My latest obsession revolves around gin – now I know you could say that’s nothing new, but more specifically the gin served from these guys, The Travelling Gin Company. It’s a mobile pop-up bicycle bar, how cool is that! Established by Ed Godden and Joe Lewis in 2011, the guys were inspired to launch their business after a cycling trip round Amsterdam. You’ll find classic G&T’s and cocktails served straight from bicycle baskets. Chin chin!
In a nutshell, tell us about the idea behind The Travelling Gin Co.?
It all stemmed from Joe taking a cycling trip to Amsterdam, on an old 1948 postman’s delivery bike (which we still use as our main serving wheels). Joe attached a spirit dispenser to the front of the bike and, on an evening stop-off, would grab a good bottle of gin too and provide his fellow cyclists with a G&T to finish off the day. They loved it, as did all the Dutch locals who crowded around to take photos!
We just thought we’d take the gin + bicycles concept a bit further, and tweaked a couple of bikes to make them more bar friendly. We would ask questions like, “What if we could use the basket for mixing drinks?” It was a great experiment, and one thing just led to another.
What’s been the best part of setting up the Travelling Gin Co.?
It would have to be all the amazing events we’ve catered for. We’ll never forget the journey to Berlin, during the early days of the TGC – we had a base at the Michelberger Hotel, which was brilliant. And definite highlight of this summer was L’Eroica Brittania in the Peak District. It’s a cycling festival, with a spirit of classic Italian adventure, so it was a perfect match for us.
One of our favourites every year is the Soho Food Feast – it’s a weekend stuffed with all the best restaurant offerings the city has to offer, and it’s for charity too. We do a lot of weddings now too – everyone is always in such good spirits and it makes it all the more enjoyable for us to serve. Many spring to mind – the best thing about the whole concept is that by bringing the bar to you, each event is so unique and memorable.
What’s your favourite cocktail?
Joe: Of the classics, Old Fashioned. Ed: Negroni.
You can make great alternatives to both of these two, by adding a hint of maple syrup to the Old Fashioned, or trying Blood Orange with the Negroni. We’ve just started a bespoke cocktail design service (and not just with gin), so our favourites seem to be changing on a monthly basis now, as we get inventing!
What are your favourite spots in London?
For cocktails, the best in town has to be 69 Colebrooke Row, in Islington. For good pubs, there’s the Carpenter’s Arms, Cheshire St, the Southampton Arms on Highgate road and the Jerusalem Tavern on Britton St.
For food we’re big fans of Pitt Cue, St John, and Ottolenghi deli. And Brunswick House in Vauxhall is a new favourite, now we’ve moved our base to south of the river.
What makes a place feel like home to you?
Home has to be somewhere close enough to the heart of the city but also with plenty of open space around. Home comforts are important, but it’s in our nature to be off exploring on our bikes. So we would have to say a place with good storage for bicycles, and plenty of cocktail paraphernalia!
Products! We’re working on several recipes, and have quite a few pop-ups going on for the rest of the year. But our main focus is definitely products, and we’re pretty excited about being able to launch our own TGC range by 2015.
And finally, of the two of you, which is the gin & which is the tonic?
100% Ed = gin, and Joe = tonic.