If you have seen me in the last week I will have told you the story of Baileys. More specifically I would have run up to you like an overexcited Pomeranian and forced you to sit as I regaled you with the tale of the Irish cream. This amazing story of tax, Soho and cream has captured my imagination like no other.

It all started when I decided to crack the Baileys out of the cupboard and toast the impending Christmas season. Yes the Baileys was three years old, and yes drinking Baileys by yourself on a Tuesday night might be considered sad, but…actually I don’t have a but here, it is both sad and questionable behaviour. Feel free to stage an intervention any time now. I happened to look at the bottle after a couple of sips and noticed that the ingredients were ‘whiskey and cream’. It really shocked me, I’m not sure what I thought Baileys was made of, but whiskey and cream were not it. I did what any millennial in winter does, I took to Instagram Stories to broadcast my amazement and ask if it could possibly be true. (Side note, to experience such ground-breaking revelations in real time you can follow me here: @therunawaykiwi ).

What I got back was a resounding confirmation, yes Baileys was just whiskey and cream. However the answers started me down a rabbit hole of the origins of Baileys. And boy oh boy it’s a good one. In the late 60’s there was a company that was looking for products that could be exported from Ireland because there was a great tax break in the offing. Two guys in Soho (yes, the London Soho) thought they would have a crack at it. They went down to the corner store and grabbed the products that could be vaguely considered Irish and mixed them together. It tasted questionable at best, so they added sugar and Baileys was born. Not exactly the traditional Irish creation I pictured. As for the name, even that was a uniquely London affair, they named it after Baileys Bistro the restaurant that was underneath their office.

All of which brought me to this blog post. I never thought product creation was so simple, and if two guys in Soho can make their millions from a cream concoction then surely I can do the same. Time for the experiment, if successful I might be onto a multi-million dollar idea, if un-successful then I would be full of curdled cream and various spirits on a Tuesday night…seriously that intervention is welcomed any day now.

Chambord and Cream

Hypothesis: Strawberries and cream is a common combination right? So raspberries (that’s what Chambord is???) and cream must be palatable at the very least.

Result: This is a solid 8/10 winner. It was one of only two that I finished off and didn’t spit take over my carpet. It is super sweet and would taste great over ice cream or for that matter as ice cream – can someone with an ice cream maker please create this for me? For some reason it tastes quite floral, which is going to be excellent when it comes to logo design (I’m thinking getting hipsters tattooed with flowers as part of the launch event). I did write in my notes that “kids would love it”, but given the alcohol content that might not be the best idea. Only an 8/10 because turns out small shots of cream are inherently gross.

Mulled Wine and Cream

Hypothesis: This could be the Christmas hit for 2018, it would be the best parts of Christmas in a single sip. I’m hoping for a rich spicy flavour that will allow you to be buzzed all day.

Result: Oh god 1/10. Mulled wine and cream might be the work of the devil, it tastes curdled even as you’re drinking it. It’s like a child has accidentally dropped an open bottle of mulled wine in the bath and then you had to drink it (PSA: Don’t give children mulled wine in the bath, or any wine for that matter). If you want to get a taste for this horror just add some balsamic vinegar and a cinnamon stick to your morning cup of tea and try not to vomit. In some weird quirk of science, the mulled flavour is completely missing in the shot.

Malibu and Cream

Hypothesis: Coconut is the 2017 opiate of the masses, and apparently you can put it on or in anything and it makes it instantly healthy. I’m sure this one is going to be drinkable at least.

Result: Another 8/10! This is delicious if you like fake coconut flavour in your dessert. It does taste a little like you are drinking a suntan lotion but I can see how this would completely work with a pineapple based dessert. Although as I learned from a close friend, if you had questionable experiences in a club in the early 2000’s then avoid this at all costs, this is your Malibu trigger warning.

Hendrick’s and Cream

Hypothesis: Of all the gins in my collection (its getting rather extensive, I must do a post on it soon) I chose Hendrick’s because I thought the mellow rose and cucumber flavours would complement the cream perfectly, like a fancy panna cotta.

Result: This must never be repeated 1/10. Turns out when you mix cream and alcohol together it enhances the strength of the alcohol flavour, in this case it means all you can taste is pretty much straight vodka (yes I know it is gin, but this combination did weird things to me and all I got was vodka). You do get a token aftertaste of either rose or your grandmother’s perfume, but mostly it just tastes like you are licking an aggressive seal who is Instagram famous. Of all the experiments this is the one that I could still taste years later prickling my tongue, haunting not only me but future generations.

Rum and Cream

Hypothesis: I mean, Waitrose sells Brandy Cream at Christmas, and this is pretty much the same thing right (look I know about gin ok, but the amber spirits go over my head). Regardless there is a lot of rum in desserts so this must be ok.

Result: Not too shabby 6/10. If you like pudding but get weird over carbs then this shot cuts right to the good bits. Highly recommended, quite smoky with hints of caramel, it almost tastes like a pirate you know on Facebook got stuck in a dairy while looking for loot and you ‘liked’ his ironic post about it. I might be quite drunk now.

Sloe gin and Cream

Hypothesis: Sloe gin has the berry rich flavours that worked so well with the Chambord, so this could be the gin redemption tour as part of this experiment.

Result: Gin is going to be banned from all future experiments 1/10. I would say this is the worst, but we were all there for the Hendrick’s rumble. Thankfully it pretty much curdled as soon as the sloe looked at the cream so you don’t have to worry about your stomach doing any of the work. Just like the normal gin the alcohol flavour of this is hugely enhanced which means you get rid of all the richness of the sloe and are left with the devils saliva. Not a fan.

Final comments

Well…I’m now drunk and full of cream. My dreams of being the next Baileys millionaire is literally circling the drain. If I have learned anything from today (and from most of 2017 to be honest) it’s that we should not try to emulate the ideas of the late 60’s. I’m going to have a sleep now.

Peter Pan street art in East London

My list of blog posts that I need to write has now topped 100. This stupidly high number isn’t because I don’t post enough (who the fuck thought I would still be slogging it out two times a week 672 posts later) but rather because I drink too much coffee and get overexcited. In caffeine driven seconds of inspiration I scribble notes into my phone which totally make sense at the time – but if I am ever arrested they will look a little ‘beautiful mind’. Anyway, because I am a semi-functioning millennial I of course am going to procrastinate on my list of posts that I should be writing and instead give you 18 reasons I have rewarded myself recently.

Adulting is tough. Seriously if there is a god he is playing a fairly fucked up game of SIMS (this morning I got stuck in a dress and while panicking in the armhole I walked into a wall). And to make matters worse, star charts apparently stop when you reach double digits. So in lieu of parent/teacher awarded stickers I have created my own reward and recognition scheme, where the reward is almost always gin.

Because you might be mildly interested (and after making it this far in the post so you deserve some pay off) here are 18 reasons I have rewarded myself for adulting. Aka 18 reasons I drank gin recently.

  1. I didn’t punch someone who was acting like a twatwaffle
  2. The place I picked to stand on the tube carriage was exactly where the doors opened AND was the only carriage with seats
  3. I actually ate my five a day two days in a row
  4. I remembered my online banking password before it locked me out for trying too many times
  5. I managed to make something resembling a cake from only three ingredients
  6. I recognised that I needed some chill time before I had a meltdown
  7. I told my flatmate I was moving out in a totally relaxed and positive manner while inwardly screaming from the awkwardness
  8. I said excuse me to a pigeon (being polite is important)
  9. I got ready in 45 minutes including a full manicure
  10. I was congratulated on my chopstick usage while in Shanghai (those 90’s hairstyles really paid off)
  11. I remembered that Sweden and Switzerland are different countries before I said something stupid
  12. I didn’t buy novelty camembert themed dinner plates for my new flat
  13. I caught the email where I had written ‘Kind retards’ instead of ‘Kind regards’ before I sent it
  14. I read two books, topping last years high score of one book
  15. I didn’t freak out when I rolled over in bed and thought a loose curl that landed on my face was actually a spider
  16. I ate an entire packet of cookies in one sitting
  17. I finally figured out how to do liquid eyeliner
  18. I remembered to text my parents and tell them how much I loved them

Bombay Sapphire Gin home

If I am famous for anything in my friendship group it is for never leaving Zone 1. I know I know, there is a big wide world out there and London isn’t the center of the universe. In my defence I could live a thousand lifetimes within the confines of Zone 1 and still not see everything; and Zone 1 means I get to walk everywhere (aka not having to join a gym and saving money on transport) and there is a lot of gin. But every so often my friends coax me out of my literal comfort zone.

I always know I am going to end up on a train to somewhere when my friends just start listing benefits of an adventure without mentioning location…because five minutes later (after I have agreed) they will inevitably announce that this adventure is outside central London. And so based on the promise of getting my gumboots muddy, a pub lunch and seeing where gin was made I found myself on a train to Hampshire.

After my friend Alana picked me up from the train station we headed straight for a WALK in a FIELD. As Alana was joking about Londoners and their pristine gumboots I shamefacedly got my £5 leopard print gumboots out of my bag. So far these gumboots had only been used to avoid getting electrocuted in my old flat when I was playing with the fuse box at midnight after a power outage – this walking in the field malarkey was going to be a shock to them.

A random field in Hampshire

We set off walking along some stranger’s field, apparently you can do that in the UK – Google will tell you where there is a public right of way in a field and you can just march on in. Within about five minutes I had seen a duck, a squirrel and a rabbit – and I didn’t even have to pay £5 like you do in the city farms in London. I then found a horse…A HORSE. Well actually two horses, one was up and talking to us (he gracefully ignored my questionable taste in gumboot) and the other was having a sleep in the field. Top tip: if you come across a sleeping horse don’t whatever you do post a picture on Instagram and pretend its actually a dead horse – people take dead horses very seriously and you will feel like a horrible person.

Then it was time for the GIN. At this point I should say that we were given the tour for free for the purpose of a review, but lets be honest its kind of like asking a three year old for a review of a birthday party where there was a bouncy castle – it was only ever going to be positive.

Just how much I loved the Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery really shocked me. I mean, I expected to like it because, duh, gin cocktails were a part of the tour. But this place really works as a tourist destination. Based in a converted paper mill the distillery makes all the Bombay Sapphire, ALL of it. Whenever you buy a bottle duty free or pick one up at an off licence in Auckland because you forgot a housewarming present (I would totally never do that), it all originated in this little old re-purposed paper factory in Hampshire.

The architecture is the draw-card for the non-gin obsessed. It looks like glass has exploded from the side of the smaller distillery building and cooled as it entered the river, the excess heat from the distilling process is used to heat the greenhouses contained within. After a seeming lifetime of London gin drowning, it was so weird to find such a calm haven at the heart of it all. Chilling by the river with the smell of gin in the air is my happy place.

On the tour itself (no photos because of the risk of explosions…making gin is a serious business) we had the chance to taste the 86% proof gin straight from the still. Like, baby-fresh gin that was minutes old. Strong enough to be used as hand sanitiser, this gin is the real deal and I would loved to have taken a little with me to use as ‘rescue remedy’ though out the work day.

The Grape Gatsby gin cocktail

At the end of the experience is a bar, and I sat there like a numpty trying to choose between all of the cocktails on the menu (one is included as part of the tour). After five agonising minutes Alana just looked at me and as if she were Athena herself said “if you can’t decide just have both”. God I love her. So that is what I did, I sat in the afternoon sunshine and drank my way through the Bombay Sapphire cocktail menu trying both the Grape Gatsby (muddled grapes, lemon and thyme) and the Watermark Martini (earl grey tea, apple juice and vermouth). I mean I always love learning more about gin, and of course drinking gin, but to have this zen vibe while doing it? Magic.

Gin and dead horses was totally worth leaving Zone 1 for. I came back on the training feeling like I had had a week long holiday in the country; relaxed, rejuvenated and happy. Although, that might have been the gin talking.

Blog Addicts Anonymous

I’m Rebecca, and I’m a blog addict.

I’m guilty of stalking cool kids off the internet and bribing them with coffee, gin or blackmail until they agree to be my friend.

I’m guilty of holding the phrase ‘I’m a blogger’ close to my heart, because it makes me so happy and tingle with pride.

I’m guilty of ordering something I don’t feel like at brunch just because it will look better on Instagram,

I’m guilty of feeling guilty when I don’t post regularly.

I’m guilty of using my blog as a therapy session; screaming at the internet sure does help to process emotions.

I’m guilty of threatening to murder people when they are mean to my blogging friends (or non-blogging friends to be honest).

I’m guilty of using gin to overcome the tyranny of the blank page.

I’m guilty of going to countless SEO talks and still not have a fucking clue about it.

I’m guilty of crying over the beautiful comments people leave.

I’m guilty of saying no to going out just because I have posts to write.

I’m guilty of loving this damn hobby way too much.

Kew Gardens Gin Bar

The funny thing about living in London is that in the same way that you crave Pineapple Lumps and Jaffas you also crave big expanses of green. Londoners seem to accept any little patch of grass, I can’t get over people sitting on what I would call a busy roundabout in New Zealand while they sunbathe and drink a pint. But I digress, this is all about the magical place that is Kew Gardens.

Kew Gardens flowers

To be honest as much as I wanted to visit Kew, in my head it was too much of a faff (in London terms, a faff is defined as an hour on the tube with two changes) to go. But then I heard about the pop-up gin bar that they had over the summer, dishing out botanical versions of my always favorite Gin & Tonic, and all of a sudden it became a must visit.

Kew Gardens Pond

Kew Gardens are huge. Fact.

The gardens have a bit of everything. Stretches of grass for picnics and games, green houses, manicured flowerbeds, a historic house, a Japanese pagoda and even a canopy walkway so you can see the tips of the trees. The Victorian green houses themselves are worth a visit; built in the late 1800’s there is a wrought iron staircase to let you see the trees from up above, and if that all gets too much you can go to the aquarium in the basement. There are also more modern glass houses where you can wander in a glass pyramid and see every form of spiky plant available.

Kew Gardens GNT

But onto the gin. As part of the Plantasia exhibition which is on till September, there are all sorts of things popping up at Kew. There is a barefoot walk so you can squidge in mud, a ‘Healing Giant’ flowerbed so you can see which plants help which body-parts, and a pop-up gin bar because gin is purely medicinal – I don’t have a drinking problem I am just increasingly health conscious.

The pop-up is located in a small green house and is run by the cool cats at No.3 Gin. There are a selection of botanical gin choices for you to imbibe, I went with the Summer Flowers which was jasmine infused gin, elder-flower cordial, lemon and orange blossom. It was completely refreshing and a brilliant edition to Kew Gardens…makes me think that all London’s gardens need a pop-up bar.

I think next time I go to Kew I am going to make a day of it. My visit would have been perfect if I had taken a picnic and a good book so I could have had a nap under one of those giant trees.