Gin-inspired luxury with Tanqueray No. TEN and the British Pullman:
A few years back I took my first trip on the British Pullman as part of the celebrations for the London Olympics. For those who have never seen the Pullman, it’s the sister train of the Orient Express, a glamorous train with luxuriously refurbished Pullman carriages dating back to the 1920s. This time we were seated in Ione, built in 1928 and originally a First Class kitchen car. With marquetry inlaid wood panelling, shiny brass luggage racks and coat hooks and stunning art déco lighting it’s a beautiful setting for a journey.
The partnership with Tanqueray has evolved through the heritage of the gin brand.
Charles Tanqueray himself was not only an entrepreneur and inventor but also a keen traveller. He travelled throughout the early 1800s, keeping a personal diary which is still part of the Tanqueray collection. He particularly enjoyed travelling by train to enjoy the views and always travelling in luxury.
What better partnership could there be than the Belmond British Pullman and Tanqueray?
We started the evening with a classic gin and tonic in the lounge, before boarding the train and making our way to the table. Crisp white table linen, fresh flowers and an elegant table lamp added to the ambience. It felt like a special occasion – everyone in black tie and glamorous evening dresses. The Spitfire Sisters were in full swing at the entrance and joined us on board, moving through the carriages to provide a little light entertainment as we dined.
On board, ushered to our seats by the immaculately dressed staff, we enjoyed a glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne to start, along with a selection of canapes. Delicious.
Our first course was butternut squash and liquorice soup with roasted butternut squash and a fried basil leaf. The pairing was called ‘allotment old fashioned’ – a parsnip infused Tanqueray No. TEN with anise syrup and orange bitters served with a roasted parsnip crisp.
The soup was velvety and rich with a hint of liquorice, offset nicely by the fried basil leaf. And the cocktail seemed lighter than a traditional old fashioned. I’d happily have eaten a bowlful of parsnip crisps too, though it’s just as well I didn’t since there was a lot more food to come.
Avocado and baby beetroot tian with gin and tonic salmon gravadlax was served with a beetroot dressing and a mizuna leaf salad. A fresh and light gin-inspired dish paired with a South African sauvignon blanc, 2016 Buitenverwachting Hussey’s Vlei, a well balanced minerally glass.
Next, lemon-marinated skate wing served with braised fennel, tomato and pepper salsa. Classic flavour pairings and some beautifully cooked fish. As I was last time, I was amazed by the food served onboard the Pullman. Although the train never travels fast, you can definitely tell that you are on the move and yet the kitchen serves up immaculately presented and perfectly cooked dishes from what I imagine must be very confined spaces.
Our pairing for this course and probably my favourite cocktail of the evening was called ‘The Golden Age’. A delicate mix of Tanqueray No. TEN, Cocchi Americano and red pepper shrub with lemon and celery bitters. Delicious and really rather pretty too.
Next, juniper-crusted Welsh lamb rump with dauphinoise potatoes served with curly kale, roasted cherry tomatoes and a port wine jus. The gin connection for this course came from the juniper, one of the key botanicals used in making gin. It’s often used as part of game cookery too and I was surprised that it wasn’t too strong for the lamb. But, it’s down to the skill of the chefs to ensure the perfect quantity and just add that hint of bitterness.
My plate of British Isles cheeses was very generous and I shouldn’t really have sat nibbling on so much. But, with a little homemade chutney, some water biscuits and a glass of 2003 Sauska Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos, it was far too tempting.
Particularly as at that point we were sitting watching some rather fine magic – all part of the entertainment on board the train.
We finished with coffee and petits fours, as the train pulled back into Victoria Station.
On board, we were accompanied by the Brand Ambassador for Tanqueray No. TEN, Tim Homewood, who created the cocktails we enjoyed and by Diageo Gins Historian Joanne McKerchar, who told us a little about the fine history of Tanqueray No. TEN. We were fascinated to learn that Tanqueray No. TEN had won so many awards at the World Spirits Competition that in 2003, the International Hall of Fame was created, with Tanqueray the only gin to receive the accolade.
Many thanks to Tanqueray No. TEN and Belmond British Pullman for a lovely event, which formed part of the Perfect Ten series. Tanqueray No. TEN are running a curated monthly series of events, if you are interested in finding out about the next event, it will be announced on 10magazine.com
The Belmond British Pullman is one in a family of beautifully restored heritage trains offering a range of luxurious special occasion journeys.