At the forefront of London's gin revival is gin and cocktail bar, 214 Bermondsey. Even those who consider themselves gin connoisseurs should forget everything they think they know and prepare to start again.
Gone are the big name brands – choice is often more about habit than actual taste – and in their place, a globetrotting list of exciting, palate teasing gin. Expect brands such as Aviation from North America, The Botanist from Scotland and Bols Genever from Holland, the home of gin, and even Jensen’s Old Tome, made down the road in Bermondsey.
Keen not to mask the real flavour of gin, the team is even making their own tonic water because the quinine content of big-name tonics mask the spirit’s true flavour.
Perhaps the most exciting taste test is the gin flight – a collection of three named gins without labels, leaving you to taste and decide which is which. There is help at hand, if you get stuck, and the guys will happily discuss spirit provenance and characteristics.
The team have worked hard to create a list of gin cocktails that’s definitely old, new and borrowed in parts. The classic Gimlet – Plymouth gin with Rose’s lime juice, Bramble – Bulldog gin, lemon juice and Crème de Mure, and 214 Collins – Hammer gin, lemon juice, soda, Campari and orange bitters.
Of course there are the classics also, well 214 Bermondsey’s take on them, including the 214 Ginger Sour – Kings Ginger, Bulleit bourbon, lemon juice and egg white and Cucumber Mojito – Pampero Blanco rum, Midori, cucumber, lime and mint. Most cocktails are priced at around £8.
Housed in the basement of celebrated restaurant Antico, 214 Bermondsey sits on the site of the old Bermondsey Antiques Market. Reclaimed brickwork, wood panelling, and deep leather sofa create a mix of urban chic, harking back to the illustrious trading history of the outskirts of the City of London.
For those who haven’t already eaten upstairs, there’s a lighter menu of contemporary Italian small plates to accompany your drinks.