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Highclere Castle Meets Winston Churchill

A Toast to Sir Winston Churchill’s Timeless Connection

 My heart gladdens at seeing the frosted purple glass bottle of Highclere Castle Gin, and I’m sure my cocktail hero, Sir Winston Churchill, would have had the same reaction. While researching my newly released hardcover gift book, Churchill: A Drinking Life, Champagne, Cognac, and Cocktails, my co-author Roxanne Langer and I set out to learn what we could discover about what Churchill liked to drink and where, and with whom he enjoyed raising a glass. Very quickly, we knew that Churchill was a frequent guest at Highclere Castle, coming to hunt with the grandfather of the current Lord Carnarvon and ending a long hunt relaxing with a cocktail in his favorite chair at Highclere. Riding his mount through the familiar landscape, he would have breathed in some of the same aromatic essences that are used when distilling the gin, and he would have nodded in approval over the inclusion of the oats, as he was a dedicated racehorse owner later in life. 

Unveiling Churchill’s Drink of Choice

There is no disputing that Winston Churchill was fond of an adult beverage or two throughout his working day, but it is important to note that these were mere “throat moisteners,” very weak drinks that did not interfere with his remarkable leadership ability or his oratory talents. He once famously noted,” I’ve taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.” 

Everywhere we looked — whether combing through the diaries and memoirs of the many people who worked closely with him during the war or hunting up vintage magazine and newspaper articles — cocktails were on every page. Roxanne is a sommelier and was able to reach out to industry sources like the longtime London wine and spirits merchants Berry Brothers & Rudd and uncover fresh Churchill anecdotes. In all these years, no one else had ever asked … 

Churchill’s Legacy in Gin

When the world was closed to most travel during the pandemic, the ability to travel vicariously from California to England by watching Downton Abbey episodes over and over, reveling in the gorgeous interiors and lush grounds of Highclere Castle was a godsend. Can you imagine sitting down to research and write an entire book about the world-famous British Prime Minister from my desk in California? A well-deserved gin martini greeted me at the end of each writing day, helping me to get further into the Churchillian mood. 

It is interesting to note that, in some ways, Churchill’s storied family history is tied directly to the story of gin. His famed ancestor, John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, began his climb into the aristocracy due to his closeness to William III, known as the Gin King. A Dutch prince who became the King of England in 1689, one of his first official acts was to liberalize gin distillation rules. 

Ready for a cocktail yourself, are you? Here is a quick recipe snippet from the pages of Churchill: A Drinking Life, and remember to get your bottle of Highclere Castle Gin. 

The Gin & Tonic 

What could be more traditionally British than a gin and tonic? The origins of that quintessential drink go back to the days when one was advised to swill quinine to ward off malaria in places like India and Malaya. Quinine was soon added to the tonic, and gin was soon added to the tonic, and there you go. All strictly for medicinal purposes, of course. Churchill once said, “The gin and tonic has saved more Englishmen’s lives and minds than all the doctors in the Empire.” 

  • 1 ½ oz Highclere Castle Gin 
  • Artisanal tonic water 
  • Orange Peel and Rosemary 

Fill a glass with ice, add the gin, and top off with tonic water. Finally, garnish with orange peel and rosemary. What could be simpler? And all, of course, in the interest of keeping malaria at bay… 

It was indeed a pleasure to research and write this book. It was like having a cocktail with a side of history. Pair our book with that tall, frosted blue bottle of Highclere Castle Gin, and you’ve got the perfect gift for history buffs, cocktail fans, or maybe… just a treat for yourself. Churchill once told a young government minister who seemed reluctant to refill his glass, “Go ahead, have another; I won’t tell.” 

Ready to restock your Highclere Castle Gin? Buy online Today!