Ascend the stairs at The Clock House pub on the edge of Peckham Rye and you’ll find a great little space called Blake’s, and it was here that my business partner Zoe, and I, booked in for a Masterclass with Little Bird Gin, a London Dry based up the road in Peckham itself.
Our host was Laura, owner of the Little Bird brand. Laura waxed lyrical about the strict conditions under which your gin could be defined as ‘London Dry’ and how she and her partners had designed a recipe for their perfect gin, before taking it to a master-distiller in Clapham, to turn into the gin they have today – a gin that is increasingly popular and spreading in fame and fortune. Laura’s business plans include a new still, currently in production in the south east of England by traditional still craftsmen, and for this to be based in the heart of Peckham, in an old re-developed Railway Arch.
We sipped the gin neat as the place filled up with a range of enthusiasts, mostly Hendricks, Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray drinkers, and one or two with more exotic tastes. We discussed distillation techniques and botanicals – some of which had been brought along to be sniffed and inspected. Laura mixed the Little Bird ‘signature gin and tonic’ – a 35ml shot of Little Bird over plenty of ice, a thick slice of pink grapefruit and about 2/3rds of a bottle of Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic water. It was very welcome in the heat of a muggy June day, and disappeared all too quickly.
Laura went on to talk more about gin and tonics, cocktails and other brands – never bad-mouthing them, in fact if anything she was singing the praises of the likes of Gin Mare and Sipsmith; no gin wars to be found at this masterclass.
By this time we’d already had our £10 entry price worth, but there was more to come – Laura made us all Negronis, using a 3rd each measure of Little Bird, Campari and Dubonnet, with a little of the grapefruit peel squeezed around the rim, before being stirred in the glass with the ice. On first sip I have to confess to being more impressed with it than with any of those I had made myself a couple of weeks earlier, and by the time we’d consumed half the glass, both Zoe and I were actually becoming converts.
This was an informative, interesting and fun evening, complete with a couple of great drinks. Laura and her Little Bird gin are both captivating and excellent value – if you get the chance to try a Little Bird, or to meet Laura at one of their masterclasses, then take it, you won’t be disappointed.