Londoners are some of the best boozers on the planet, so it's no surprise that this city is full of people making the stuff, rarely a month goes by without some new micro distillery, craft brewery, bootlegging lunatic doing something new. We're all for it, check out these spirits which have been lovingly brewed in our home town.
Famously dubbed ‘mother’s ruin’ in the 18th Century, this was a spirit that was distilled in bathtubs all across the city, in fact 10 million gallons of the stuff was made a year. It was cheap and strong but insanely bad and the death rate soared. Luckily the bottles made today are artisanal and damn delicious:
Ian Hart (former financier) is the man behind Sacred Gin, which he makes in his living room in Highgate (no jokes, BarChick’s been there). It’s lush and fresh tasting and is individually distilled with 12 originally sourced botanicals like fresh citrus, juniper, cardamom and nutmeg. It's so good it's what Alessandro chooses to use in his infamous Martinis at Dukes.
Good news it’s not too sacred to try, get your hands on a bottle here.
The sexy, but complicated Prudence, Patience and Constance are at the heart of everything these guys do, these ladies are their copper stills (and their first still Prudence was the first of her kind to be set up in London since 1820). The swan on the label is a reference to the ‘swan’s neck’ pipe when the spirit vapour turns above the still. They have three different gins: one dry and zesty; one very junipery; and one flavoursome sloe gin. Book in for a tour of the distillery and sip, sip and away.
COLD bar has brought back distilling to the City after a 200 year drought. Their two copper stills, Clarissa and Jennifer, are busy pumping out fine-balanced gin with a zesty finish. Sit back and relax in the speakeasy bar and watch the ladies in action.
With his new gin Mark Holdsworth is bringing back to life Camden Lock’s past industrial glory days. His aim is to reconnect locals with the hard graft of the industrial area through the bottle and the notes of black tea and bergamot. Pick up a bottle from his Land Rover which you’ll find parked in Camden Lock and meet the man himself.
These guys are bringing spirit production back to the east end after more than a century, in the old glue factory in Bow Wharf. Their bar is mega so hit it up for cocktails and a tour of the shiny distillery. Their small batch, copper distilled gin is distilled with only the finest botanicals including coriander, Angelica root and juniper berries.
Portobello Star is a classic cocktail Tavern in Notting Hill, which is a must visit if you’re into your gin. Book into their Ginstitute upstairs, you'll leave a gin pro and having made a bottle of your own unique blend. Plus they’ll keep a copy of your recipe so you can get your bottle again and again. No more supermarket gin for you ever again.
£25 or £100 pp at The Ginstitute
Not so small batch and artisanal as the others, but these guys have been doing it for years so don't knock em. This London Dry is made right here in London's Kennington. This gin is over 200 years old and for the first time ever you can get an hour long tour of the distillery where London’s most awarded gin is made. They’ve got three different types of gin: Beefeater 24, Beefeater Dry and Burrough’s Reserve which is rested in oak barrels.
Dodd’s Gin is uniquely crafted at their distillery in Battersea. The organic ingredients are distilled with the help of Christina, the 140L copper alembic, and the delicate botanicals by Little Albion, the vacuum still. Ingredients include red raspberry leaf and London honey.
Peckham Rye is home to many things, but above all Little Bird Gin. Distilled with ginger, orange, grapefruit and 7 other botanicals, it’s delicious and fresh. ‘London Dry’ means no artificial flavours or colours. Perfect.
Born in 2009 after eight years of testing and 38 different recipes. Made in the Thames Distillery in London, only 240 bottles per day are produced so it is a luxury spirit made with 14 different botanicals. It’s bright and smooth.
Vodka is a neutral spirit without any colour or distinctive character or aroma, but these guys have made it delicious and sexy. Here’s what to drink:
This bar is impressive, not only because it knocks out some mega spirits and has a shop in which you can buy them, but behind the bar is a super shiny distillery. Their small batch grain vodka is bang on.
Sipsmith is a familiar name (and drink) on everyone’s lips, but it’s not only their gin that they are famous for. They have a sipping vodka distilled in copper for purity and also a damson vodka which is warm, plummy and full-bodied. Book in for a tour of their distillery if you really wanna get geeky.
£24.25. Tours £15 pp