London’s gin revival continues apace, with more and more specialist drinking dens popping up across all corners of the city. These are our top picks.
The Gin Bar, Holborn
This relatively new-gin-kid-on-the-block turned heads when it first opened, with its 500-strong gin collection and 30 different tonics, (including its own signature one). That’s over 14,000 different gin and tonic pairings. Our heads are spinning already.
Under Flour & Grape restaurant in Bermondsey you’ll find this secret gin bar where the G&Ts are taken so seriously, they’ve insisted on making their own home-made tonic, (created with specially imported quinine that allows the delicate gin botanicals to sing out). Test your taste buds with a blind gin flight of three different G&Ts. Try and make it down to a Sunday Social, with a weekly changing menu of gin tipples from £5 a pop.
214 Bermondsey, 214 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ
Mother's Ruin, Walthamstow
North Londoners can’t rave enough about this tiny, no frills Walthamstow gin bar, which is based within the Mother’s Ruin distillery in an old first world war munitions factory building. These guys specialise in making fruit liqueurs, so if you’re a big sloe fan, this is where to head.
Mother's Ruin, Unit 18, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall Street, E17 9HQ
Graveney Gin, Tooting
Up-and-coming Tooting naturally demands a trendy gin distillery and bar. These guys fill that hole with their organic, handcrafted batch gin, made on site at their little home in the market. A recent addition to their base is a small bar out the front, so you can pull up a high stool and glug fresh G&Ts from a large copper mug.
Graveney Gin, 21-23 Tooting High Street, SW17 0SN
Mr. Fogg’s Gin Parlour, Covent Garden
Head up the stairs at Mr. Fogg’s rowdy beer tavern and you’ll find this cosy old-world gin haven with fancy sofas, and one hell of a gin collection. There are over 150 bottles to work your way through. You can also book onto a gin masterclass where you’ll get a full history of the good stuff while you sample a diverse range of gins from across the globe.
Mr. Fogg's Gin Parlour, 1 New Row, WC2N 4EA
The London Gin Club, Soho
This place is unassuming from the outside (it looks just like a standard London pub), but walk inside and enter a 1930s gin shrine. It doesn’t look like it’s changed since it opened over 80 years ago. There are 350 different bottles behind the bar, and cocktail recipes dating back to the 1800s. Every effort goes into making sure you have the optimum gin drinking experience, served with large cracked ice so your drink won’t dilute. The tonic, and even the garnish, are carefully thought out to match perfectly with your gin of choice.
The London Gin Club, (The Star) 22 Great Chapel Street, W1F 8FR
This laid-back restaurant/bar is so big on gin that they even put it in their sausages. They also have a gin-dedicated cocktail list, all made with Little Bird (the local gin from just down the road). Tipples come in at a decent price of £6-£8.
Pedler, 58 Peckham Rye, SE15, 4JR
The City sure isn’t short on gin distilleries doubling as bars. Located in The City of London Distillery, this smart speakeasy is a nice place to kick back, with plush leather seats and a view of the large copper stills. There are 180 gins behind the bar, and a strong gin-heavy cocktail list. You can also book in for a number of ‘gin experiences’ from distillery tours to distilling your very own bottle of gin. They’ll save the recipe forever so you can keep coming back for more!
C.O.L.D, 22-24 Bride Lane, EC4Y 8DT
Worship Street Whistling Shop, Shoreditch
Dark, atmospheric and lit by an indoor street lamp, it feels like you’ve just stepped inside an old Victorian gin palace. The bar also has its own cocktail lab and masterclasses, with all sorts of crazy instruments used to create infused gin potions. There are over 80 types to choose from.
Worship Street Whistling Shop, 63 Worship Street, EC2A 2DU
The Distillery, Notting Hill
London's first 'gin hotel', The Distillery on Portobello Road is a four-floor mecca of gin-quaffing. Head to GinTonica for ultimate G&Ts served in a huge copa de balon — shaped in such a way that you can really take in the gin's botanical aromas. It's also home to Portobello Road Gin and as such there are loads of home-brewed concoctions available behind the two bars, alongside 100 other gins handpicked from around the world. The Ginstitute is a gin-museum-slash-masterclass led by bar legend Jake Burger, and there are even three guest bedrooms to collapse in once your glass is downed. Hic.
The Distillery, 186 Portobello Road, W11 1LA
Graphic Bar, Soho
There are over 180 different gins available at this buzzy Soho bar. If you’re in the market for a G&T or gin martini, you’ll be spoilt for choice, but the bartenders will gladly whip you up just about any gin-based cocktail you can or can’t name. The signature serves are the Paint Tin Punches: pick from the red, yellow or green buckets, each one comes filled with a different gin punch for £8.50. Showing a complete dedication to all things gin, Graphic also run a Gin Social the first Monday of the month when there are gin-based tastings and talks as well as the occasional free cocktail.
Graphic Bar, 4 Golden Square, W1F 9HT
This plush Mayfair hotel bar was frequented by Ian Fleming and is said to be the inspiration for Bond’s classic ‘shaken not stirred’ line. A martini here will set you back around twenty quid.
There’s always a punch-packing gin punch on the go at this sleek and cool downstairs bar beneath Soho’s Hix restaurant.
The Negroni bars at both Smithfield and Soho branches are among the best spots in town to sup this classic gin-based cocktail.
Boasting their own cordials and infusions, this small, neighbourhood bar and bistro in Chiswick puts local gins front and centre.
A temple to mother's ruin is a highly unexpected find on Whitechapel's Leman Street, but there it is. A genuinely lovely place with over 100 types of gin to choose from.
A spirit-led cocktail bar off Bow Lane in the City of London, Merchant House has a decent collection of awards to its name. It's tucked-away location merits the phrase 'hidden gem' but within there's a sprawling selection of over 350 gins (and rums too).