From Hogarth’s horrifying 1751 work Gin Lane to the gin palaces of the 1800s, London has always had a special relationship with gin. In the eighteenth century, it is estimated that the average Londoner got through a staggering 14 gallons of the stuff a year!
We’re not recommending you drink Mother’s Ruin in those quantities today. But we have picked 5 of our favourite joints to enjoy a refreshing G&T or a gin-based cocktail in the capital. Cheers!
The London Gin Club
An 18th Century name for gin was 'strip me naked'..perhaps this snippet from a1736 newspaper is the reason why! pic.twitter.com/gyFzM7nzmp
— London Gin Club (@LondonGinClub) May 17, 2015
In the heart of Soho, The London Gin Club offers a choice of over 130 of the finest gins money can buy. Expect spectacular gin-based cocktails on their specialist menu alongside a list of ‘ginfusions’. The ‘ginfluenced’ food menu includes some particularly boozy pies (£5) – think slow braised beef in damson gin with horseradish, or ham slow cooked in gin with a champagne, cream, pea and onion sauce. You won’t find a better gin and tonic in Soho – possibly in London, and the bar staff really know their stuff.
The London Gin Club (at The Star), 22 Great Chapel Street, W1F 8FR – thelondonginclub.com
Portobello Road Gin has its headquarters above this Notting Hill pub, so you know you’re guaranteed a fine G&T. Handcrafted with nine botanicals, a generous slug of juniper and fresh citrus notes from the use of lemon, bitter orange and coriander, with a sweet peppery finish, this is a gin best served simply with tonic and a twist of grapefruit. Head to The Ginstitute upstairs for a chance to sample not just the gins themselves but also a little of this wonderful spirit’s long and, at times, miserable story, with a unique opportunity to create your own individual gin recipe.
171 Portobello Rd, Notting Hill, W11 2DY – portobellostarbar.co.uk
— 214 Bermondsey (@214Bermondsey) February 1, 2015
Tucked away and the end of Bermondsey Street, this intimate and friendly bar serves over 80 gins alongside a delicious array of carefully created cocktails, and is the home of hand-crafted BTW Bermondsey Tonic Water which allows the full flavour of each gin to shine through. A gin & tonic tasting flight invites you to try three different mini G&Ts, including a Tour of London option featuring the super light Little Bird from Peckham Rye, the bergamot-scented Half Hitch from Camden, and the aromatic Moonshine Kids Dogs Nose from W1.
214 Bermondsey St, SE1 3TQ – 214-bermondsey.co.uk
— Graphic Bar London (@graphicbar) May 12, 2015
In Soho’s Golden Square, you can enjoy the UK’s largest selection of gin at Graphic. And what better backdrop than installations by innovative and inspirational artists, including Turner Prize winner Mark Wallinger. Graphic has over 235 different gins from across the globe, or if you fancy something a little different try their paint tin punches, historic cocktails and disco drinks. Try the Monkey 47, an unusual gin from the Black Forest containing many unique botanicals, served with sherbety Fentimans tonic and cranberries. The Graphic gin social is a new monthly get together of like-minded gin enthusiasts.
4 Golden Square, W1F 9HT – graphicbar.com
City of London Distillery Bar
— TheGinBottle (@TheGinBottle) May 18, 2015
The City of London Distillery – C.O.L.D – opened in 2012, bringing gin distilling back to the City of London after an absence of nearly 200 years. The speakeasy-style retro cocktail bar overlooks their striking copper stills, where you can enjoy a cocktail or share in one of their gin experiences – tours, classes or gin flights. Try their own award-winning City of London Dry Gin – very clean, crisp and bursting with citrus flavour – or one of over 200 gins from around the world.
22 Bride Lane, EC4Y 8DT – cityoflondondistillery.com
Main image: London Gin Club