Exploring London with Beefeater

One of the things I was really looking forward to on this trip was getting a view of Olympic Stadium in London. Unfortunately, I was having sinus problems and the weather (for a boat ride) was not cooperating. I instead spent the morning resting up at the Duke’s Hotel, which left me with more energy for a full afternoon and evening.

When I finally left the hotel, I walked down to St. James park and then on to Buckingham Palace. My last two trips to London had been filled with no time for sightseeing so I hadn’t seen the palace since I was a teenager. It is more regal than I remembered, and the gardens (displaying tulips when I was there) were immaculate. I walked around the grounds so I could see it all from all angles.

As I started walking away through St. James Park’s Birdcage Walk, I noticed that there was a clearing an area of the road. I saw the guards at attention in front of a crowd at St. James Palace just before a car with Prince Charles’ wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, came out. The brief glimpse at the Duchess of Cornwall was probably the closest I will get to royalty!

I went back to the hotel in time to dress for an evening filled with activities. Our first stop was at the infamous and elegant American Bar at the Savoy Hotel.  It was quite an experience as we split up into the small tables and I enjoyed The Royal Tribute (Beefeater gin, champagne, cherries and Chartreuse) with Beefeater Master Distiller Desmond Payne and Guilt Taste Editor Jennifer Pelka.

After drinking cocktails we went on to making them at HIX Restaurant, where we met with infamous London mixologist Nick Strangeway. He led us through punch making, specifically the making of the Diamond Jubilee Punch for Queen Elizabeth II. The punch contained Beefeater gin, cassis, raspberry liqueur, cherry brandy, bitters, Twining’s Earl Grey Tea, lemon juice, sparkling wine and a black currant garnish. I also got to make another Strangeway created punch with British cassis, rhubarb, champagne and Compari. Both were delicious.

We stayed at HIX for a dinner in our own private room. During the meal I talked a bit with Beefeater Ambassador Seb Hamilton-Mudge about surfing and the many areas of England I had yet to explore.

Dinner started with a plate of Senorio Iberico Bellota Ham with grilled Catalan tomato bread, which was sweet and tasty. We then had a filet of Hereford beef on the bone (which I topped with a terrific Béarnaise sauce) accompanied by incredible Jersey Royal potatoes. Dessert was a chocolate mousse made to perfection, deep in cocoa flavor, but not too sweet. We were also given some decadent Julian Temperley chocolate truffles.

For after dinner drinks we headed to Novikovs, a very popular London club. It was noisy and crowded and we were all very happy to see we had a large table reserved. The staff brought out martinis (Beefeater, of course) in an absinthe-like pitcher, as well as bottles of the gin and an assortment of mixers. I played it safe with my usual gin and tonic, but there were some passing shots of Avion Tequila before we left at 1:00 am to go back to Duke's Hotel.

We had a very busy next day ahead of us as we were leaving early in the morning and heading to Plymouth. There we would see the spot the Mayflower left from on its journey to the United States, and learn more about the gin that bears the city’s name.


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