What: Delicious gins, scrummy canapés and… all that Jazz.
New: The Waldorf Hilton has been a symbol of British heritage set in the heart of Covent Garden since the 1900’s. So no, we couldn’t say it was new. The Gin and Jazz evenings, however, are fresh on the scene.
Where: The evening itself happens in the Good Godfrey’s bar and lounge, which is directly to your right as you enter through the main doors. Fint it at The Waldorf Hilton, Aldwych, WC2B 4DD, www.hilton.com.
The Look: Long cushioned bench-seats stretch along two sides of the room and individual tables are set up with their accompanying chairs. On one side, the floor to ceiling windows look out onto the London streets and on the opposite side you gaze onto three large oval mirrors that really open up the space. At the far end, before the bar, Blue Rose is set up with a microphone and a young guitarist called Curtis. The lights are low and soft; we’re waiting in anticipation.
On the menu: The concept of the night sees you choose four different gins and four different canapes to sample throughout the evening. There’s also a selection of gin-based cocktails to choose from, for those wishing to get a little experimental as the evening progresses…
What we drank: Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray No10, Martin Miller’s, Xoriguer, Hendricks, Sipsmith’s, and Monkey 47 (don’t panic, these weren’t all for me (at least, not ALL)).
My highlights included Bombay Sapphire served with spiralled lemon peel, and pink pepper corns. Though it tasted delicious and looked elegant, beware: I know the saying goes “pretty in pink”, but it wasn’t so pretty when that pink got stuck in my teeth. Nevertheless, it was still one of my faves.
The winner, however, was The Monkey 47, which came with raspberries, blackberries, and what looked like a smoking cigar! It was, in fact, a cinnamon stick (ta da!). The cinnamon infuses into the gin giving it a smoky injection of warm spice; and the longer you leave it the better it gets. Which was why I was reluctant to ever remove it from my glass. However, this made drinking my gin rather tricky, and I end up looking as though I’d failed miserably at a game of ibble dibble.
What we ate: The canapés arrived after gin number two and by this time I was feeling pretty peckish despite having practically polished off a bowl of nuts all by myself.
The tempura prawns and the mini fish’n’chips were a welcome sight and tasted as good as they looked, while the confit duck and cranberry filo parcel was my favourite (though it proved to be a bit of a mouthful and reduced us to crumbling messes it was well worth it).
The bruschetta was the only canapé that could’ve been improved. It tasted of nothing apart from water with a faint hint of tomato. Luckily, I started with that one so by the end I had forgotten all about it (okay, not quite, obviously, but to be fair I was taking notes). Overall the standard was high.
Go with: Anyone who loves jazz and, ideally, also a love interest (I’m assuming these are the same person, otherwise could be awks). On arrival the mood is already set, the entertainment provides ample conversation and atmosphere, and the gins are guaranteed to encourage a good time.
Final word: I really loved it. Our entertainment for the evening, Blue Rose and Curtis, were truly sensational. They played all the songs you love, from old to new, in their distinctive style: a real treat to watch and listen to. The staff, especially, deserve a shout out, they made everyone feel at home and nothing was too much trouble while every request was carried out with a twinkle in their eye. I would urge you all to go it’s such a great evening out, and something a little different.
The Gin and Jazz evenings happen every Thursday and Friday, entry is complimentary, but I’d book a table to avoid disappointment. Your choice of four gins and four canapes is a total steal at £30.