We sat down for a G-Interview with The Gin Whore aka Kate O'Neil, to talk about her one-woman stage show and celebration of everything gin
Hello Gin Whore, or is there another name we should use instead?
Hello! Gin Whore is just fine, or Kate...
What is the secret origin of The Gin Whore?
I studied calligraphy and heraldic art (pretty much studied to be a modern day monk) but there weren’t enough cocktails involved, so in 2002 I started a mobile cocktail bar service - before there were hundreds! Soon we were catering for the Rolling Stones, for parties at Downing Street, and thousands of corporate events. We began running tasting events for team building nights, eventually training 45,000 guests at events. I was booked to talk at an event in Scotland, & met Brooke Magnanti, AKA Belle de Jour - who has experimented with making her own gin. I began researching the links between gin and prostitution before launching a one-woman show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
The range of flavours brought through different botanicals means there are so many different nuances to discover. The boom in gin and craft distilleries makes visiting local producers great fun.
So, can you tell us more about what we can expect at your shows?
Four tasters of gin as we travel through history from the origins of juniper spirits through to the modern day gin renaissance. This is paired with a few naughty stories about the fallen women who imbibed gin along the way!
What has the reaction been like so far?
I had my first review from Broadway Baby at the fringe, who generously gave me 5 stars! You can read the review here.
What's one of your favourite stories from gin's past?
Well, I wouldn't say favourite as most of the stories are pretty grim. The Progress of a Woman of Pleasure sums up the descent into prostitution and debauchery perfectly. After moving to London to seek a husband and income, and upon being turned down by her hairdresser’s hand in marriage, our lady works her way up to gin from wine and brandy. Eventually selling herself to feed her habit. You can see it doesn't end well.
Why do you think gin has become so fashionable recently?
It all stemmed from a change in the law. Gin acts put in place in the 1700s to stop the damaging 'Gin Craze' were only repealed recently, allowing for small batch distilling. Thus meaning it was cheaper to set up distilleries and experiment with new gins.
How has gin changed over the years?
Lots! Derived from Juniper Spirit 'Genever’ which has a malt wine base, the London Dry Style came about when the local crop of grain was used instead of malt giving a cleaner crisper taste. Other historical varieties such as Old Tom (usually sweetened but sometimes barrel aged) are being revived or infused gins like Pinkster breaking new ground.
What do you think is next for gin?
Tonic. More inventive, flavoured tonics, like Peter Spanton Drinks amazing range, alongside creative garnishes becoming the standard expected by guests.
As for gin itself, I do have an idea… But as I am launching my own gin you'll just have to wait and see. It’s going to be VERY different!
Do you have a favourite gin?
I always say choosing a favourite gin would be like choosing between my children, which is probably why I don't have any (children that is). It depends on my mood, the weather, the time of day and how I am drinking it. I will admit to enjoying Broker's Export Strength, The Cutlass by West Winds Gin, Hop Gin by Eden Mill, and Tanqueray is my go to classic gin.
Favourite gin cocktail?
Sorry to be a bore - but it has to be the Dry Martini, simple and elegant.
In your opinion, how should a martini be made?
By Ago, in the Connaught Bar from their famous martini trolley. With a choice of housemade bitters, their own blend of vermouths and as Ago would say, "Straight up with style, don't forget the smile."
What’s the best thing about what you do?
Hospitality: entertaining and educating people is a great privilege.
Have you been to a Gin Festival? What did you think?
Yes, super fun and a very sociable way to discover new gins. Trying unusual gins without committing to buying the whole bottle makes it easy to expand your horizons.
Where can we see you next?
There's a list of tour shows on my website here - the next 'big’ show is at the Glasgow Comedy Festival.
Fancy seeing The Gin Whore show? We've partnered with The Gin Whore to offer one lucky person the chance to win tickets to both Gin Festival London and The Gin Whore Tour. to enter, click here and complete form.
Competition ends 23/11/2016
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