Five of the best bespoke drinks experiences

From tailormade spirits to the ultimate cup of tea, finding the perfect “signature drink” could mean blending your own

The Cambridge Distillery’s Gin Laboratory – a “science museum for gin lovers” – offers in-depth tastings, distillation masterclasses and a shop where you can blend your own gin
The Cambridge Distillery’s Gin Laboratory – a “science museum for gin lovers” – offers in-depth tastings, distillation masterclasses and a shop where you can blend your own gin

GIN Imagine, for a moment, sipping a gin that didn’t just smell like a garden, but smelled and tasted like your garden. Well, such a thing is now possible thanks to The Cambridge Distillery, a micro-distillery that specialises in tailormade gins. For a fee of around £5,000, distiller William Lowe will plunder your garden for flowers, herbs and barks to make a gin that tastes like home. The Cambridge Distillery HQ is in picturesque Grantchester, just a stone’s throw from the River Cam. It’s here, among the Meadows, that Lowe forages the hawthorn, lemon balm and stinging nettles for his twice-yearly seasonal gin. His latest project, though, is in a townhouse in the heart of Cambridge, not far from the college where Lowe’s father was a fellow: Corpus Christi. The Cambridge Gin Laboratory – described by Lowe as a “science museum for gin lovers” – offers in-depth tastings, distillation masterclasses and a shop where you can blend your own gin. “You could come in and create a gin for your dinner party that night,” he says. Tailormade gins from £400, The Cambridge Distillery, 20-22 High Street, Grantchester, Cambridge CB3 9NF (01223-751 146; cambridgedistillery.co.uk); Cambridge Gin Laboratory, 10 Green Street, Cambridge CB2 3JU (01223-751 146cambridgeginlab.co.uk). ALICE LASCELLES

In Harrods’ Roastery and Bake Hall, Angelo Tantillo creates teas to match customers’ palates
In Harrods’ Roastery and Bake Hall, Angelo Tantillo creates teas to match customers’ palates

TEA Among a nation of tea drinkers, it is curious that there have been few opportunities to create one’s own personalised high-end tea. Who better to change all that than “tea tailor” Angelo Tantillo – and where better than at Harrods, which originally opened in 1834 as a tea merchant? In the store’s Roastery and Bake Hall, Tantillo, an expert in layering flavours, quizzes customers as to their tastes and creates a tea to match their palate. Customers are encouraged to sniff their way through the process as he mixes all the components, from tea leaves to rose petals, in a large bowl, adding a flourish here and there until you are both happy. The final, personalised blend is deposited in an elegant tin and Tantillo keeps a record of the recipe in his little black book, so it’s there when you need to restock. £30 with tin and personalised label, 87-135 Brompton Road, London SW1 (020-7730 1234; harrods.com). BEATRICE AIDIN

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CHAMPAGNE Duval-Leroy’s initiative, Cuvée Sur-Mesure, allows champagne lovers to create their own cuvée during a hands-on programme at its vineyard and cellars in Vertus, in the Champagne-Ardenne region. A personal blend takes about two days to create, and includes lunch or dinner at the Duval-Leroy HQ. The experience begins with vineyard director Michel Oliveira, who illuminates wine lovers about the champagne terroirs and cultivation methods: conventional, organic or biodynamic. Then, there’s a rendezvous with Sandrine Logette-Jardin, head of cellars, to taste and tap into the secrets of winemaking, blending and dosage (the three main grapes include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, to which Arbanne, Petit Meslier and Pinot Blanc varieties can be added, according to taste). The nascent winemaker then decides between such elements as floral or toasted aromas, a creamy or spicy palate and the intensity of flavour. Delivery of the finished engraved bottles takes three months. Minimum order is 1,000 bottles, €40,000; Champagne Duval-Leroy, 69 Avenue de Bammental, 51130 Vertus, France (+333-2652 1075; duval-leroy.com). MARGARET KEMP

Duval-Leroy’s intricate personal champagne blends take about two days to create
Duval-Leroy’s intricate personal champagne blends take about two days to create

COCKTAILS If cocktails are your thing, then how about creating a signature drink under the guidance of one of the world’s best bartenders? At the Drink Factory in east London, where Tony Conigliaro conjures dazzlingly inventive cocktail lists for 69 Colebrooke Row, Zetter Townhouse and Bar Termini, budding mixologists can make an appointment to spend an afternoon in the flavour lab, devising distillates and compounding aromas to create a drink that’s completely unique. Whether it’s a cocktail that tastes like a walk in a forest, a distillate that smells like your lover’s perfume or an inventive twist on a classic, the result can then be bottled to take home or scaled up for a special event. Prices on request, Drink Factory, 8 Andrews Road, London E8 (020-7684 7192; thedrinkfactory.com). ALICE LASCELLES

At the Drink Factory in east London, budding mixologists can spend an afternoon in the flavour lab creating a cocktail that’s completely unique
At the Drink Factory in east London, budding mixologists can spend an afternoon in the flavour lab creating a cocktail that’s completely unique

MARTINI Following the opening of Barcelona’s Dry Martini bar at the Meliá White House in Regent’s Park, there’s now the opportunity to devise your perfect martini with the help of guru Javier de las Muelas. As well as exploring the bar’s extensive range of rare, vintage and limited edition gins under his guidance – and matching them with the perfect vermouth –martini fiends are let loose in the lab to create their own brand of the “droplets” Dry Martini uses to season its own martinis. After selecting the perfect glass and enjoying a drink at the bar, the exhausted mixologist can then collapse into bed in the hotel’s Presidential Suite for the night. Mixology workshops from £35 per person, Dry Martini, Meliá White House, Albany Street, London NW1 (020-7391 3000; drymartiniorg.com). ALICE LASCELLES

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