On bicycles branded with the name “The Travelling Gin Co.,” they can be seen cycling through the streets of London with two bottles of gin fastened to the front of their baskets, wearing aprons filled with bitters and bottle openers.
Touring the city with Beefeater Gin, Englishmen Ed Godden, 29, and Joe Lewis, 30 — founders of The Travelling Gin Co. — recently paid a visit to the Big Apple, biking through the streets of Manhattan with gin in their baskets ready for mixing.
The boozy cyclists began in 2011 what they call a “pop-up drinks project” based in London, serving gin and tonics and other gin-based cocktails from the baskets of their bicycles.
Godden and Lewis admit that the idea for the The Travelling Gin Co. began as a joke. During a bike ride in Holland with his friends, Lewis attached a liquor dispenser to the front of his bike for laughs, and the locals loved it — so much that they took photos and asked for drinks.
Funny enough, the Brits had no prior drink background other than casual drinking and mixing. Before they were The Travelling Gin Co., Godden and Lewis worked at Abbey Road Studios, where they often chatted over gin and tonics from the studio’s bar.
“We’ve always had a passion and interest in drinks and cocktails. So just from that, we experimented at home,” Lewis says.
With the initial mission to make the ultimate gin and tonic, the pair began the business by researching gins, tonics, garnishes, and other cocktail additions. Each month they feature a different gin in their concoctions, but they always have a house gin, like Beefeater, that is high-quality and can work in cocktails across seasons.
“We went through a stage of really perfecting the classics, but then from there, we’ve been developing,” Godden says. During the World Cup, they designed a drink for every nation. For England’s Bramble Royale they mixed lemon juice, sugar syrup, and blackberry liqueur, poured it over ice, topped it with a splash of sparkling wine, and garnished it with blackberries and a lemon slice.
They aren’t exactly serving cocktails on the sidewalk, though. “We wanted to be able to do that, but unfortunately it doesn’t go over so well in England,” Lewis jokes.
Riding from one venue to the next, The Travelling Gin Co. is hired for a number of different events, including showings, galleries, corporate events, festivals, weddings, and occasionally even street parties or events, for which they require a special permit to serve alcohol.
“When we’re serving from our relatively small bicycle bar, our menu is quite limited, so we always want to make sure that we’ve got really nice ingredients,” Godden says.
These bikes aren’t just for riding — their baskets are stocked with gin, cordials, syrups, garnishes, decorative straws, buckets of ice, and other supplies for making cocktails.
“One of the things we’ve been very keen on doing is keeping it mainly about the bikes as opposed to having a big bar and having the bikes as just kind of a prop,” Lewis says. One bike operates as the main serving station, while the other carries gin, tonic, and soda waters.
The duo is looking to expand their business with more bikes and mixologists around England and eventually other countries as well. They say they’ll be opening in Denmark very soon.
What about in the United States? Godden says, “Well we’ve only been here for a day, but we’re very keen.”