As I approach the Hendrick’s Gin 13th Day of Christmas window at Jeroboams in Belgravia, the rain starts to fall. It’s most appropriate, this being the gin brand that has claimed the umbrella as one of its motifs. Only last month, I found myself marching the pavements of Glasgow among gin lovers and journalists on the way to a dinner at The Drake hosted by Hendrick’s, each one of us holding one of the magnificent green umbrellas. But here in Belgravia, on my way for the grand unveiling of this window of curiosities specially designed and installed for Christmas, it’s colder, darker, and I’m hurrying towards Elizabeth Street under my own grey brolly, thinking only of the hot gin punch awaiting me in a teacup at Jeroboams.
I join the huddle inspecting the window of the wine shop. And the window is every bit as bonkers as I had hoped it would be. Designed and built by craftspeople including painter Matthew Killick, surrealist performer and painter Natty Bo and puppetmakers the Little Theatre of Dolls, it’s an utterly Hendrick’s-ian interpretation of the classic carol ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’. Twelve wild haggis drumming (with upturned mini Hendrick’s bottles acting as bongos) sit atop three giant snails pretending to be French hens, while a partridge occupies a cucumber plant in the centre. It’s a surreal dreamscape reflecting the jaded bewilderment on the 13th day of Christmas; the mind ponders the peculiar gifts given for the past 12 days, distorting them into yet more peculiar variants, and wonders what the true love might give you next…
Larry and Steve are due to join me to inspect the window, but naturally I don’t wait for them before tucking into some hot gin punch. Inside Jeroboams, among beds of bottles, Duncan McRae, the UK brand ambassador, is ladling punch into china teacups. “Come in, come in, you must be cold,” he says, warm and jovial as ever. “Have some punch. Ginger biscuit?” While I sip this monstrously moreish drink, I hear all about another: the special 13th Day of Christmas cocktail created by Marian Beke from the award-winning bar Nightjar.
So, as I carry my punch outside the shop to join the chaps who have just arrived, and we continue to explore the window – this is not something just to look at; each item demands a conversation – I’ll leave you with the recipe for The 13th Day of Christmas.
• 40ml Hendrick’s Gin
• 40ml Christmas Wine Mix (ratafia, byrrh, sweet vermouth, white port, amontillado sherry)
• Three dashes roasted cocoa and Mauritia pine nuts bitters
• One bar spoon Italian marzipan paste
• Two whole quail eggs
• Combine all ingredients in shaker over ice.
• Shake extremely hard and strain ingredients into a glass that has been dusted with luwak powder and chocolate.
• An edible chocolate spoon.
The 13th Day of Christmas window is on display this week at Jeroboams, 50-52 Elizabeth Street, London, SW1W 9PB, and will then be transported to Peckham’s, 155-159 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh, EH10 4DG, on display there from December 5th.