A classic G&T, whether you have it with a segment of lime, grapefruit or go all out with quince and blue cheese like how Six Storeys in Soho serves it, is a pretty perfect summer tipple.
Tomorrow (9th June) is National Gin Day, and you better believe we’re going to celebrate this 400-year-old spirit in style.
A brief history of gin
It is said that in 1585, English Soldiers who supported Antwerp during the Eighty Years’ War were already drinking genver (Dutch gin) in full appreciation of it’s calming, warming effects – also known as ‘Dutch courage’.
In London, the 18th century gin craze lasted 31 years (1720 – 1751) until laws and bad harvests halted consumption habits. But then, as if a phoenix from the ashes, Gordon’s London Dry Gin opened its first distillery in 1769, and with it came class, sophistication and triple distillation. No gin was made in London for 187 years until the City of London Distillery opened its doors in 2012, when the spirit’s rich history in our capital was revived.
So what are you waiting for, go sip some very good Devil’s Left Hand/Mother’s ruin/Ladies’ Delight in one of London’s coolest gin bars.
The Gibson, located in Old Street, arranges its drinks menu on the months of year. The summer months see strawberries, lavender and passionfruit amongst the flavour combinations, and chocolate, ginger and pistachio cream for winter.
This gin bar tells the tale of The Gibson Martini – with a pickled onion, not an olive. So the story goes, the year is 1908 at The Players Club in New York, Charles Dana Gibson challenges Charles Connelly to improve the martini. Connelly switches the olive for a pickled onion and The Gibson was created.
The Gibson continues to improve on their gin cocktail combinations, and with innovative flavour combinations, it is a one-stop wonder for all gin lovers. You’ll be sure to enjoy it, just as Charles Dana Gibson enjoyed it.
Also try: Purl, Half Hitch, Old Bakery Gin Distillery.
If you’re after an extra special evening of juniper berry exploration – 58 Gin in Dalston is a distillery with a difference. Their gin experiences offer three hours of tasting, teaching and a few nibbles as to not ruin your mother.
When a bar just will not suffice, gin experiences step in. 58 Gin will take you through the dark tales of gin’s East End past, as well as offer up signature serves using their gin, which boasts aromas of juniper, candied ginger, zesty lemon, coriander, and cubeb pepper.
The 58 Gin Distillery Experience is £85.77 per person, it offers you the chance to make, bottle, wax seal and label your own bottle of gin to take away with you. Plus a sensory guide and masterclass to advise on the best gin for you. You’ll get three cocktails to sip on, and top-ups from Fever Tree and Hildon water. Experience more than just a drink with this ‘Make Your Own Gin Class’.
Also try: Martello Hall, East London Liquor Company, Super Lyan.
214 promises, ‘There’s no pretense, just gin’, and that’s why we like it. The gin and cocktail bar, located where else than Bermondsey, opened in 2014 with over 100 gins on the menu.
With a huge selection of different gins comes a tasting menu bursting at the seams. 214 Bermondsey’s menu includes pages of tasting notes for each gin. This makes your decision much easier, you can base your search on what you want the leading flavour to be (rhubarb, rose, or pine and lime?), the finished mouthfeel (light, full or rounded?), or the gin’s origin.
Your gin will be paired with BTW tonic water. The BTW drinks company makes everything in London, and their tonic water is made with real quinine and no added botanicals to ensure the full flavour of the gin is the best it can be, without scented obstacles from the tonic mixer.
Also try: The Four Thieves, Little Bird, Graveney Gin.
GinTonica is the gin bar located inside The Distillery in Notting Hill, alongside their Ginstitute and Resting Room restaurant. Slip into something a bit more senorita than serious as you sip on GinTonica’s drinks served in a Copa de Balón. The direct translation from Spanish is balloon glass, and that is a pretty accurate description
The Copa de Balón was used in the hot kitchens of Basque area of Spain to keep drinks cold. The 21oz glass goblet has a bowl shape that enhances the botanicals and individual characteristics of each gin, and the garnish adds to the nose.
Try their Larios 12 with Nordic mist tonic, tangerine, lemon slice and juniper berries, the Copperhead Gin with Fever Tree Mediterranean tonight with orange, cardamom and coriander, or the Gin Mare served with 1724 tonic water, many, black pepper and basil. The interesting flavour combinations are why GinTonica is a must-visit location in West London. Come for the gin, stay for… the gin.
Also try: Six Storeys, Graphic Bar, Portobello Star, The London Gin Club.
Holborn Dining Room is self-proclaimed the best-stocked gin bar in London. They offer over 500 gins and 30 tonics, making more than 14,000 gin pairing options. This is one self-proclamation we can believe in, unlike Kanye calling himself the greatest artist of our time.
Head to Holborn to fuel yourself with gin, sourced from international brands, local distillers and small batches. The menu will be sure to dazzle your taste buds, so what are you waiting for?
Also try: Mr Foggs, London Gin Club, City of London Distillery, The Trading House, Dalloway Terrace (they’ve partnered with Tanqueray No. Ten Gin for National Gin Day, enjoy a four-course meal plus three specifically selected gins. The event takes place on June 12th, details here).