London Spirit: Gin Is In


Artesian/The Langham London

Jumpin’ juniper, gin is the spirit of the moment in London! Of course “mother’s ruin” has had a long history in this city, dating back to William III, then truly flourishing in Victorian times, but with new distilleries, dedicated gin bars, tasting experiences, master classes and even a weekend long festival, dare we say there’s never been a more “ginteresting” time to enjoy a tipple in London?  Here’s our round up of London’s greatest spirit:

Gin Bars

Holborn Dining Room

Last week, the swanky Rosewood London opened London's largest gin bar inside the Holborn Dining Room. Let’s see, 400 gins X 27 tonics = 14,035 possible Gin and Tonic pairings. (We love doing their math.) Unbeatable selection of small batch gins and unusual tonics, including Rosewood's very own signature tonic, made in-house using a top secret recipe. G&T is surely the the drink this summer.

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Another newcomer, the Intercontinental at the O2 has its own custom gin from Sipsmith (local gin maker, more on that in a moment), to sample at the Clipper Bar. Set almost over the Thames with gorgeous water views on all sides, like drinking on a yacht, but better.

Winner of the ‘World’s Best Bar’ for four consecutive years by Drinks International, Artesian at The Langham London is the place to go for innovative gin drinks, way beyond G&Ts or Martinis.  Our pick: the Crystal Chameleon: Tanqueray No. Ten, Pisco, lime, perilla, chilli and soy appears as if floating amidst dry ice. It’s the perfect combo of sour, sweet and a little salt.

You can’t really discuss gin in London without mentioning Dukes bar, at the Dukes Hotel in Mayfair, the haunt famously frequented by Ian Flemming, inspiring James Bond's 'shaken not stirred' line. Head barman Alessandro Palazzi makes London’s best gin martini, we say, enthusiastically whipped up on a table-side trolley.

For a pre- or post- theatre tipple, where gin the star of the show, The London Gin Club (at The Star in Soho), is the spot. The Gin Club sells nearly 270 gins, with the G&T their signature drink, served in a goblet, garnished with matching herbs, but for true aficionados they offer five different tasting menus ranging from £27 for four varietals to £55 for eight samples covering entire flavor spectrum gin has to offer. Booking ahead of time is essential.

Gin Distilleries & Experiences

Beefeater Distillery: London's oldest and most iconic gin, Beefeater, which traces its origins back to 1829, has been distilling on this site in Vauxhaul since 1958 and, in 2014, opened their doors to visitors, offering semi-guided tours. (History is told using an iPad and the gin making explained by an actual person.)  The tours are Monday – Saturday, lasting one hour, cost is £12 including a G&T and the chance to sniff the botanicals that give gin its characteristic flavor.

If you don't know Sipsmith, when it opened in 2009, it was the first new gin distillery in London since 1820.  Aficionados can tour and have a tasting at the distillery in Chiswick (west London) most weeknights at 6:30 p.m. Pay attention, booking is essential -- most tours sold out until August.

More central is the City of London Distillery, which opened in 2012, here you taste, tour and even make your own custom batch of gin. And then there's the "Ginstitute" at the Portobello Star in Notting Hill, where a Gin Instructor teaches a brief history of the spirit and how prepare the five classic gin cocktails: The Martini, The Tom Collins, The Negroni, The Clover Club and The Bramble.  For something really different, try DRUNCH, a unique tasting event offered by artisan brand, Butler’s, a small-batch gin known for its botanical flavors of lemongrass and cardamom. The creator/owner Ross Butler offers five to six tastings aboard his speedboat while cruising the canals of north London, £29.50 each, for a maximum of six people.

And that’s not all, on June 11 (also known as World Gin Day) and June 12, Gin Foundry, a highly informational web site with reviews and gin for sale, is hosting Junipalooza, a weekend long event at the Tobacco Docks in East London with 37 distilleries from all over the world and about 80 gins to try.  Each ticket includes samples from all of the distillers either served up neat or in a micro G&T, mini-master classes, and a shop on site.






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