When House of Coco was invited to step aboard the good train Bombay Sapphire for The Grand Journey we could barely hold our excitement – cocktails and travel?! Now that’s the ticket!
The Grand Journey is a spectacular celebration of ten of the key ingredients in the sparkling blue Bombay Sapphire bottle, taking us around the world to sample the ingredients and hear the stories behind them.
The train passed through London in mid-October before carrying on to other European destinations like Berlin, Barcelona and Amsterdam. We were lucky enough to jump onboard for the ride and grab a classy G&T with the culinary masterminds behind the experience – The Robin Collective…
Upon arriving at London’s Bike Shed we were welcomed by a nicely dressed chap called Gerald with what can only be described as a goblet of gin and tonic and then ushered onto the Bombay Sapphire train by the conductor. Seated in a gorgeous art deco style banquette with our fellow travellers we weren’t at all sure what to expect when the ‘train’ embarked on its journey – complete with sound effects and the very clever use of screens acting as the train windows, taking us through the countryside of Italy, the volcanoes of Java and finally the great british fields on our quest to learn about Bombay Sapphire’s ingredients.
Each of our Grand Journey stops was accompanied with a culinary trick, alcohol treat or immersive sketch to keep traveller’s fatigue at bay. The edibles by The Robin Collective immersed us in the ingredient’s location; a vegan lemon pate for lemon peel from Spain, a stunning floral jelly (that takes 20 minutes to make by hand!) and savoury almond churros that were to die for. Alongside tasty tricks and were quirky cocktails by Happiness Forgets’ Geoff Robinson that were served next to smoking volcanoes and in a Chinese tea-set. Our ever-so-slightly camp train staff kept us amused with shadow puppet stories, slight of hand magic and even a little floor show that got some of our fellow travellers a little hot under the collar!
We absolutely adore a fun evening out with a few tipples and this was no exception – the cocktails were delicious and really showed another side to gin, just in time for the autumn and winter season where a crisp G&T just doesn’t quite cut it anymore!
Disembarking from the train we ended our journey in Laverstoke; the distillery location for Bombay Sapphire, nestled in rural Hampshire and shared a cheeky cocktail with Robin and Brandy, Co-Founders of The Robin Collective to learn more about vegan surprises, chefs favourite moulds and jelly technique…
HOC: We loved the treats on offer tonight and were bowled over that they were all vegan, how did that come about?
Brandy: Vegan food is accessible to everyone and you can’t say the same for meat dishes! Plus we work with an amazing chef who runs a vegan restaurant in Glasgow. Alongside the food we had a lot of fun working on the aromas in the train to help take you on your journeys.
HOC: That lemon pate (shaped like a lemon) was incredible and the jelly was a masterpiece – we almost didn’t want to eat it!
Robin: The moulds for the lemon pate were made from real lemons and our chefs have their favourites to work with, it’s so funny! The jellies are a labour of love; it takes 20 minutes to make each one as we paint them by hand. The idea for it came about in one of the ‘Inspiration Afternoons’ we held in our office. Now we’re making 1,000 jellies per location and having to send out one of our team to Berlin to keep an eye on the jelly production!
HOC: Well, they are worth it! We love what you guys do but it’s got to be tricky sometimes- what’s some of the biggest challenges you come up against?
Brandy: Kitchens are always a challenge but we’ve designed our own set up to be as mobile and efficient as possible. Running water can also be a challenge, depending on where you are working from. We love to travel and be a part of everything we work on – we’re only a small team and we like to be close to everything and make sure it all goes amazingly!
With that we let Robin and Brandy get back to painting their jellies and escape in a VR headset tour of the Bombay Sapphire distillery – looking to all onlookers as if we’d definitely had a few too many!
The Grand Journey has now departed for mainland Europe but fear not, you can enjoy a Bombay Sapphire cocktail at The Gilbert Scott, Cahoots and The Cocktail Trading Company in London until 6th November. The Bombay Sapphire distillery is nestled in rural Hampshire and open 7 days a week, perfect for a day out – we’ll see you there?