It’s perhaps thanks to the wild gin craze of the 18th century and the ensuing suppression of the juniper-based spirit that we still brush gin under the carpet somewhat. Interestingly, some of the gin bars are now just as clandestine as the act of drinking and distilling gin used to be, but that doesn’t detract from their allure – it adds to them, in fact. After a lengthy tour of London, we’re bringing you the best gin bars around town that are great for a tipple or three.
The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town
As surreptitious as they come, The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town is only accessible through the door of a SMEG fridge in Spitalfields. No reservations are taken unless you’re after a private function, but don’t expect the bar to get too rammed. That is if you’re not planning to turn up on a Friday night. As well the good selection of gins, The Mayor does original and seasonal cocktails with outlandish names such as the ‘Yellow Bellied Scotsman.’
London Cocktail Club
The London Cocktail Club has five venues around the capital, three of which are dedicated to a spirit of some kind. The Goodge Street branch has its specialty in gin, and cocktails, as you might have assumed, are also at the fore. Fancy a Rhubarb and Custard, or will you settle for nothing but the Bees Knees? Just be warned, the music can at times err on the corny side.
City of London Distillery
In what probably used to be another underground drinking den, the City of London Distillery is a little different to your everyday gin bar. It features its own ‘Gin Lab’, in which prebooked ‘students’ can learn how gin is distilled before creating their own recipe then bottling it, labelling it, and taking the concoction home. If that wasn’t enough, the bar has on its menu gin flights as well as specialised ‘gin tours’ that divulge the history of gin in the City of London.
The Rib Room
The Rib Room is something of a contrast to the other gin bars around town. Given that it’s located in the rather elegant Jumeriah Carlton Tower hotel in Knightsbridge, it’s safe to say this place is a little more obvious. By all accounts, the Rib Room housed within is an homage to London as the home of gin. Bar manager Saverio has been behind the bar for an impressive twelve years. He has the knowledge to show for it, and thanks to him it’s more than likely you’ll be going home with a good idea of what your new favourite gin is.
Back to the good old brick and mortar, 214 is tucked away beneath an Italian restaurant in, you guessed it, Bermondsey. The bar is what every gin drinker is after, from the 50 varieties of gin to the gin flights with which to taste them. The most endearing aspect about 214 however is the fact they aren’t exaggerating when they say a lot of the stuff is locally made. Their home made tonic, for example, can be paired with Bermondsey’s Jensen for a drink that hasn’t travelled out of South East London.