On Friday 20th October 2023, 163 Distillers and their guests, and 121 Gin Guild members and their guests, assembled at Mansion House for the annual Livery Banquet.
The Master and Mistress – the latter looking resplendent in her teal gown– took up position in front of their respective thrones, ready to greet the attendees on arrival. At 6.15pm precisely, our new Beadle, Jeremy Smith, began announcing the guests as they filed through into the Salon, and soon the reception was in full swing – with Henriot Brut champagne, Martini Vibrante and Bombay Sapphire Gin (and Tonics) flowing.
At 6.50pm, two buglers heralded the arrival of the Mayoral party, comprising: the Lord Mayor Nicholas Lyons and the Lady Mayoress, Felicity; our very own – and newly minted – Distiller, Aldermanic Sheriff Bronek Masajada and his wife, Jane; and the City Marshal, Philip Jordan. After an exchange of pleasantries, the Master and Mistress escorted the Lord Mayor and his entourage into the Drawing Room, whereupon the Beadle gavelled up for dinner and the guests made their way into the magnificent Egyptian Hall to take their places at table.
Following a succession of formal photographs taken by our excellent new photographer, Warren Page, the Beadle took command of the procession line and then led us – at a rather stately pace! – into the Hall, to the accompaniment of Handel’s Scipio performed by the London Banqueting Ensemble.
Following grace by the Honorary Chaplain, the Reverend Canon David Parrott – which included a predictable pun on the Master’s surname (!) – the feasting began. We were treated to a 4-course menu:
Game terrine of rabbit, venison and hare
Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Hauts Marconnets, Chanson 2018
Creedy Carver duck
Brunello di Montalcino Jacopus La Togata DOCG 14% 2016
Croxton Manor stilton, with fig in bacon &
Dark chocolate pave, seasonal berries and crème fraiche
Seifried Nelson Sweet Agnes Riesling 2019
The Beadle then announced the newly reintroduced Loving Cup ceremony, at which point the Master drank to the Lord Mayor and the Lady Mayoress in turn, before the gunners set their own cups in motion – all to the sound of the two pipers from the London & Scottish Pipes & Drums circling the room – until the cups on the sprigs had completed their clockwise revolutions and arrived back at their starting points.
The Master then toasted the two pipers and they each drank a small quaich of whisky, before firing up their pipes once again and marching out of the Hall – until the sound became an eerie echo…The Post Horn Gallop followed, with the two trumpeters performing their traditional “musical conversation” from opposing galleries – which progressively became more and more of a “joust”, until one finally signalled defeat by blowing the customary “raspberry”.
The three toasts followed – Royal (with our guests singing the first verse of the National Anthem lustily, and with great gusto), Loyal and Civic; the Lord Mayor replied; and the Master responded. Clearly, the Lord Mayor and the Master were also engaged in some sort of competition, as they both concluded their speeches with a different – and equally risqué! – “nun” joke, much to the hilarity of the assembled throng.
All in all, another magical evening at Mansion House and one which will live long in the memory.