Down the Portobello Road Market

Midweek, mid-evening, mid-summer(ish): a delightful August day that somehow managed to escape the flash-flood conditions of the previous few weeks is an ideal moment to be reintroduced to pub life. And by pub life, I mean a launch event, but tomayto-tomahto.

Anyhow, courtesy of the good folk at Portobello Road Gin, we were sat upstairs at their flagship gin palace in the heart of West London sipping deep on a Dirty Tuxedo (a sort-of wet dirty Martini given depth by Fino sherry) and watching the world go by. I’ve spoken before about Portobello Road’s new savoury offering, and given I thought it was excellent, why wouldn’t I take up the offer to try it in its natural habitat?

The drinks menu for the evening was designed to show off different aspects of their savoury gin, especially its kinship with olives – both the Riviera and Dirty Tuxedo were delightful, riffing off familiar patterns in new ways. The Silver Savoury Fizz paired up the bergamot and citrus with fresh lemon in as refreshing a manner as you could hope for, and of course, it makes for a very happy copa de balón of G&T.

As life has seemingly concertinaed into one singularity, we also got a bonus sneak peek at Portobello’s new vodka range at their rather swanky ‘secret bar’ at the top of the building. All bottled at 40% ABV, they started us with an unadorned potato vodka that showed off this marginalised spirit base to good effect, first neat and then in a Salt & Vinegar Martini (expected a car crash, really very enjoyable). There were then also:
Vanilla – a super-charged medium to get vanilla into your drinks. Delightfully aromatic, this tasted purely of high quality vanilla.
Coffee – the nose suggested this might be a bit sticky, but to drink it was pleasingly multidimensional, capturing in layers the fruity green notes, rich spices, cocoa and roasty elements that good coffee can contain.
Bergamot – this really got the layered aromatics of bergamot, with the rich citrus opening up with all those rose, pine and spice complexities.
All three of the flavoured vodkas went very light on the sweetness, which strikes me as a good idea for ensuring flexibility of use, and would place themselves happily in rotation in anyone’s cocktail bar.

Given that we had assiduously worked our way through the cocktails and then the vodka tasting, it seemed only sensible to finish on a G&T made with their Temperance gin, which did a very creditable job at 4.2%. From there, it was just a case of wandering down towards Notting Hill on a mild summer’s night to pick up a gelato and just extend the evening a little bit. It’s been a while, after all.

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