Venture to the Old Bell Inn and Greater Manchester and you venture into history. What now houses the world’s largest commercial collection of gins as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records once housed royalty and famous villains alike.
The Old Bell is a converted coaching inn. From the mid-1600s through the mid-1880s, coaching inns played a crucial role in transport routes across Europe. It was where weary horse and carriage travelers would stop for the night and fresh stagecoach teams would replace their over-ridden colleagues. Revenue from beds was complemented by that generated from food and drink.
None other than Queen Victoria herself enjoyed the food and drink at the Old Bell. She passed through in 1835 on her way up to the York Festival with her entourage and mother, the Duchess of Kent. On the other end of the social spectrum, highwayman Dick Turpin rested his head at the Old Bell one last time on his way to the gallows of York in 1739.
Today, the Old Bell is not filled with royalty nor scoundrels but humble business folk, couples on romantic getaways and gin enthusiasts. To cater to the gin crowd, its Gin Emporium regularly changes the menu.
This month, the Old Bell is serving a version of a G&T with Greenhook Ginsmiths Gin as its base. The gin, made in Brooklyn, is fruity on the nose with hints of juniper, citrus and elderflower. If a customer doesn’t feel like the traditional G&T - which the Old Bell will accommodate with Fever Tree Tonic Water - it mixes Belvoir Fruit Farms’ Lime and Lemongrass Pressé with crushed juniper berries, a sprig of fresh lemon thyme and a lemon wedge. Sounds like a G&T fit for a Queen!