Gin may have grown up in Holland, but London is where it took its gap year and came of age. Now it's firmly back, but with a worldlier, more sophisticated edge. The slovenly 18th-century gin craze epitomised by Hogarth's etchings has, 300 years on, been replaced by a wave of juniper-rejuvenation, spawning numerous gin bars in London. Here's our pick of the best.
A gin bar with a theatrical theme, Mr. Fogg's Tavern has the feel of a Victorian drawing room, a welcome respite from the madding crowds of Covent Garden. The Gin Parlour has more than 300 gins to choose from, and a gin master on hand to help you choose your perfect tipple. For serious gin lovers, there is a gin safari exploring gin, botanicals and tonics to help you create your perfect drink. Or enjoy G & Tea in Aunt Gertrude's Salon, with tastings, gin based cocktails and Victorian delicacies. Reservations are recommended.
Boasting around 220 gins and a selection of rums that would be more than enough to keep you going when sailing the high seas, Merchant House City basement bar has an old world, moneyed charm. The owners would rather this atmospheric hideaway be known as a ‘merchant bar'; but it's hard to look past the juniper juice. Enthusiasts can find new favourites, while those seeking enlightenment can take a masterclass. Alternatively, just sit back in the blue leather banquettes and try a vintage gin-based G&T or martini.
Tucked neatly down a hidden street behind the Tate Modern gallery, The Distillery bar is a stylish, sultry, sexy place to feed your gin addiction. And if things get really interesting you can always grab a room at the Hilton Hotel it stands within. There are roughly 70 gins to choose from, including a vintage selection that dates back to the 1940s (!!), but if you're having trouble deciding, talk to Ricardo behind the bar and he will advise on where to start your journey. It's advisable that you sample the fragrant signature cocktails too. This is living!
Appealing to Shoreditch revellers and City types, the Victorian-style gin palace, Worship Street Whistling Shop, is not short of a top-class tipple. Making use of an in-house lab that would cause even Heston Blumenthal to raise a perfectly crafted eyebrow, the cellar bar has a selection of experimental cocktails, international gins and Dutch jenevers. Dark and intriguing, Worship Street Whistling Stop (definitely difficult to say after a few G&Ts) is under the ownership of Fluid Movement, the group behind Purl and VOC.
If you can't take the gin to the people, take the people to the gin. With a choice of more than 200 gins (soon to be around 300), including the City of London Dry Gin made on-site, you're not short of options at City of London Distillery Bar. Discover how gin's made on a tour, take part in a masterclass or create your own gin featuring a handpicked selection of botanicals.
Who says that gin palaces all need to be Victorian hangouts, possess speakeasy vibes, and require some kind of secret password to enter?! Bounce Shoreditch, a basement bar in Shoreditch, is not the gin bar for those who enjoy peace and quiet. This is the bar for those who want a more rambunctious night out as the garnish in their gin and tonic. Ping pong tables, glow-in-the-dark mayhem, loud music, large groups loving life, and a gin bible of more 4 options. Hold onto your top hats, it's going to be a hell of a ride.
There's no fuss, no pretence and no room for other spirits at 214 Bermondsey. The focus is on gin at this modern bar below Antico in Southwark, an area that was once chock full of drinking dens. You could spend hours looking through the tasting and botanical notes of more than 50 gins; or simply ask the knowledgeable staff and select one to go along with the bar's very own tonic.
With a collection of 261 different gins – at the last count – Graphic bar off Golden Square has an urban feel with garage-style doors and bare concrete bar. Sample lesser-known gins in a G&T, opt for a gin-based punch in a ‘paint tin', try historical cocktails or go modern with a ‘disco days' drink inspired by the 1970-90s. Join in the Juniper Club on Mondays for tastings and masterclasses.
As home to The Ginstitute – where you can discover a Victorian gin bar and even blend your own gin – The Portobello Star is a gin-lovers' paradise. Here, you can order The Portobello Road Martini, made using the Star's own No. 171 Portobello Road Gin; or be patriotic and sip a Queen Mother Cocktail in homage of the Queen Mum who was partial to the odd gin or two.
Amongst Soho's animated bars, The Star at Night features low lighting, a convivial atmosphere and top-quality spirits. Downstairs is a daytime café, but it's upstairs where your gin journey will unfold. Choose a G&T from more than 40 gins; or, if you're really hooked, join the bar's London Gin Club that allows access to more than 100 rare and unique gins, as well as tastings and events.
What's your favourite gin bar in London? Leave your suggestions below in the comments box.
Recent Bars, Pubs, and Clubs Articles
- 10 Best Gin Bars in London (15 Nov 18)
- 24 Hour Drinking: 10 Late Night Bars in London (22 Feb 18)
- 5 Best Heavy Metal & Hard Rock Bars In London (23 Nov 16)
- Top 5 Mid-Week After-Work Cocktail Bars In London (02 Apr 14)
- Hopping Mad For London's First ‘Crowdsourced' Beer? (05 Jan 14)