Rococo Chocolates, found quietly nestled in a little Marylebone street, is a chocolate and design lover’s haven, with shelves upon shelves of beautifully packaged bars wallpapering the tiny shop. The chocolatiers offer tasting evenings in which they inventively pair their produce with other local delicacies, with this particular evening being focused on Sipsmith Gin.
Tastings take place downstairs upon a long table lined with glasses which fills the room, not unlike what I imagine the setting of a secret gin society initiation would be like. Awaiting each person was an alluring array of exquisite chocolates. We chose seats at the front, nearest the gin.
The night involved five tastings of Sipsmith gins, from their light and Pimms-like Summer Cup to my personal highlight; the 57.7% V.J.O.P., which stands for Very Junipery (yes, that is a word) Over Proof. The bottles themselves are the type that you would be happy to have in your home; adorned with intricate labels which have a modern twist on traditional botanical plant drawings.
Each gin was accompanied by 2 chocolate samples which had been carefully matched to suit. And they were worth the wait – the passionfruit and rosemary caramel provoked a particularly ardent response from the table, it became clear why host Sam, our personal Willy Wonka, called it a 'rude noise chocolate'.
Our group of 20 or so people ranged from young couples right the way through to an 84 year old lady who looked frail as a feather but necked the 60% gin with not even a flicker of her eyelid.
I definitely felt I got my moneys worth – the night itself lasted over 3 hours. However, this was perhaps overly long. Whilst our two hosts clearly knew their stuff, listening to a 20 minute sermon between each sample was a little too much. In reality, I'm pretty sure most people were mainly there to get a bit drunk and eat some nice chocolate. That being said, I did learn a lot and of course met an 84 year old legend.