All about Gin – Myth and legend

The first confirmed date for the production of gin is the early 17th century in Holland, although claims have been made that it was produced prior to this in Italy. In Holland it was produced as a medicine and sold in chemist shops to treat stomach complaints, gout and gallstones.

Dutch Courage

English troops fighting alongside the Dutch in the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) noticed that the Dutch soldiers were extremely courageous in battle. This bravery was attributed to the calming effects of the medicinal elixir known as gin, small bottles of which where carried by Dutch troops hanging from their belts. English troops soon followed their Dutch counterparts example.

Hot Gin and Gingerbread

Whenever the weather turned cold in 18th Century London, crowds would gather to explore the stalls and tents selling hot gin and gingerbread that popped up along the frozen River Thames, at what became known as the London Frost Fairs.

The Gin Craze and Mothers Ruin

Historians attribute gin as being England’s first drug craze and an early harbinger of binge drinking! Its consumption was particularly marked in women, thus its various female nicknames including Mothers Ruin, which is said to describe the disastrous effects on the family as a consequence of mothers drunk on gin.

Hogarth depicted the perceived evils of gin drinking in his etching and engraving ‘Gin Lane’, published as a pair with ‘Beer Street’ in 1751. The images were designed to advocate the merits of beer drinking, compared to the evils of gin drinking. Thus ‘Beer Street’ depicts happy and healthy residents going about their daily lives, whereas ‘Gin Lane’ shows shocking scenes of infanticide, starvation, madness, decay and suicide.

The Gin Riots

The Gin Act was introduced in London in 1736, in an attempt to tackle the burgeoning problem of alcohol abuse by the poor, widely attributed to gin consumption. The Gin Act made gin prohibitively expensive. A licence to retail gin cost £50 and duty was raised fivefold to £1 per gallon with the smallest quantity you could buy being two gallons. The Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, and Dr. Samuel Johnson were among those who opposed the Act as they considered it could not be enforced against the will of the common people. They were right. Riots broke out and the law was widely and openly flouted, with gin production going underground and consumption continuing to rise.

The Gin Act was finally repealed in 1742 as unenforceable and a new policy, which distillers helped to draft was introduced.

The Birth of the Gin and Tonic

As the British Crown took over the governance of India, British immigrants began to struggle with the ravages of malaria. A local cure came from the bark of the cinchona or ‘fever’ tree, which contained the notoriously bitter quinine. To make it more palatable, sugar, lime, ice and gin were added – and the G&T was born.

Related Articles: for further information and to download the 2016-2017 artist directory

Published in Aspect County April 2017 edition

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” ― The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James

– Mad Hatters Tea Party at The Sanderson Hotel –

The serving of afternoon tea has experienced a truly epic resurgence in popularity over the last decade, now featuring at the top of most Londoners to do list. This most quintessential of English customs is however a relatively new tradition.

Whilst the custom of drinking tea dates back to the third millennium BC in China and was popularised in England during the 1660s by King Charles II and his wife the Portuguese Infanta Catherine de Braganza, it was not until the mid 19th century that the concept of ‘afternoon tea’ first appeared. Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, is widely attributed with introducing afternoon tea in England around 1840. The Duchess would become hungry around four o’clock in the afternoon and would ask that a tray of tea, bread and butter and cake be brought to her room at Woburn Abbey during the late afternoon. This became a habit of hers and she began inviting friends to join her in her rooms. This practice became so popular that the Duchess continued it when she returned to London after the summer.

This pause for afternoon tea soon became a fashionable social event and during the 1880’s upper-class and society women began changing into long gowns, gloves and hats for their afternoon tea, which was usually served in the drawing room between four and five o’clock. Afternoon tea is distinct from the more substantial high tea, which was traditionally served in middle and lower class households later in the day in place of dinner. The names derive from the height of the tables, high tea being served at a dinner table.

To recognise the best in afternoon tea service and creativity, the London Afternoon Tea awards sponsored by, look for outstanding delivery in all aspects of the afternoon tea experience including service, food and drink. Over 30 of London’s finest hotels and restaurants were shortlisted in 2016, with the top four awards presented as follows:

A further fourteen establishments were awarded highly commended:

  • The Langham London
  • Fortnum & Mason
  • Harrods – Georgian Restaurant
  • Sketch
  • The Milestone Hotel
  • Brown’s Hotel, Mayfair
  • The Connaught
  • The Goring
  • Royal Garden Hotel
  • Corinthia London
  • The Dorchester
  • Ting @ Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard
  • The Lanesborough
  • Conrad London St James

Claridge’s, Brook Street, Mayfair W1K 4HR


Although Claridge’s began life as a single house hotel at 51 Brook Street it soon began to grow both in size and reputation, becoming a favourite with both royalty and European heads of state during the late 1800’s. Claridge’s was purchased and significantly remodelled by Richard D’Oyly Carte, owner of the Savoy at the end of the nineteenth century.

Having been significantly updated again at the end of the twentieth century, Claridge’s still retains its timeless elegance and luxury ranking today, with the likes of Jade Jagger and Lulu Guinness describing it as their ultimate treat.

Served daily between 2.45pm and 5.30pm in the splendour of Thierry Despont’s magnificent Foyer, inspired by the 1930s’ heyday of art deco, Afternoon Tea at Claridge’s is truly a magical experience and one you will want to return to time and again.


To make a reservation visit the website:

The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London SW1X 7LA


The Mandarin Oriental overlooking Hyde Park and Knightsbridge exudes an enticing mix of elegance and luxury. Currently undergoing an 18- month renovation programme, the hotel will remain open throughout, however afternoon tea will temporarily be served in the Loggia whilst the Rosebery Lounge undergoes a soft refurbishment.

To make a reservation visit the website:

Sanderson Hotel, 50 Berners Street, London W1T 3NG


Served between 12.30 – 4pm Monday – Saturday and 1pm – 5pm on Sunday Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson is a splendidly eccentric affair. Themed around the Mad Hatters Tea Party of Alice in Wonderland fame, you can expect menus hidden inside vintage books, teapots adorned with kings and queens, sandwich plates decorated with birdcages, carousels and ticking clocks upon which rest savoury, specialty sandwiches.


To make a reservation visit the website:

Park Room at Grosvenor House, Park Lane, Mayfair, London, W1K 7TN


Built on the site of Grosvenor House, the London home of the Duke of Westminster, the Grosvenor house Hotel has a long and aristocratic pedigree dating back to the 17th Century. Situated directly on Park Lane and now part of the JW Marriott Hotel group, the Hotel first opened its doors back in May 1929.

Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House is served daily between 12.30 and 6pm in the Park Room. With the design inspired by its close proximity to the Royal Park, the tranquility of the Park Room offers welcome respite from the shops and sights of Park Lane and Mayfair with a varied menu; featuring Afternoon Tea as well as a la carte options and a creative Cocktail and Champagne menu at the bar.


To make a reservation visit the website:

Afternoon Tea Etiquette!

Milk or Tea First?

This is possibly one of the most debated questions in the tea world; however most now adhere to the convention of pouring the tea first, thus allowing the recipient to flavour the tea to their own personal preference.


Place your spoon in a 6 o’clock position in the cup and fold the tea towards the 12 o’clock position whilst making sure not to ‘clink’ the spoon against the sides of the cup.

Pinkies up?

There is a common misconception about the need to outstretch your little finger whilst drinking tea; however etiquette experts state that this is not the case.

Which goes first, the jam or the cream?

Both the Cornish and Devonshire people lay claim to the invention of the Cream Tea, and each have a view on the order of the toppings. The Devon tradition is cream first with jam spread on top whilst the Cornish tradition is jam first topped off with clotted cream….

Published in Aspect County Magazine February 2017

When in Doubt, Skate it out…



Ice skating is one of London’s favourite winter pastimes, especially in the run-up to Christmas. There are several permanent indoor ice skating rinks in London, but in winter you’ll find many more indoor and outdoor ice rinks popping up across the capital. You can get your ice skates on this winter at iconic London locations, such as the historic Hampton Court Palace, the beautiful Somerset House and the majestic Natural History Museum. Shopping destinations such WestField London and Canary Wharf also feature seasonal indoor and outdoor rinks, often accompanied by Christmas Markets and seasonal pop up eateries. Outside of London the rink in front of the iconic Brighton Pavilion is definitely worth a look, together with the rink in Calverley Grounds Royal Tunbridge Wells.

Hampton Court Palace

Until 8 January 2017


This 1,040-square-metre (11,194-square-feet) outdoor ice rink offers spectacular views of the magnificent Tudor palace where Henry VIII once lived.

Somerset House

Until 15 January 2017


Set against a stunning neoclassical façade, Skate at Somerset House in partnership with Fortnum & Mason is open all day and well into the evening, when you can skate to live DJs. You can learn to skate or perfect your skills at the weekend skate school and little ones get to enjoy their very own section of the ice where they can practise with specially-designed bear skating aids. After your session, drop by Fortnum & Mason’s pop-up shop brimming with gifts and festive goodies in Somerset House’s West Wing and warm up with wintry food and drinks in Fortnum & Mason’s Lodge. Ice skating sessions generally run between 10am and 10.15pm daily, with shorter opening times on Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, as well as extended opening hours on selected dates. The ice rink is closed on Christmas Day.

National History Museum

Until 8 January 2017


This spectacular 950-square-metre (10,225-square-feet) rink is nestled in front of the iconic South Kensington museum and surrounded by 76,000 glittering fairy lights. Visit the museum’s Café Bar for winter warmers and watch the skaters glide on the ice from the cafe’s balcony. Opening times vary, but most ice skating sessions run between 10am and 10pm, with extended opening hours on weekends and in the days leading up to Christmas, as well as on New Year’s Eve when the rink opens until 12.30am (late-night New Year’s Eve tickets go on sale in November). The ice rink is closed on Christmas Day.

Tower of London

Until 3 January 2017


The Tower of London ice rink returns this winter, offering day and evening ice skating sessions in the setting of the historic London landmark. Catch up with friends and family on the ice or enjoy a romantic skate under the starry sky, as hundreds of snowflakes light up the wall of the fortress after dark. Cool down after your session with a visit to the Eis Haus. Wrapped up in one of the insulated coats provided, step inside the pop-up bar and lounge, made entirely of ice and enjoy a drink in a chilled ice glass surrounded by crystal-clear ice sculptures. For something cosier, the Dip-Dunk Lodge serves up delicious winter food including fondue, baked goods and warming drinks with a view over the ice rink. Ice skating sessions run between 11am and 10pm daily, except Christmas Day.

LUMINOCITY Canary Wharf Canada Square

Until 25 February 2017


Located in the centre of Canary Wharf, LUMINOCITY @ Ice Rink Canary Wharf will brighten up Canada Square Park this winter with more than 8km of LED lights laid beneath the ice. LUMINOCITY will showcase more than 16 million different colours every session and swathe skaters in an abundance of magical light to create a truly immersive skating experience. The ice rink is also fully covered by a clear roof to guarantee skating sessions whatever the weather. Canary Wharf also offers an abundance of shopping and eating experiences. A beautiful and modern part of London, Canary Wharf’s iconic skyline is an integral part of the landscape and, with the recent addition of Crossrail Place, has become a premier shopping and leisure destination offering new restaurants, a cinema, plus one of London’s biggest roof gardens. From small boutiques to designer labels, spanning beauty, fashion, fitness and homeware, more than 120 stores span five malls together with eateries to suit all tastes, occasions and budgets.

Brighton Pavilion

Until 15 January 2017

Brighton’s Royal Pavilion rink, with the ornate Regency pleasure palace as its backdrop, is open every day, and is a great way to round off a day of Christmas shopping in the famous surrounding lanes. This year, the rink side Bar & Kitchen is serving up warming soups, mulled wine and marshmallow-topped hot chocolate.

Royal Tunbridge Wells

Until 2 January 2017


Set in the beautiful splendour of Calverley Grounds’ amphitheatre and bathed in twinkling festive lights, the Royal Tunbridge Wells ice rink is back, bigger and better than ever this year! Father Christmas will also be visiting the rink on certain days and meeting children in his cosy, warm log cabin set amongst the trees. Check the website for full details.

Published in Aspect County Magazine – December Edition


Eating is a necessity but cooking is an art…

Following on from our post on London rooftop bars, we are now coming back down to earth with a selection of the hottest on-trend luxury eateries north south east and west of the city!

However, just to be contrary our first offering is 40 floors up!

Duck & Waffle


24/7 “all day” dining

Duck & Waffle is located on the 40th floor of 110 Bishopsgate; otherwise known as the Heron Tower. Completed in March 2011 and stretching 230m into the skyline, 110 Bishopsgate is one of London’s tallest buildings.

Duck & Waffle offers a playful take on traditional British cuisine with broad European influences emphasizing local, rustic, seasonal and sustainable ingredients. Dishes are designed for sampling and sharing and are complemented by an iconoclastic cocktail experience served in a vibrant atmosphere that welcomes guests 24/7.

Breakfast, brunch, late night, desserts: “all day” dining is redefined at Duck & Waffle. Serving from sunrise to sunset to sunrise again — and every hour in between.

Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY

T: +44 203 640 7310

Burger & Lobster


Fishing for the Truth

Burger & Lobster was founded in 2011 with the idea of going back to basics of a restaurant culture where craftsman offered only a few items that they were known for. The Burger & Lobster craftsmanship is exactly that. The Burger is made with highest quality natural beef and the Lobster is sustainable live lobster. Each dish is one price surrounded with good people and good energy.

Serving Burger and Lobster – plain and simple! No vegetarian option

Located throughout London. See website for full details

Bond Street Restaurant: 26 Binney Street, London W1K 5BN

Reservations for 6 people or more only

Telephone: 020 3637 5972


Sexy Fish


Asian Fish and Seafood

Sexy Fish is an Asian fish and seafood restaurant located on the South East corner of Berkeley Square, Mayfair. Designed by Martin Brudnizki Design Studio and decorated with artwork from Damien Hirst, Frank Gehry and Michael Roberts, the look and feel is mid-century glamour.

The restaurant is open until 2am, with a resident DJ all week long. A private dining space, The Coral Reef Room is located on the lower ground floor and houses two of the largest live coral reef tanks in the world.

The bar holds one of the world’s biggest Japanese whisky collections, as well as offering a drinks menu featuring both classic and inventive cocktails.

Berkeley Square House,
Berkeley Square,
London W1J 6BR

T: 0203 764 2000

Bubbledogs & Kitchen Table


Champagne & Hot Dogs at Bubbledogs

Bubbledogs was born in 2012 and is the brainchild of Sandia Chang and her husband James Knappett. These days Sandia is the personality and creative behind Bubbledogs, whilst James is busy at the helm of his Michelin star restaurant Kitchen Table at the back of Bubbledogs.

Sandia personally selects the grower Champagnes on the menu and is often in the kitchen, testing out and creating new hot dog recipes to introduce to the menu.

70 Charlotte Street, W1T 4QG

T: 0207 637 7770


Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs…

Tucked away at the back of Bubbledogs through a discrete entrance, is the 19 seat Kitchen Table. Awarded a Michelin star in 2014, Kitchen Table is a dining experience, encouraging full interaction with the chefs and showcasing previously unseen kitchen theatre.

Here Head Chef James Knappett prepares, cooks and serves a daily changing menu of meticulously sourced and foraged British ingredients.

For reservations and all other enquiries:


Chiltern Firehouse


As featured in Absolutely Fabulous: the movie!

Chiltern Firehouse celebrates contemporary, ingredient-focused cooking, with an underlying American accent. Michelin-starred chef Nuno Mendes draws on a career split between the United States and Europe to create a changing menu of reimagined classics and bold new flavours, with an emphasis on seasonality and healthy eating.

1 Chiltern Street, Marylebone, London W1U 7PA UK


T: 020 7073 7676



Covent Garden

Frenchie Covent Garden by Gregory Marchand is the newest outpost of the hugely popular Frenchie, Frenchie Wine Bar, Frenchie To Go and Frenchie Wine Shop hailing from the Rue du Nil in Paris’ 2nd arrondissement.

Having spent several long periods in the English capital cooking notably at the Savoy, Mandarin Oriental and Fifteen for Jamie Oliver, where the kitchen nickname ‘Frenchie’ originated, a return to London seemed inevitable.

The menu at Frenchie Covent Garden echo’s its Parisian counterpart with simple yet generous sharing dishes heavily influenced by Greg’s travels from London to New York through to Spain and Hong Kong. A 5-course Carte Blanche menu is also available on request and, subject to availability, downstairs overlooking the action from the kitchen.

16 Henrietta St, Covent Garden WC2E 8QH

T 0207 836 4422

E: reservations(at)

Published in Aspect County Magazine – August Edition