The Hendricks Gin experiences have been an annual fixture at the Fringe for some time. A few years ago I was lucky enough to get a seat on their bus, disguised as a giant cucumber no less, for an amusing and highly enjoyable elegant gin tea combined with a comedy guided city tour. Tickets were priced ridiculously low (it included a gin cocktail in a teapot, G&T and macaron for a few pounds), perhaps as it was being used chiefly as a marketing vehicle. Then last year they offered a brief free gin tasting comedy experience at their pop up in Assembly Gardens. In 2019 they have launched a paid and ticketed show.
The Journey of (Tini) Martini Enlightenment is still an unashamed plug for Hendricks Gin. But given the ticket prices (£8 weekdays, £10 weekends) include three mini martinis, this is still excellent value and fair cop. And it’s not just a plain old tasting, there’s comedy, interaction, visual spectacle and oodles of flair in this Pythonesque site-specific, immersive and interactive journey.
The audience is gathered from the gardens by a gentleman in period clothing, with a megaphone, then ushered through a cabinet (which is also a door/portal – in the vein of trendy secret bar entrances). We process down a moodily lit passage, where a hooded figure greets us with a wry comment, before reaching an elegantly set room of (circa 1930s) curiosities. It is completed with a period bar and a fascinating array of antique and vintage objets. Each table is set with china and more intriguing articles. Gramaphone music plays and we feel as if we’ve been swept into the past – or a mysterious and whimsical fantasy world. It’s wonderfully escapist and a feast for the eyes.
Our two debonair hosts are charming, cheeky and funny, as we’re educated in the history and libation of the martini. At times there’s song and poetry (always intentionally silly and light-hearted), well lit with to match the drinks, for atmospheric effect. The final martini is the most exciting – a colour changing affair with an edible flower that elicits ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the group.
The only flaw in the piece is the script isn’t perfect and could do with some tweaking at points. But this is a gloriously silly, informative and entertaining ‘theatrical deep-dive into the multiverse of Hendricks gin’. The run ended on the 18th of August. Hopefully, Hendricks will be back in.
Photo courtesy of Grant Anderson