NIGHTLIFE

Lon­don is awash with gin bars, from one serv­ing 14,000 dif­fer­ent gin and tonic com­bi­na­tions to another that lets you dis­till your own bot­tle of gin to take home, says Sam Rogg

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Drink your way around Lon­don’s great­est gin bars, from the Hol­born Din­ing Room’s Gin Bar to The Dis­tillery.

Love gin? Then you’ve come to the right city. Since the Mid­dle Ages, Lon­don has been dis­till­ing vast quan­ti­ties of the spirit, which is de­rived from ju­niper berries. So much so that by the mid-18th cen­tury, the cap­i­tal was said to be in the grip of a ‘gin craze’, forc­ing Par­lia­ment to pass Gin Acts and dis­til­la­tion bans. Thank­fully, things have re­laxed a lot since then and th­ese days you’ll find craft dis­til­leries and gin bars ga­lore.

If you think all gin and ton­ics taste the same, you’ve clearly never been to Hol­born Din­ing

Room’s Gin Bar, which boasts more than 400 va­ri­eties of the spirit and 30 dif­fer­ent ton­ics. With more than 14,000 pos­si­ble gin and tonic pair­ings, from well-known in­ter­na­tional brands through to small-batch lo­cal dis­tillers, it can be over­whelm­ing know­ing where to start. Sim­ply let the bar­tenders know what kind of herbs, spices, fruit or flo­ral flavours you like, and they’ll be able to find the ex­act com­bi­na­tion to suit your palate. Our favourite? The East In­dia Com­pany’s gin mixed with Ledger’s nat­u­rally sweet­ened tonic (252 High Hol­born, WC1V 7EN).

For those who can’t face the jour­ney from bar to bed, there’s The Dis­tillery – a bou­tique gin ho­tel with three beau­ti­ful rooms that over­looks Por­to­bello Road in Not­ting Hill. This is where the world-fa­mous Por­to­bello Road Gin is made. Down­stairs, there’s a time­less cock­tail bar called The Rest­ing Room, but head up­stairs and you’ll find GinTon­ica, a colour­ful tapas and gin bar in­spired by Spain’s Basque re­gion. Pull up a stool by the open kitchen or small cor­ner bar and watch the ex­pert chefs and bar­tenders whip up some of the best G&Ts and small plates in Lon­don. We rec­om­mend a G’Vine Nouai­sion cock­tail or straight-up Kokoro gin from Ja­pan, no ice, to re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate its earthy black pep­per notes (186 Por­to­bello Rd, W11 1LA).

You can see how some of the cap­i­tal’s award-win­ning gin is made at the City of

Lon­don Dis­tillery (C.O.L.D) in Black­fri­ars. Choose from a range of tours and ex­pe­ri­ences – we rec­om­mend the in­trigu­ing Evo­lu­tion of Gin Tour to find out how the spirit has devel­oped over the cen­turies. You’ll love its five-flight gin tast­ing. Or get hands-on at a Gin Lab Ex­pe­ri­ence, which lets you de­sign and dis­till your own bot­tle of gin to take home – the ul­ti­mate sou­venir for any gin lover (22-24 Bride Lane, EC4Y 8DT).

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This im­age: Hol­born Din­ing Room’s Gin Bar Below: a cock­tail at The Dis­tillery

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