Edinburgh Gin's Night of Literature and Liquor

Much what it says on the tin, Edinburgh's Gin Night of Literature and Liquor waltzes you through the history of gin distilling and the drink's use and abuse by the literary world's most notorious boozers. Add to this an enticing roster of finely-made cocktails – darting between lemon peels, syrups, ground ivy, and seaweed – and this gin night is onto a winner.

Even if gin isn't already your thing, this should be able to convince you of its virtues.

Detailing the drinking habits of Ernest Hemingway, Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, Sir Walter Scott, and Ian Fleming, to name but a few, the evening pays homage to booze and books in equal measure. The event itself takes the form of a talk or presentation by Ewan Angus, tour guide for the Edinburgh Gin Distillery. Sharply dressed in his blazer, skinny jeans, obscure geek-culture badges and a teacup in a holster, he proves to be correspondingly charismatic and engaging, easily sparking a crowd's interest. The talk is lightly informative, breezing through prohibition, literary depictions of alcohol, questionable writing routines, and passed-out Victorian children. It never pushes your mental faculties too hard, coming across like small talk at a T.E.D. talk after-party, with enough humour and whimsy that it never feels too educational.

The setting does much to set the atmosphere, the 'gin museum' bedecked with copper piping, wooden panelling, and a muted steampunk aesthetic. Running to ninety minutes, this event is really only the start to an evening, though the alcohol content will be more than enough to tide you over the following few hours. On the day of review, some attendees could only go as far as the second navy-strength cocktail before they admitted their limits. Entwining four distinct concoctions with the narrative, ending on a neat spin on James Bond's classic martini, this is nonetheless not a rowdy booze-up. Conversation with your own friends will be minimal and will only suit those happy with being quietly attentive – or quietly drunk.

That said, the Gin Distillery offers some of the best gin cocktails around, not all commercially available, while giving a fresh and unpretentious insight into the spirit's legacy. Even if gin isn't already your thing, this should be able to convince you of its virtues.

Reviews by Henry St Leger

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The Blurb

Join us for a night centred around booze and books, as we take a look at alcohol as both the protagonist and antagonist in over 150 years of fiction, coupled with wonderful cocktails and weird concoctions.