Inspiring Events: Hendrick’s Gin Bus

Summer in London comes with a bittersweet taste. On one hand it is the fun season that we spend about 10 months waiting for, there are a lot of exciting things going on, and the uncontainable joy of being able to go for a nice walk or sit outside without freezing, and possibly enjoying the sun (!). On the other hand… it’s never really hot or sunny for too long, the city feels somehow quieter, and you feel a bit stuck, dreaming of beaches and envying anyone who has managed to escape to hotter destinations. Your commute might be a bit less horrible than the rest of the year as public transport is slightly less crowded, but now comes with the added bonus of the unbearable heat: this country is not well equipped for temperatures above 20C, so, when summer (finally) comes, your tube ride turns into a sweaty steam room experience.

In such dramatic circumstances (plus the many recent train staff strikes, and the long wait for the start of the night tube, adding new reasons to our regular commuting rants), the new Hendrick’s experience wouldn’t fail to catch your attention. The Hendrick’s Ministry of Marginally Superior Transport offered for one week only an elegant alternative to Londoners’ commuting drama: a bus named HERBERT (“Hendrick’s Extraordinary Roving Bus for Exceptionally Refined Travel”), painted green and black to look like a cucumber, which toured around the city from the 21st to the 29th July. A £2.50 ticket included a 40 minute ride across central London, a gin and tonic, a gin cocktail, and a cucumber macaron. I was very lucky to get a ticket as soon as I found out about it, and I loved the experience.

Waterloo Bridge, 5:40pm. A wonderfully dressed crew welcomed us on board of the prettiest ever, Victorian themed, doubledecker bus. With so many pop up events and vintage parties in London, we can be a bit spoiled. This however, was perfectly done: it felt like stepping into a movie, every detail of the decor contributing to the experience, complete with entertainment by the crew, from funny sketches to limerick reading. From a designer’s point of view, it was very interesting to see how everything had been carefully curated to create a visual expression of the brand, carried across different platform. A strong color palette and style, from the the Hendrick’s  website, social media accounts and promo video to everything on the bus, that made the brand image recognizable…and our surroundings instagrammable.

We were greeted with cucumber gin & tonics – very refreshing! – and cucumber macarons on pretty porcelain plates, and given ‘passports’ and big fans to keep cool while riding across the city on a sunny summer evening. A great start to the weekend: after a few minutes on board (and a couple of sips of G&T) we all had left the mundane behind and started to feel like classy travellers on the Orient Express. Later, a deliciously fruity cocktail was served …in teapots – I loved this one so much that I later had to search the Hendrick’s website for the recipe and bookmark it to try recreating it in the future: it’s called the Hendrick’s Summer Punch, requires some ingredients I don’t normally have, and some prep time (chopping fruits..), so I’d save it for a time when you want to impress your guests. If you like making cocktails at home, head over to their ‘Treasury of Tipples’ page to discover some new recipes – you can filter by occasion, skill level, dryness and character…they are clearly serious about cocktail making!

And, if you are in Edinburgh, you can try to catch the gin bus there this week!

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