct our own cocktail. The Old Tom is an unsweetened, earthy gin, whilst the Bermondsey Dry is smoother; emanating delicate floral and citrus notes. We later used this to create our own Dry Martini, with a garnish of lemon rind or the classic green olive.
Originating in Holland during the 17th century, gin was originally produced for its medicinal qualities, and Jensen’s only uses classic gin botanicals; juniper, liquorice root, coriander and lemon. Our boozy history lesson came to a head when we were tested on some of the things we had learnt, with a special rhubarb infused gin as the glorious prize. Only available to buy at the Bermondsey distillery, we were keen to win, but it seemed that we had soaked up more gin than facts as we were trumped by another guest.
A fantastic night filled with gin-fused anecdotes, table-round laughter and engaging facts. It’s safe to say that Jensen’s masterclass has well and truly nourished our penchant for gin.
By Aimee Phillips