London has given us many great things: Virginia Woolf, East 17, gin. For our final London Week edition, we’re championing that last one. Gin was developed in the Netherlands but when Britain allowed unlicensed gin production in the early 18th century, it kicked-off the gin craze. We know it’s supposed to make us maudlin and feckless but actually, it always makes us very happy. There are now only a handful of gin distilleries in London. We asked five of them for their best gin cocktail.
PORTOBELLO ROAD MARTINI
Launched last year and distilled in Wandsworth, Portobello Gin is from the team behind the Portobello Star pub. “Combine 40ml gin,” says general manger Joe Gunner, “with a dash Abbott’s Bitters, 2.5ml Gammel Dansk and 20ml Lillet Blanc. Add a garnish of grapefruit and serve straight up.”
Sipsmith’s been distilling gin near Ravenscourt Park since 2008. Here’s master distiller Jared Brown’s negroni recipe: “To an ice filled cocktail shaker, add 4 sliced strawberries, 60ml gin, 40ml Campari and 50ml bianco vermouth. Shake vigorously then strain in to some well-chilled cocktail glasses.”
Beefeater was created in 1820 and is made in Kennington. Here’s master distiller Desmond Payne’s punch recipe (serves eight): “In a bowl, stir 600ml gin, 600ml sparkling wine, 400ml apple juice, 200ml fresh lemon juice, 200ml elderflower cordial and 100ml sugar syrup. Pretty up with apple.”
THE GINGER SPICE
Sparrow was launched this April by Tim Moore and it’s slowly being release into bars and shops. Chris Edwards of The Parlour Bar in Canary Wharf is a fan: “Shake 50ml Sparrow Gin, 25ml fresh lemon and 25ml ginger syrup,” he says. “Pour into a collins glass, top with ginger beer and garnish with pickled ginger and daikon and edible flowers.”