“Stranger,
here you will do well to linger; here our highest good is pleasure”
Epicurus

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Menagerie

December 1, 2019

Broken Clock Vodka can now be procured at Gerry’s Wine and Spirits in London. This specialist drinks shop on Old Compton Street has been a highly revered institution for Soho bartenders since 1985.

The shop is an Aladdin‘s Cave of unusual alcoholic beverages where there is always something new to discover. They deliver all around the globe from the well stocked shelves and if you should pop in, Allen and the team will be at your disposal with a jovial wise crack and a rare or exotic bottle or two. DSC00808_19-11-22_Broken_Clock_Lingering_Vodka_Gerrys_Stories.jpg Indeed Old Compton Street has an exotic history in itself having been the unlikely location of one of Britain’s first menageries - a collection of captive animals and the precursors to modern zoos - in the early 1800s.

In 1804, Essex born George Wombwell was a Soho shoemaker. He was a squat, alcoholic man yet quite the entrepreneur and by chance he purchased two boa snakes at a bargain price from a ship from South America docked in London.

Displaying the snakes around local pubs and taverns he turned a good profit and in 1810 he founded the Wombwell's Travelling Menagerie on Old Compton Street and soon began to tour the fairs of Britain.

Wombwell acquired elephants, a gorilla, monkeys, hyena, six lions, zebras, three tigers and even a rhino which he described as “the real unicorn of scripture”. He even bred the animals and is credited with breeding the first lion in British captivity.

By 1839 his Menagerie totalled fifteen wagons, and was even accompanied by a brass band.

These days other than occasional bears in the neighbouring bars the wild beasts are now gone from Old Compton Street but the spirit of Wombwell certainly lives on at Gerry’s where there’s a host of untamed and extraordinary bottles - including Broken Clock Vodka - that are ready to escape from captivity and into your drinks cabinet or back bar.