Gin Soc’s inaugural event of the year: One Night in Wonderland, promised obscure dazzlement in true Lewis Carroll fashion; sophisticated drinking of craft Gins; and students, in their multitudes, flamboyantly dressed, eagerly pouncing upon the opportunity for yet another classically refined St Andrean night. Unfortunately, it was a night that, while really rather good, ultimately failed to deliver on its raison d’être.
The venue was the prestigious 4-star Hotel Du Vin, a finely furnished hotel nestled on the outer rim of the coastal town with views overlooking the turbulent sea. For such an event, it was the ideal location to showcase Gin Soc’s partnership with the sublime Darnley’s craft gin: Handcrafted in Fife with a charming distillery outside of Kingsbarn, Gin Soc wished to present St Andrew’s students with a taste of the quality, home-grown produce local to the university. And for what it’s worth, it succeeded. Every attendee was provided with four tokens, each one corresponding to a particular craft gin, all delightfully paired with a plethora of tasteful tonics and playful garnishes. In addition to this was the provision of a complimentary Vodka ice luge, making what would already be a rambunctious night all the more glorious, further exuding that sense of spectacle the Gin Soc had so painstakingly gone to nurture. This, combined with the kaleidoscopic lighting – creating a Carrollian psychedelic aesthetic, and DJ sets by Mac and Albion concocted to create a night that could not go far wrong.
Nonetheless, this year’s new committee were loath to depart from the tried-and-tested model of last year’s, which meant students experienced an event that was ultimately unambitious – failing to deliver on the ecstasy, anticipation and excitement of the last year. Indeed, this year’s Gin Soc’s raison d’être was to showcase what Darnley’s had to offer as a home-grown, yet superbly bespoke distillery, and while they managed to some extent, chiefly with their interesting token system, it ultimately felt as though students were simply hurried through four cramped stalls, where a nondescript liquid was served, and toward the dance floor to be greeted by two satisfying, but rather confused DJ sets. I say confused, as at one moment we were supplied with Drum and Bass, the next, House, and then an assorted variety of cheesy numbers from the noughties, which, as one might imagine, felt a little jarring.
Despite this, Gin Soc was an enjoyable event that invited fun and good times, and there was no shortage of attendees eagerly indulging in the supremely pleasurable decadence of the night. The pricing was also quite reasonable, given that it was just £35 for four bespoke drinks, a rousing venue and night of festivities. Moreover, it would not be fair to overlook the difficulties this year’s committee has had to deal with, and as such I have only respect for what has been achieved by them.
To that end, I am extremely excited for their upcoming events, in which I am certain they will go above and beyond in delivering more splendid nights for students to enjoy in St Andrews.