The gin pours freely aboard this voyage into the unusual
A steady crowd of women in cocktail dresses and men in suspenders, vests and suits stood outside the Carondelet House on Tuesday night for the first of the two-night series “Hendrick’s Voyages Into The Unusual” -- a yearly event held by the gin brand in cities around the country.
Tuesday was the first time Hendrick’s brought the experience to L.A.
People chatted excitedly, wondering what adventures lay waiting for them inside. “I heard there are circus performers,” said one woman dressed in a black lace mini. “I wonder if it’s going to be like a haunted house,” replied her friend, who wore a flapper-like headdress.
Once inside the doorway, it was like taking a step back in time and into a lavish house where the decor evoked New Orleans. Under high ceilings, bartenders stood behind a large half-moon-shape bar mixing cocktails in a room furnished with dark plush leather couches.
In the opposite room, a woman appeared to stand 20-feet tall and wore a dress so elaborate it appeared to host a tea party underneath. Performers entered and exited from beneath the dress, holding tea cups and mumbling to themselves like a scene out of “Alice in Wonderland.”
The night’s many cocktail offerings included a “Family Tree” made with fresh watermelon and lemon, simple syrup, basil, Montelobos, soda and a lemon wheel; “Night of the Iguana” with celery and cucumber juice, fresh lemon, simple syrup, cucumber wheels, ground sea salt and cubeb berries; “Hendrick’s and tonic”; “Cucumber Blood” with lemon-verbena-infused Hendrick’s, cucumber and lemon juice, simple syrup and green chartreuse; and “Traveler’s Testament” with rooibos tea, lime juice, raspberry syrup, toasted coconut flakes and soda.
A living wall of curiosities separated the front and back of the house. In it, a headless man emerged and handed out flowers. Beside him, a drawer popped open and delivered surprise trinkets to gasping guests.
A further walk revealed a dancing rose that sprouted out of an oversized flowerpot and handed guests vials of the Cucumber Blood cocktail.
In the back room, the band White Ghost Shivers played while cocktails were served out of a mystery wooden box. A botanist was also on hand to elaborate on the eleven botanicals found in Hendrick’s gin.
The band played on throughout the evening and the cocktails went down in a blur. Night two of the series is going on tonight, but if you want to see the curious world of Hendrick’s for yourself, unfortunately you’ll have to wait until next year. The list is now full.
Carondelet House, 627 S. Carondelet St, Los Angeles, www.hendricksgin.com/voyages-pr
Eat your way across L.A.
Get our weekly Tasting Notes newsletter for reviews, news and more from critics Bill Addison and Patricia Escárcega.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.