As mentioned in my review of The Thinking Drinkers earlier in the week, Edinburgh is full of pop-up bars during the Festivals. To be honest, most of them serve warm, bog-standard, overpriced beer, wine and cocktails. This year though, Hendrick’s has pulled out all the stops with its eloquently named Emporium of Sensorial Submersion.
Occupying all five floors of what I’m guessing is usually an office block at 91 George St, the Emporium is like stepping back in time to the Victoria era, with the whole building kitted out in antique furniture and suitably moustachioed bartenders on hand. On the ground floor, punters could relax with a G&T in the quirky surroundings. It was on the upper floors though where our two-hour experience would take place, where we were promised “an unprecedented panoply of sensory enlightenment” which would “offer audible, palatable and tangible stimulation to all curiously minded individuals”
Our sensory experience was hosted by four dapper ‘Victorian’ gents, who would awaken our senses, which each room educating and stimulating mind, body and soul. All the better, we had a drink in hand the whole time! The Quietest Bar on Earth helped to cleanse our minds of outside influences; the Cacophony Bar allowed all drinkers to ‘play’ their cocktails; and the whole experience was topped off with a cleansing Gong Bath (crazy, but it really worked). My favourite part of the entire experience though was The Audio-gastrotorium Laboratory, which demonstrated – to dramatic affect – how all sensory stimuli are interconnected and how tampering with one or more can have an effect on all the others.
With so many great gins out there, it’s easy to forget that it was Hendrick’s which kicked off the current gin revolution and this event was a great reminder of what a versatile spirit it is. Using Hendrick’s as their base, some of Scotland’s best bartenders created a whole range of drinks, from a refreshing G&T and a knock-my-socks-off gin Martini, to the fantastically named Corpse Reviver No. 2 (what happened to no. 1?!) and a non-alcoholic cucozade. Bar the final drink, Hendrick’s provided a great base of all these drinks, without overpowering the other flavours.
After over 15 years on the drinks scene, Hendrick’s has re-affirmed its position as the top-dog among the UK’s innumerable gins, and hopefully we’ll be welcoming them back to the Edinburgh Festivals again next year.