Hendrick’s Orbium: entering the parallel universe
An alcoholic guided meditation, a ‘gin anointment’ and a flamboyantly dressed masked character – this was not your usual gin-tasting experience at Harvey Nichols.
Orbium is Hendrick’s new speciality gin that was launched last year in selected bars and will soon be available for retail purchase. We headed to Harvey Nichols for an exclusive tasting experience before the bottles are rolled out in store.
The concept of Orbium takes Hendrick’s gin and turns it on its head. It is distilled with the familiar flavours of quinine (found in tonic) and wormwood (found in Vermouth) but given an unsual twist with the introduction of Blue Lotus Blossom, an ancient botanical flavour that promises to give the gin a distinctly ‘round’ taste.
With the warning that Orbium is definitely not for everyone, we weren’t sure what to expect from the tasting experience.
Upon arrival we were greeted by ‘Dr Silas Fifi Templeton’, a larger-than-life masked character who promised to take us to a “parallel universe” and give us an experience that would “permeate the membrane”. Dr Templeton was an odd yet extremely attentive host, keeping guests entertained and immersed in the Orbium experience.
The Harvey Nichols bar had been utterly transformed and bright blue lighting made us feel as though we had stepped into a bottle of Orbium.
Beautiful glass skulls sat atop foliage that lined the bar and we found little surprises everywhere we looked, from a glass chest with a bottle of Orbium inside to cobwebs hanging from the lighting. A perfectly mystical set-up for Halloween, but very tastefully done.
We were welcomed with the first drink of the evening, aptly named ‘gateway to a parallel universe’ – Orbium mixed with Aperol, cloudy apple juice, lemon juice, sugar syrup and dusted with cinnamon. A somewhat gentle, sweet flavour to introduce us to the taste of Orbium.
While he mixed our drinks, the bartender told us more about the Blue Lotus Blossom that makes Orbium so distinctive. One of the earliest known botanical flavours, the Blue Lotus Blossom can be traced back to ancient Egypt, hence the ‘third eye’ which is the centre of the medicinal-looking blue bottle.
We followed our first drink with something more simple – Orbium and soda, garnished with cucumber slices. Hendrick’s promise that the bitter taste of quinine alleviates the need for tonic and although at first it is slightly overpowering, the taste begins to settle on the palette.
The Orbium Realm
Just as we were beginning to get used to the world of Orbium, Mr Templeton ushered us over to a cushioned corner of the room to enter the ‘Orbium Realm’, the most bizarre experience yet.
We were plonked onto a rug and ‘anointed’, pure Orbium spritzed over us and dabbed on our temples, before putting on an eye mask and headset. We were then handed an Orbium Martini, with the strict instructions not to take a sip until we were told to do so.
The experience can only be described as a sort of ‘guided meditation’ as the voice talked us through our first sip, which was delicious. For gin purists this was Orbium in its finest form, mixed with dry Vermouth, the bitter yet warming taste sat on the tongue long after we took the sip.
The whole experience was utterly bizarre yet brilliantly done. The daring advertising really does sum up the flavour of the drink – not for the fainted hearted, but for those who like a bitter taste to their gin, a wonderfully bold flavour.