On Wednesday of this week, Gordon’s unveiled a limited edition range of bottles designed by Conran at an event in the vault of One Marylebone. I don’t manage to make it to many industry events due to my living so far from London, so I was pleased as punch when, with just one day’s notice, I was invited and discovered I could actually attend.
The Vault was lit with green up-lights, giving everything an air of Stephen King’s Tommy Knockers. I discovered, after the event, that it was a bit of a star-studded evening but being a bit culturally retarded, they mostly passed me by; personally, I was more interested in the G&T served with with Bottle Green Elderflower Cordial (garnished with cucumber, strawberry, lemon and mint – very tasty). Two celebs I did recognise were Emilia Fox and Philip Glenister, the stars of the recent Gordon’s ads. Sir Terence Conran was also in attendance.
The bottles were revealed with a rather dramatic countdown and the dropping of curtains to reveal ten decorated alcoves around the room. Each bottle was exhibited in its own display which showcased the design concept. The designs themselves were printed on fabric which was hand-stitched into a snug bottle-covering (including the cap) which softens the otherwise hard-lines of the traditional glass bottle.
As long as the formatting holds, either side of this paragraph are a couple of examples of what these designs look like. However, instead of posting ten pictures of dubious quality and then tediously banging-on about each one, I would recommend having a look at the Conran Blog and the Gordon’s site to check-out the official pictures and information. There is also a Q&A session about the project, with Sir Terence, here.
The displays were all very different and fun, but there were two that really stood out for me. Bottle 6′s alcove was hung with canvasses with the outline of the bottle design printed on them – paints and brushes were provided and people were encouraged to paint on the canvasses. Inevitably, someone painted something quite crude on one of them, but otherwise, good clean fun was had by all. The other was Bottle 10′s alcove, which contained raised beds that were planted-up with various herbs and decorated with green vegetables; the smell in there was incredible, with mint, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, earth, leeks and much more mingling to create a really heady atmosphere.
Only ten sets of these bottles will be sold, exclusively through Selfridges, and will retail at a tremendous £400 per bottle (£4000 for the full set). Each bottle is numbered and signed by Sir Terence.
It must be said, hefting a £400 bottle of gin did give me a slightly giddy feeling, as well as a slight burning unease at the nagging thought of dropping and breaking it.
Given that, underneath, this is a standard bottle of Gordon’s (I didn’t pick apart one of the coverings to see if there was a normal label underneath), you will be paying somewhere in the region of an additional £385 for a designer cover and an autograph, so this will probably only be a temptation for the most serious collector – although, not as extreme as the Bombay Sapphire Revelation.
However, if you are hankering for some Gordon’s gin with a designer label but cannot afford splashing-out £400, these designs will be available on (much less) limited editions of the usual Gordon’s paper label, priced at £14.99, from the normal retail outlets.
The idea of coupling Gordon’s with the much-beloved Ten Green Bottles song is a great one – tradition marrying tradition. For fans of British design talent, the prints and the Conran name will be a draw and if nothing else, it is all a fun bit of publicity for an otherwise iconic and ubiquitous gin brand.
The atmosphere of the event was great. The green-lit vault, the people, the chatter and the free-flowing drinks (even the pipes and air-con ducts snaking around the ceiling) all contrived to make it feel like something you see in the movies, in some exclusive, glamorous, underground party venue.
As a complete tangent, there were small samples of juniper and coriander on one of the bars at the venue and, in a flash of slightly drunken genius, I garnished an otherwise straight G&T with a few crushed berries and seeds. While I had to constantly spit bits of grit back into the glass, this made for a heavily flavour-fortified G&T. Maybe worth experimenting with a bouquet garni as a garnish, instead of the usual lime.