My partner and I were lucky enough to secure a spot at the interestingly named “Moonshine Saloon” for a spot of illegal liquor smuggling, debauchery and to experience life as an outlaw in the Wild Wild West. The saloon is at a new East London location, set in the City of London (Houndsditch), a 5 minute walk away from Liverpool Street Station. Each time slot hosted approximately 30-40 smugglers and whilst queuing we were entertained by a swaggering chap who was ensuring that we had the ‘goods’ required to enter the premises… ‘moonshine’,(our chosen liquor). He was incredibly humorous and had the queue giggling away whilst he continued to swagger around – an apparent effect of all the moonshine he had probably been consuming!
We were all given costumes to wear – overalls and a cowboy hat – we were advised that we had to blend in, and with the clothing we were currently wearing, we were sticking out like a sore thumb – we certainly didn’t match the clothing styles of the Wild West era (1880’s)!
Once inside, we were part of the illicit moonshine smuggling gang headed up by Clyde Cassidy and this was not to be taken lightly. To clarify, Clyde Cassidy was the ‘King of the Moonshiners’, a wanted man for moonshine distilling and liquor smuggling, with a $1000 reward on his head! Clyde Cassidy requests that you bring a bottle of your finest liquor to see if you have the goods required to join the smuggling gang. You were advised to keep the operation hush hush as the Sheriff was in town and she could turn up at the saloon unannounced, so you had to be very careful of what you said around her, especially after she had already been tipped off about a potential moonshine distillery in the area!
When the Sheriff entered the saloon, we all went quiet as we didn’t want to give her the opportunity to suspect us even more. She called each table outside of the saloon and made us take photos so that she knew who she had questioned. She was asking us about whether we knew anything about the illicit smuggling business which we promptly denied!
We were given the opportunity to go into a secret passage behind a shelf to see the illegal distillery first hand with Clyde Cassidy and his brother showing us the ropes, we even got to sample a shot of the moonshine they were brewing there – not sure what it was we were drinking but it was a pretty tasty shot! We got to discussing how we brewed our own illegal liquor – some us brewed in baths whilst others adopted for stranger techniques. We then were able to negotiate with Mr Cassidy on how much of a cut he would take for selling on our liquor.
The actors continued to interact the whole evening, playing games, general chit chat and improvised scenes of fights, shoot outs etc. All were very entertaining and had the crowd booing, laughing and gasping.
My partner and I brought with us a bottle of Hendricks gin and a bottle of Woodford Reserve bourbon. We were sat on stools around a large barrel waiting for our drinks to arrive, anticipating what we would be given! The cocktail mixologist was great and very knowledgeable – we didn’t know what to expect until we started to drink the cocktails! The cocktails were strong double to triple measures with various mixtures (which the saloon supplied).
The 1st cocktails we were given were served in tall pretty etched glasses – the drink was light in colour (gin), with a pink hazy tinge, served with a twist of lemon. The mixture tasted like a rose liqueur. It was fresh, crisp and possessed a lovely floral element to the drink. The lemon twist gave the drink a slight acidic element, without overpowering it, which made it very refreshing. These were quickly devoured and we made our way onto our 2nd cocktails…
The 2nd cocktails were served in tall etched glasses with paper straws which was good to see, especially from an environmental perspective. The cocktail was a vibrant orange, served with chunky ice cubes and half of a passionfruit. We tasted the drink and immediately deciphered that this was bourbon! There was extra heat coming through, which amplified the bourbon to its best potential, which was a ginger liqueur. There was also an element of sourness which was probably a lime and the passionfruit puree cut through the sourness and the heat to perfection by giving the drink a moreish sweetness. This was probably my favourite drink!
The 3rd cocktails were served in a short glass, again with beautiful etching. This was a light cocktail (gin), which looked very simplistic and elegant. The cocktail was light green in colour with a vibrant green single mint leaf floating on top. Upon tasting the cocktail, the mix was with a melon liqueur, which paired with the mint leaf, gave it a very fresh taste and was easy to drink (perhaps a little bit too easy!).
The 4th and final cocktail (by this point, I was feeling the effects!), was served in a long glass, same as the 2nd cocktails, which was reddish to orange in colour, served with chunks of ice and a fresh strawberry peeping out from the top. This was another bourbon cocktail – the mixture unknown – but the cocktail was very fruity and moreish and cut through the sharp bourbon exquisitely.
All of the actors were incredibly talented, humorous, entertaining and quick witted. Clyde Cassidy and his brother were exceptional. I was a bit hesitant at first with joining in on the ‘act’, but once I had had a few cocktails, I was in full Wild West mode and even adopting the accent! The actors were incredibly good at interacting with every single table, playing games, making jokes etc. The end scene ended with a ‘bang’, which had all of the tables engaged, laughing and in shock. I laughed so much that evening that my jaw hurt. I would highly recommend this experience to couples, groups, hens, birthday parties. If you want to laugh your cowboy boots off then this the place to go, thanks y’all!
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