A ‘Downton Abbey’ evening

It was a night worthy of a modern “Downton Abbey” – an opportunity to meet the eighth Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, whose Highclere Castle served as Downton in the series phenom – at a cocktail party this past Wednesday at Manhattan’s Soho Grand Hotel. Lord and Lady Carnarvon couldn’t have been more gracious as they talked about the romance of Highclere for our February cover.

But the party was also a chance to sample Highclere Castle Cigars, super-premium rare cigars that use Connecticut Shade wrappers and are made by Foundation Cigars in Windsor, Connecticut. While we passed on those, we just had to try the Highclere Castle Gin ahead of its March 2019 release. We’re pleased to report that it had none of the stinging quality of some gins but rather was smooth, creamy even, and slightly sweet, made as it is with botanicals from the 5,000-acre estate.

In a clubby green room not unlike an English drawing room, filled with photos of great male movie stars like Peter O’Toole and Sean Connery, guests – who included Harper’s Bazaar executive fashion and beauty editor Avril Graham, a WAG fave, and former WAG columnist Martha Handler – enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and the pianism of Héloise Pieaud, who was playing the “Downton” theme, “Did I Make the Most of Loving You?”, as we interviewed Lord Carnarvon. (Was it a sign?)

Then we all repaired upstairs for more conversation and eats as cigar smokers took to the terrace to puff as the rest of us marveled at the view of midtown Manhattan skyscrapers gleaming diamond-hard against the crisp, inky night.

For more, visit highclerecastle.co.uk, highclerecastlespirits.com and highclerecastlecigar.com.

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