Penyhill Park Hotel & Spa near Bagshot.
Pennyhill Park Hotel & Spa near Bagshot. Most recently, we celebrated our wedding anniversary here Pennyhill Park Hotel & Spa near Bagshot where, after enjoying swimming and listening to music under the water, the various types of sauna, tepidarium, steam room, laconium and numerous other spa-y type activities, we then had a saunter around the Home of England Rugby (where they train when the 6 Nations/World Cup are on). After all that activity – and braving what they call the Ice Igloo, we really felt we’d earned our G&Ts. We retired to the bar, which was where we were served Aviator Gin, with elderflower tonic and lashings of ice, fabulous – boy, did they hit the spot!
“lashings of ice, fabulous – boy, did they hit the spot!”
Thank you to Skyeyevideo Ltd for their stunning video.
The Beetle & Wedge Boathouse Restaurant, Moulsford. A lot of us associate enjoying a drink – especially a lovely refreshing G&T – with drawing a line under a long hard day. In our case it was the end of an increasingly frantic search for somewhere to moor up our rented Thames river cruiser for the night after striking out in Goring as dusk fell on a June evening. Unlike the UK’s canal network, river banks are largely too shallow to get in close, so we were delighted when the manager of the Beetle &Wedge told us we could use one of its three moorings as long as we were going to eat there.
We ordered two large gins with Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic and lime while we looked at the menu and watched the daylight disappear over the river. And the food was fantastic too.
Windows Bar and Restaurant, Hilton on Hyde Park, London. This isn’t the tallest watering hole in the capital but the 28thfloor bar and restaurant does afford some of the best views, looking out across Hyde Park and the Palace. The first time I went there was for a press conference where a big firm of London architects had put up panoramic boards in front all the windows, highlighting all the projects they had worked on. Sadly it was so foggy you couldn’t see the ground that day, but we’ve been back many times since to enjoy a gin and tonic or a glass of wine. Despite the sky high prices, the views are breath-taking and well worth it.
Down on the decking. Monty Don should probably take credit for this one as the presenter of BBC2’s Gardener’s World insists you need seating areas around the place to just sit and enjoy the fruits of your labour. Actually the only home grown thing which ever goes into one of my gins is a slice of cucumber – unless you count the ice – but as mentioned in the introduction to this blog, the decking area we built at the bottom of our veg garden has become a favourite location to sit and watch the sun go down over our old granite mill-house.
Raffles Long Bar.This is actually one which still only features on my bucket list, but the famous hotel – named after the founder of Singapore, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles – is a must visit destination for countless thousands calling at the low lying Malaysian island as a staging post on the way out East. Even those who don’t normally touch gin feel compelled to sample one of the equally famous Singapore Slings, invented around 1915 by Ngiam Tong Boon, a bar tender there.
Gin Slings in general have been popular since the late 18thcentury, but conflicting accounts of what should go into a Singapore Sling make me think that the recipe has been revamped almost as often as “Trigger’s broom”. Apparently early notes have been discovered and the memory banks of various 20thcentury bar staff have been searched to come up with the modern cocktail whose red colour comes from Cherry Heering, and contains a quarter ounce of both Benedictine and Cointreau, as well as pineapple and lime juice. A third of an ounce of grenadine and a dash of bitters also go in with the gin and ice. Like James Bond it’s shaken not stirred. I’m sure someone who has actually been there and got the T-shirt will want to correct me on this, but as I said accounts vary, and I think where you drink it and who with will be the most important aspect to remember.
Our friend Bill at Raffles!