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Top London bars to visit on World Gin Day

It’s World Gin Day this Saturday, providing Martini and Negroni fans the perfect excuse to celebrate the recent phoenix-like rise of Mother’s Ruin.

Simultaneously evoking the degradation and decay of Victorian England and the glitz and glamour of the Jazz Age in America, gin is experiencing its most exciting and meaningful renaissance since it took off in the US in the Roaring Twenties with the emergence of a cocktail culture during Prohibition.

A fresh interest in the spirit has arisen from the world’s cocktail capitals, from New York to Hong Kong, sparked by bartenders rediscovering gin through classics cocktails.

Sales of British gin have grown by 18% in the last two years, fuelled by the UK, US and Spain, where over 250 different gin brands are on sale, and bolstered by a dizzying array of small batch launches.

With Sacred and Sipsmith having blazed a bespoke trail in Highgate and Hammersmith respectively, a flood of craft distillers have entered the UK market in the last few years with new offerings that seek to differentiate themselves either via exotic botanicals or radical distillation methods.

But enough about sales and stats, what you really want to know is where to get your hands on a perfectly shaken Martini. Read on for our round-up of the best London bars to scope out during World Gin Day.

Dukes

Dukes

Dukes is an institution and somewhere all gin lovers should visit at least once. Ian Fleming allegedly came up with James Bond’s famous “shaken not stirred” line while knocking back a Martini there one evening. Today it is run by affable Italian bartender Alessandro Palazzi, who crafts his cocktails with a surgeon’s precision.

Martinis are made from a bespoke trolly with vermouth made exclusively for the bar by Sacred distillery, high quality gin, with Plymouth a favourite of Palazzi, and Amalfi lemon peel pinched for its essential oils. The Martini’s don’t come cheap, but they’re so strong you wont manage more than two.

Portobello Star

The Portobello Star in Notting Hill is home to both Portobello Road Gin’s HQ and the popular “Ginstitute” upstairs, a modern take on a Victoria gin palace run by bartender Jake Burger, where you can learn about London’s rich gin history and create your own blend from botanical distillates.

It also doubles as a museum featuring old gin posters and antique bottle of the spirit. The long, thin, mirrored bar lined with brown banquettes is part pub part cocktail palace, and is said to serve the best Manhattans in town.

London Gin Club

The London Gin Club started life as a Soho café but has morphed into one of the capital’s top gin palaces boasting over 200 different gins from around the world. Gin and tonics are served Spanish style in goldfish bowl-shaped glasses with a selection of garnishes matched specifically to your gin of choice.

The buzzy bar also serves cracking gin-based classic cocktails and “ginfusions” alongside cheese boards and antipasti platters. There’s also the option of four or eight-strong gin tasting menus for the most ardent of gin lovers.

City of London Distillery Bar

The first distillery to open in the square mile for over 150 years, the City of London Distillery has revived the art of gin making in the capital’s financial heart. In the basement bar downstairs you’ll find two gleaming copper stills, Clarissa and Jennifer, that bubble away with botanicals in their bellies, producing the bar’s bespoke gin and bespoke trial bottlings. The bar also serves a vast selection of gins from around the world.

Charlotte’s Bistro

Charlottes 279

Neighbourhood restaurant Charlotte’s Bistro in leafy Chiswick has become renowned for its Monday night “gin schools” that take place every week at Charlotte’s well-stocked bar. Each school shines a light on a different producer, the majority focusing on small independent gins from around the UK, from Sipsmith to Little Bird.

Best of all, the tutored tastings are free and include a Martini to boot. On Monday 15 June the focus will be on Da Mhile seaweed gin from Wales, which was created to pair with seaweed.

Graphic

Graphic in Soho is a gin lover’s sweet shop, boasting the UK’s most extensive gin collection, with around 250 different brands on display. Boasting pared-down, industrial inspired décor including low hanging bulbs and graffiti-etched shutters, its list is ever evolving and aims to cater to the most die hard of gin nuts. The bar serves small plates too, such as pulled pork fritters with a bacon mayonnaise, jerk wings with jerk ketchup and rarebit croquettes.

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