Put down that pre-mixed can of gin and tonic. If you've a taste for juniper, there's a club you need to join. If your perception of gin is along the lines of "mother's ruin" or that stuff that makes you cry after a bad day, hold up. The London Gin Club can change your mind.
The Star at Night in Soho has been serving great cocktails, expertly made for yonks. But with the recent launch of the London Gin Club, they're publicly declaring their devotion to gin in all its glorious diversity.
On our first visit we had a Gin and It, just to see what it was. It was divine.
Our subsequent and diligent research has focused on tasting different G&T combinations in the care of the super knowledgeable and friendly staff. This has led us to some surprising discoveries. For example, London Dry Gin tastes completely different to a Genever (go with a friend, try both). Depending on which botanicals have been used to make the gins, they have distinctive flavours and colours. Plymouth Gin Navy Strength might be 57% abv but paint stripper it is not (seriously nice). Oh, and whichever gin and whichever tonic you plump for, it will taste better hand-made at the Star and served in a balloon glass. Don't bother with a straw.
There are around 40 gins on the current list, with new ones being added all the time. Additions last week included Haymans 1850, which is cask rested and created in the style of the gin-palace gins of the Victorian era and Ransom Old Tom, an American gin which has been created by an historian to be an accurate revival of gins from the golden age of cocktails in the 1800s.
It's free to join the London Gin Club by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Once you've got your membership card benefits include invitations to gin themed events, a loyalty card scheme, discounts on bottles of gin and a lovely feeling of being in on something really special.
Or you can drop into the Star (open Tuesday-Saturday, 6-11.30pm) and sign up there. This Friday it's a night dedicated to G&T — the ideal opportunity to try out that balloon glass and the expertise of the staff.
Find The Star at Night at the junction of Hollen Street and Great Chapel Street, W1. For table reservations (recommended) call 020 7494 2488 or email email@example.com.
Photos by Peter Berthoud.