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.
Want to savour a gin and tonic done the right way?! After a lengthy tour around town, we’re bringing you the best gin bars in London that are great for a tipple or three.
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1. East London Liquor Company
Newcomers on the scene, the ELLC produce three of their own gins. You can sip these tasty gins while admiring the two gleaming stills behind the bar. There is a bar on-site serving up their own spirits, as well as superb varieties from all over the world.
2. Jensen’s Gin
Jensen’s is one of the most acclaimed distilleries in London and it offers special behind the scenes tours, showcasing how Christian Jensen’s gin is created. Try the full range of the collection, including Bermondsey Dry Gin, the 1840’s inspired Old Tom Gin, and a range of other flavored experimental elixirs.
3. City of London Distillery
This was the first new gin distillery to open in London since the 18th century, and the only one in the Square Mile. 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 pre-booked ‘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.
They have created a wonderful London Dry that is infused with fruity flavours such as lemon, pink grapefruit and fresh orange. C.O.L.D offers you the chance to distil your own bottle of gin as well!
4. Merchant House
This cool basement bar has old-fashioned charm and around 220 gins and rums to keep you going. Sit back and sip a gin based martini or G&T. Merchant House offers a masterclass gin tasting featuring five different styles of European gin, as well as a vintage gin bottled in the 1950s.
This stylish modern bar has a dazzling collection of around 180 different types of gin – the most extensive collection in the UK. They even have a gin bible you can use as a reference for choosing the right one. Join the Juniper Club on Mondays for masterclasses and tastings.
6. The Portobello Star
This is another gin bar that doesn’t just serve gin, it makes it as well. Their Portobello Road No. 171 gin is distilled upstairs and they serve many cocktails featuring the unique spirit. The Portobello Star is also home to “The Ginstitute” which is a museum devoted to gin.
7. 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.’
8. 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 speciality 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.
9. Two One Four Bermondsey
Back to the good old brick and mortar, Two One Four 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 homemade tonic, for example, can be paired with Bermondsey’s Jensen for a drink that hasn’t travelled out of South East London.
Fancy a G&T?
Now that you know some of the best gin bars in London, it’s time to get out there and enjoy those tots of Mother’s Ruin! If gin isn’t your go-to tipple, take a peek at our other drinks and tasting experiences, from whisky, coffee, wine and beyond.