BY HOLLY O’MAHONY
Gin and tonic is known as a quintessentially British drink (despite the fact neither lead ingredient originates from the UK). It’s up there with country gardens, fish and chips, and stripping off at the first sight of sun when you think of the things we’re known for as a nation. The good news for local fans of the tipple is that Rivington, a bar and restaurant in Greenwich, has practically dedicated this summer to gin.
The Greenwich Weekender caught up with Andrei Oltean, General Manager at Rivington, to find out what’s going on.
“We have 215 gins behind our bar currently, and both our customers and those living locally know us as gin experts and gin enthusiasts,” says Andrei. Ahead of the summer, the team at Rivington transformed the bar’s terrace into a botanical gin garden. Those who drop in looking for a drink in the sun will find themselves sipping in a space shrouded by a canopy of hanging vines plants and flowers. Rivington also runs a summer weekday happy hour – gin o’clock – offering G&Ts for cheaper than usual between 5-7pm. Each month, a different gin is showcased. For August, it’s Cornish brand Tarquin’s London Dry Gin.
The main event in Rivington’s celebration of all things gin is its annual Gin Bop, which is set to return to the bar for the fifth year in a row on August 31. The ticketed event (£10 in advance including a complimentary cocktail) kicks off at 4pm and will include live performances from jazz sensation Marcello Balena Quintet and circus troupe Aircraft Circus, as well as bar games and, of course, plenty of gins to try.
“This year we have some amazing gin brands involved, including Bluecoat, Kyrö, Bathtub, Sipsmith and Tarquin’s,” says Andrei, adding that the event is starting earlier than usual in order to give visitors a few extra hours of gin tasting. It’s an opportunity for those who like gin but are not necessarily ‘in-the-know’ about the different brands to sample some of the biggest and best names on the market, as well as smaller, niche labels. “Each of our partners will create a special Gin Bop cocktail and serve their own twist on a G&T, so visitors can enjoy a variety of different gin-based drinks.”
According to Andrei, Rivington’s Gin Bop event has seen a real mix of new and returning visitors in the past. “A lot of our visitors are those who have attended in previous years and had a great time, but as gin has become more popular the last couple of years we’ve seen locals and Londoners from further afield attending.” A highlight, he says, is working with a range of different brands. “Every brand that gets involved brings something different, which is really exciting for us and our visitors,” he says.
So, if you’re planning on attending Gin Bop as a newbie, what should you order from the menu? “I’m pretty fond of the Buongiorno cocktail,” Andrei divulges. “It’s made with Beefeater Gin, Campari Bitters, Aperol and Drury Coffee-infused Cocchi Americano. It’s the perfect mix of sweet and tart flavours, and I think the combination of gin and Aperol is really interesting.”
Those in search of something to soak up their tipples with can look to Rivington’s meat or veggie burgers, which will be available for £8 on the night. Meanwhile if you’re after something lighter, there will also be a selection of three different tasting boards – a meat, fish and veggie option – on sale for £10.
They each sound tasty. The meat board includes parma ham, honey dew melon bruschetta, miniature Yorkshire puddings with roast beef and horseradish cream, and wild boar chipolatas with mint yoghurt. While over on the fish board you’ll find potted Morecambe Bay shrimps on toast, smoked salmon with crème fraiche bruschetta and prawn arancini. Vegetarians can look forward to a board featuring pear and blue cheese on toast, mozzarella with heirloom tomato and basil skewers and a sundried tomato, olive and caper bruschetta.
“Gin Bop is set to be a wonderful evening of gin drinking, game playing, dancing and good fun – just make sure to organise a lie in for the next day,” advises Andrei.
Gin Bop is on at Rivington, 178 Greenwich High Road, London, SE10 8NN, on August 31 from 4pm till late. Admission: £10 for early bird tickets which includes a complimentary cocktail (available now via the Rivington website), or £12.50 on the door. www.rivingtongreenwich.co.uk