If you get excited about the whiff of juniper, these bars are the perfect tonic
Gin is in. The ‘ginaissance’ has hit full throttle, with a barrel-load of boutique distilleries popping up all over the country.
Gone are the days when, heaven forbid, your G&T was made with only four things: spirit, tonic, ice and a slice.
It’s time to get into the spirit and head to one of the capital’s best gin bars.
Tucked inside pie and mash shop F Cooke on Broadway Market, this place is all about gin (there are more than 30 different brands available). Add charcuterie, cheese boards, classic cocktails and a DJ into the mix and there’ll be no ruined mothers here.
Best for: hipster brands of booze
Where: 9 Broadway Market, E8 4PH
When: Thurs-Sat, 7pm-late
This bare-brick, low-lit hideaway in south London will make you feel as if you’re in a classic film.
Tucked beneath Italian foodie haunt Antico, this is where local 'ginsters' (gin plus hipsters equals 'ginsters', no?) go for their fix.
With over 80 bottles of gin and expert bartenders, this is one for cocktail lovers – but if you're indecisive, there are a number of gin-flights (that’s a tray of numbered mini G&Ts, a red wax sealed envelope and the bar’s extensive tasting notes) available, too. They even make their own tonic with specially imported quinine, which earns them extra brownie points.
Best for: cocktail lovers
Where: 214 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ
When: Tues-Wed, 5pm-11pm; Thurs, 5pm-1.30am; Fri-Sat, 5pm-1.30am; Sun, 4pm-10.30pm
This is the home of the Portobello Road gin (it's distilled upstairs), which automatically makes it one to visit in our book.
Naturally, there are plenty of cocktails using the stuff or any other of the 171 gins they stock that take your fancy. The best part? They also run The Ginstitute, a sort of experimental museum devoted to the tipple, if you will, upstairs.
At £100 a pop, it may seem pricey, but the trip upstairs includes a talk on the history of gin, tastings in the distillery room and a chance to blend whichever botanical you want to create your own spirit with. You’ll also leave with a bottle of your own blend, which makes the price seem a bit more manageable.
They'll also give you a bottle of Portobello Gin – not that we're saying yours won’t be top notch or anything...
Best for: the novice gin drinker
Where: 171 Portobello Road, W11 2DY
When: Sun-Thurs, 11am-11.30pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-12.30am
What could be better than sipping gin in the very place that it has been made in, with copper stills and everything? The bar also stocks 175 other gins and has some creative takes on the classic cocktails, too.
Warning: drinks are served short and strong, so it's best to order one of their meat or cheese platters to line your stomach. Well, if we must...
Best for: after work city types
Where: 23 Bride Lane, EC4Y 8DT
When: Mon-Fri, noon-11pm; Sat, 4pm-11pm
OK, this isn’t technically a gin bar, but it does stock more than 20 different brands of the spirit and the tipple dominates the cocktail list, so there’s really no reason to quibble.
Sip on a gin sour or gimlet while you tuck into some sliders, cod cheek popcorn or a Reuben on rye (that’s pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing).
Best for: cocktails and nibbles
Where: 25 Catherine Street, WC2B 5JS
When: Mon-Sat, noon-11.30pm; Sun, noon-10.30pm
This bustling cafe by day and buzzy Soho bar by night is notorious – and not just for being the home of The London Gin Club.
Suitably low-lit for a Soho back street, gin is the thing at The Star At Night, which serves 40 different kinds. We’re not just talking your usual suspects here either, but rarer brands such as Bathtub and the Caorunn.
Drinks are also served in huge balloon glasses, which earns them extra points.
Best for: gin geeks
Where: 22 Great Chapel Street, W1 8FR
When: Tues-Fri, 4pm-11.30pm; Sat, noon-11.30pm
This place on the fringes of Shoreditch looks like it's been styled on a Victorian gin palace: dark wood fixtures, faux-speakeasy decor and low-lit. And we really do mean low-lit.
However, the cocktails are very much 21st-century in style and they have more than 30 different varieties of gin, including some lesser-known numbers from the Netherlands.
Best for: a quiet drink – you can go completely unnoticed in the shadowy seclusion of their seating spots
Where: 63 Worship Street, EC2A 2DU
When: Tues, 5pm-midnight; Wed- Thurs, 5pm-1am; Fri-Sat, 5pm-2am