An intriguing new gin to try that has its roots in the 18th century
Like the original Mary-Le-Bone London Dry Gin, Orange and Geranium utilises the floral botanicals associated with the fashionable Pleasure Gardens of London which existed in the 18th century. A small-batch super-premium gin, it is handcrafted in a tiny pot still and features eight exceptional botanicals (sweet orange peel, geranium, juniper, coriander, lemon peel, cassia bark, angelica root and orris root). Presented in an elegantly shaped, amber-toned bottle Mary-Le-Bone Orange and Geranium Gin is a versatile base for a wide range of delicious cocktails, as well as an ice-cold G& T. Available from Sainsbury’s, £28, 50cl (currently on offer for £22 until 3rd September).
The inspiration behind the creation of Mary-Le-Bone Gin
Located on the former site of Marylebone Pleasure Gardens, The Pleasure Gardens Distilling Company is London’s most central spirits distillery, with a history dating back eight generations to 1762.
Thomas Greenall founded Greenalls in 1762 – at a time when London’s Marylebone Pleasure Gardens were in full swing. Then, in the 1830s, a Liverpudlian solicitor named John fell in love with Isabella, the daughter of Thomas. They married, and John began working for Greenalls. Turned out distilling was in his blood, as it has proved to be for his son, his grandson…all the way down through eight generations to Johnny Neill, who carries the family torch forward today.
On any given night in Georgian London – the London of Pepys, of Jane Austen, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and Dr. Johnson – a fête was afoot. To find it, all you needed do was make your way to the nearest pleasure garden.
One of the most famous of all was close by the Rose of Normandy Tavern on the east side of what is now Marylebone High Street. Called the Marylebone Pleasure Gardens, it was the place to see and be seen throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Rumour has it that Dick Turpin – highwayman, horse thief and folk hero – was no stranger to the gardens.
Here, classical music concerts and ballets were staged just steps away from boxing matches and cockfights. Just a silver sixpence would buy you access to fireworks shows, dances, burlesques and beautiful gardens. Georgian refinement mingled with notoriety, gambling and card sharping. Society’s upper echelons intersected with the lower orders in a way unthinkable in any other walk of life at the time. In this magical place, princes could – and did – happily rub shoulders with paupers.