Earlier this year my boyfriend, Tom, and I spent Valentine’s Day on the roof of the Ham Yard Hotel, nestled under cosy woollen blankets, sipping on hot G&Ts and steaming juleps for Sipsmith’s Swan on a Hot Gin Roof.
Thanks to the incredibly charismatic Sipsmith team who talked us through the history of hot gin, the entire evening was as enchanting as it was educational and, even 6 months later, the night is still spoken about as one of the best we’ve ever had.
You can imagine my excitement then, when I discovered Sipsmith would be hosting a summer pop-up, The Sipsmith Punch House, at one of my favourite places in London, The House of St Barnabas; Celebrating the launch of their new London Cup—which is really, really good by the way.
I was lucky enough to visit The House of Saint Barnabas for a meeting last year and was in awe from the moment I walked through the (very heavy) door. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the property has acted as a house of charity since 1846 and now operates as a not-for-profit private members club assisting the homeless.
It’s the type of place where minutes unknowingly become hours as you explore the many corridors and rooms; filled with art, fine details and unbelievable history.
With signs gilded in gold leading the way, we were directed down a gothic corridor and instructed to take a wax-sealed envelope, before being escorted to the Dickens Room and handed glass of the London Cup.
Now, I may have my visa revoked for saying this, but I’m not a huge fan of Pimm’s; simply, I find it far too sweet.
With this in mind, I had a feeling the Sipsmith Cup would be much of the same, however I was pleasantly surprised. It’s still sweet, that’s for sure, but there’s an undoubtable note of citrus that cuts through—making it the perfect balance for people with tastes like mine.
Sipsmith’s Patron of Partnerships and Tour Queen (coolest job title ever), Chesca, gave us a quick introduction to the Cup and talked us through the history of punch—derived from the Sanskrit word, pañc, meaning five; the number of ingredients needed for the perfect punch.
Now that we knew every good punch needed something sweet, something sour, something strong, something weak and something spicy—it was time to sample some more of these concoctions for ourselves.
We made our way outside, to the space that, in 1859, was described by Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities, as ‘a courtyard where a plane tree rustled its green leaves’.
After taking our seats in the sunshine, we eagerly ripped open our envelopes to reveal six beautiful menu cards.
We decided to kick things off with the mojito-esque Royal Ivy Punch and the Garrick Club Summer Punch, a favourite of Charles himself.
Next on order was the Gin Punch a la Sipsmith—derived from a recipe found in William Terrington’s Cooling Cups & Dainty Drinks; the first British cocktail recipe book—and the Gin Punch au Soyer, which was adapted from a recipe by the first ‘celebrity chef’, Alexis Benoit Soyer, who counted Queen Victoria as one of his many fans.
Speaking of chefs, we also decided to line the stomachs with some delicious polenta chips in a dreamy curry sauce and a bowl of olives—because you can never go wrong with a good bowl of olives.
Unintentionally saving the best for last, The Cosmopolitan Punch, inspired by the 1933 favourite, the Cosmopolitan Daisy, and the French 75 Punch, a faultless mix of Champagne and citrus, was the perfect way to end the day.
Lucky for you London lot, The Punch House is open for another few weeks so grab your tickets and enjoy!