Once in a Lifetime

Back in the US, as I started to contemplate writing this fantastic and amazing day up, I really found I had a hard time dealing with the enormity of the experience.

Frankly, I’m from the Midwest. We just don’t deal with emotion particularly well. Garrison Keilor is not lying.

As I was writing up some of the posts, the statue and portrait of Winston Churchill in the Savoy Meeting room still bothered me.

Dry Martini Setup

Googled “Winston Churchill Savoy Hotel”.

Oh shit, that room was the Pinafore Room, where Winston Churchill used to meet with The Other Club.

“Churchill, who in 1910 was Liberal Home Secretary, and barrister and Conservative MP F. E. Smith had not been invited to join the venerable political dining club known just as The Club. Although both had friends in it, the members thought Churchill and Smith too controversial. So they established their own club, to be called by contrast “The Other Club”.

The initial membership was 12 Liberals, 12 Conservatives, and 12 “distinguished outsiders” who were not in politics. With the help of David Lloyd George (then Chancellor of the Exchequer) another non-member of The Club, they put together such a list and the first dinner was on 18 May 1911. The Chief Whips of the two parties were co-secretaries of the club, so that pairs could be arranged, meaning members dinner would not be interrupted by divisions in the parliament.”

Churchill, famous for his love of a Martini, especially the version that is simply a Big, Cold, Glass of Plymouth Gin.

Friday Afternoon Cocktail: Churchill’s Martini

“Churchill loved his martinis, and he was particular about how he made them. He demanded gin, not vodka or any mix of the two, and Plymouth gin to be exact. You’ll know Plymouth because of its notable Mayflower motif, apparently because “Like the pilgrims, gin traveled from Leyden to Plymouth before coming to the New World.” He was very light on the vermouth – the legend is that in place of it, Churchill would simply nod in the direction of France.”

OK, so we made a Plymouth Martini for the time capsule shaker in the Pinafore Room at the Savoy Hotel, where Winston Churchill used to meet with The Other Club.

Head Explodes. That is some serious voodoo.

The whole day, honestly, was like that.

Harry Craddock’s grave. Meeting the Savoy Head Barmen. Burns’ statue on Burns Night. Simpson’s-in-the-Strand. Cafe Royal. The Dorchester. The grand old Savoy Hotel herself.

So much history, so evocative.

“Once in a Lifetime,” hardly sums it up.

I started this whole Savoy Trip on eGullet in June of 2006. Not intending to start a blog. Not intending to be a bartender. Not intending to do anything other than to learn a little more about how classic cocktails were made.

7 years later, after finishing making the Savoy Cocktails, (don’t talk to me about punches and cups,) this trip was the culmination of a lot of work, a lot of fun, and the capper to a whole chapter of my life.

I really am still trying to figure out what it means.

Thank you Plymouth Gin, Jared and Anistatia, Erik Lorincz, everyone who reads this blog, and especially, my wife Michele, who has encouraged me at every turn, to follow my interests and my dreams.

Savoy Head Bartender Signatures

Previous Posts:

Gunnersbury Tube Station

Robert Burns, The Savoy Hotel, and the White Lady

Simpson’s-in-the-Strand and the Sidecar

Cafe Royal and The Bronx Cocktail

The Dorchester and the Manhattan

The Savoy Hotel and the Dry Martini.

The Savoy Hotel and the Dry Martini Cocktail

Continuing the writeup of the day I spent in London celebrating the life and legacy of Harry Craddock.

Previous Posts:

Gunnersbury Tube Station

Robert Burns, The Savoy Hotel, and the White Lady

Simpson’s-in-the-Strand and the Sidecar

Cafe Royal and The Bronx Cocktail

The Dorchester and the Manhattan

Count Peter

Our cars returned us to the Savoy Hotel, where under the watchful gaze of Count Peter of Savoy, we are escorted to a room near the back of the hotel.

Dry Martini Setup

Huh, seems to be a portrait of Sir Winston Churchill, behind all that Gin. And a statue of him in the corner giving the famous V for Victory hand sign. Wonder what that is about? Lots of famous people and politicians at the Savoy, I suppose.

Maximilian Warner from Plymouth starts, thanking us for coming, what a momentous and meaningful experience it has been for him, highlight of his career. He also explains that this long time in coming party to celebrate the legacy of Plymouth Gin and Harry Craddock, was a going away party for him of sorts, he will be leaving the Plymouth company for parts unknown. He then hands the “Mic” over to Erik Lorincz, to say some words, and make the final cocktail of the day, The Dry Martini. Erik says something cute like, “My hands are shaking too much in this esteemed company, I’d like to invite someone up to help me make this cocktail. Someone whose work has done a lot to popularize both the Savoy Cocktail Book and Harry Craddock’s legacy, Erik Ellestad.” Gulp.

Two Eriks at Savoy

(Photo by Jared Brown

OK, now my hands are shaking far more than Erik Lorincz’! A few questions as we make the cocktail, about the Savoy Cocktail Book Project. I manage to stammer out a couple semi coherent answers, didn’t know I’d be doing any public speaking, and somehow we both, shaking hands and all, manage to get the final cocktail, The Dry Martini, into the cocktail shaker time capsule for posterity.

Pouring Plymouth for Martinis

(Photo by Jared Brown)

Public speaking over, and lo, there was much rejoicing, Martinis, and Gin and Tonics.

How Many Savoy Head Bartenders to Pour a Martini

(Photo by Jared Brown)

Just how many Savoy Head Bartenders does it take to make a Martini?

Speaking of Head Bartenders, last year Angus Winchester blew through town promoting Tanqueray Gin, and brought with him a copy of the Savoy Cocktail Book he’d had Erik Lorincz and Peter Dorelli sign. I’d brought it along this day, and surreptitiously had the other Savoy Bartenders sign my copy.

Angus Savoy Cocktail Book

Unfortunately, Joe Gilmore’s illness made it impossible for me to get his signature.

Savoy Head Bartender Signatures

Or did it…

Savoy Cocktail Book

As part of the gift pack, they gave us a new edition of the Savoy Cocktail Book, with an introduction from Erik Lorincz and modern cocktails from the Savoy Bar, but they also had all of the living Savoy Head Bartenders Sign the copies, including Joe Gilmore.

Yes, I suppose I am a Savoy Nerd to get excited about this. Is that a bad thing?

Gift Bags

(Photo by Jared Brown)

I suppose I should mention, at this point, that one of the features of the tour, was the launch of the new Plymouth bottle in England. I can say without reservations that the people at Plymouth, Beefeater, and apparently, Chivas, along with their parent company Pernod Ricard, have been great supporters of the Savoy Project. I’ve met a lot of good people who work for them, and especially thank Trevor Easter for helping out get me across the pond for this day of celebration.

Gift Box

And the mysterious blue box which accompanied our gift bag, was also very cool.

5 Cocktails

Included a card with the 5 cocktails we had enjoyed during the course of the day and some wrapped items.

Contents

A goblet style glass, a small decorative cocktail shaker, and a bottle of Plymouth Gin in the new bottle.

Glass, Shaker, Gin

“Here’s to Harry Craddock ‘Bartender Legend’, Friday 25 January, 2013.”

To Harry

Finally, I will add a sixth cocktail to the 5, the Corpse Reviver (No 4)…

Corpse Reviver No 2

Corpse Reviver (No 4)

3/4 oz Plymouth Gin
3/4 oz Kina l’Avion d’Or (I’ve been curious how the Kina from Tempus Fugit would work in a Corpse Reviver variation, and I had some in the house. Pretty tasty. I was afraid it would totally dominate, but it behaves itself here and works kind of nicely with the Cointreau.)
3/4 oz Cointreau
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
dash Absinthe

Shake and strain into a celebratory goblet.

…and raise a glass to Harry Craddock, the Savoy Hotel, and Plymouth Gin.

Cheers!