A gin-lover’s guide to London
A little while back in August 2012, The London Evening Standard published a gin-lover’s guide to London featuring what they felt were some must visit gin spots in the great city.
We have reproduced the article below but you can see the original here. Original article by Olivia Williams.
A gin-lover’s guide to London
Whether it’s James Bond’s martini or a gin-laced high tea, London’s classic spirit is revelling in a ‘ginaissance’. Get in on the juniper-scented action at one of these decadent spots where it’s always gin o’clock.
The Colonial G&T
It’s not 1899, but you wouldn’t know that at Battersea bar Powder Keg Diplomacy. Over a century later, there’s still something very soothing about a Pink Gin on a velvet sofa. Head-bartender Matt is always coming up with unusual seasonal cocktails, so find a place in the conservatory and order a summery Gin & Deuce – made with Plymouth Navy Strength gin and English sparkiling wine.
Powder Keg Diplomacy, 147 St John’s Hill, SW11.powderkegdiplomacy.co.uk
The Tea with a tipple
Respectable people wait until six o’clock for a soupcon of gin, but restraint is over-rated. If you need any convincing wait till you see the warm scones, macaroons and gin cocktails at the Hendrick’s High Tea. Perfect for a languid summer afternoon on the cobbled courtyard.
Hush, Brook Street, W1. Hendrick’s High Tea is served from Monday to Saturday, 3pm to 6pm. hush.co.uk
Deservedly over-scribed, this tour gets booked up months in advance. Book now and when it’s your turn, some time in October probably, you’ll get an engaging history of gin, enthusiastically told in this dinky distillery in Hammersmith (the first new distillery in London for over 200 years). Marvel at Prudence, the copper pot that makes all their products, while sipping the delectable gin she makes.
Sipsmith Distillery, 27 Nasmyth Street, W6. Tours run from 6.30pm to 8pm on Wednesdays and cost £12. Book through firstname.lastname@example.org
The Gin Palace
So hands up, it’s not an actual gin palace – it’s a hipster bar masquerading as one. Still, it does a pretty good job. Like the Victorian originals, it features dark wood fixtures in the atmospheric cellar room – but the cocktails are very 21st century. The windowed laboratory, where they make cocktail ingredients like the Honey and Lavender Shrub, is a great touch.
Worship Street Whistling Shop, 63 Worship Street, EC2. whistlingshop.com
The Drinking Den
Suitably low-lit for a Soho back street, The Star at Night has an overwhelming 40 gins to choose from – and there is nothing standard about these G&Ts. They come in a balloon glass, not the traditional high ball, which admittedly sounds pretentious but seems to make a big difference. Choose one of their rare brands, such as the Bathtub, the Tanqueray Rangpur or the Caorunn.
The Star at Night, 22 Great Chapel Street, W1. thestaratnight.com
Likely to be the inspiration for James Bond’s signature tipple, the bar at Dukes was Ian Fleming’s favourite. Unsurprisingly, they take their Martini preparation seriously. The barman wheels over his gleaming trolley to make it in front of you and explain a little of the history. It’s expensive, but one drink is certainly enough to feel the effects. Dress up.
Dukes Hotel, St James’s Place, W1. dukeshotel.com
A little hub of culinary activity is flourishing in this corner of Bermondsey, under the railway arches. Among all the exotic food stalls is the picturesque Sparrow Gin pop-up bar. They start serving at 9am and carry on decadently through the morning till 2pm. Buy a bottle of Sparrow and try it at home with grapefruit instead of lemon, as the distiller suggests.
Maltby Street Market, SE1 is every Saturday. maltbystreet.com
The Historic Tavern
The Viaduct Tavern is far more special than it looks from the outside; built on the site of the Giltspur St Comptor, a debtors’ prison, you can see the grim, cramped cells for yourself in the basement. It’s a bona-fide Victorian gin palace, and the decadent interior has survived, including paintings of three maidens, cut glass panels and a rare built-in office for the days when punters had to buy ‘gin tokens’.
The Viaduct Tavern, 126 Newgate Street, EC1. viaducttavern.co.uk
Reeking of alcohol isn’t something you usually pay for. However, wafting around in a haze of Juniper Sling is another matter entirely. Inspired by London dry gin and created from a heady mix of juniper berries, cardamom, and black cherry, this fragrance will give you the heady rush of gin any time, hopefully without the disapproving looks.
Juniper Sling is available at seven Penhaligon’s shops around London. penhaligons.com
Unassuming from the street, Gerry’s is a Soho landmark. This is no ordinary grog shop – it’s an Aladdin’s cave overflowing with more gins than you know where to begin with. At last count, they had 54 different varieties and it’s fun to look around even if you’re just window-shopping. Gerry’s prides itself on spotting the trends, so you’ll find obscure brands that are usually only stocked at bars, like Whitley Neill and Gilpin’s.
Gerry’s, 74 Old Compton Street, W1. gerrys.uk.com