In 2012 The City of London Distillery brought gin distillation back to the capital after a 200 year hiatus, and in doing so started something big. They were one of the first producers to turn gin into what it is today, experimenting with modern techniques, inventing recipes and playing around with new botanicals. The flavour of gin no longer begins and ends with juniper; there can be exotic notes of liquorice, pink grapefruit, vanilla,cardamom, coriander and rose to name but a few. Instead of giant, industrial tanks churning out gallons of gin a day, there is a more artisanal quality to the process, with beautiful, ornate copper stills (often affectionately named) trickling delicious gin into glass beakers. This is because a lot of these producers started out as a hobby in the back of a cocktail bar or in the corner of a kitchen; they make and sell gin for the love of the craft, nothing more, and have happened to turn it into a profession.
With the rise of the distilleries came the rise of the gin bars – with all those beautifully labelled bottles, it was obvious that bartenders would want to show them off and use them in exciting new ways. While a simple gin and tonic is still the most popular choice, we’ve become more discerning in our tastes. A slice of lemon just doesn’t cut it anymore – cucumber, mint, raspberries, pink peppercorns and even rosemary are all common additions to the classic cocktail. There are countless more adventurous gin-based drinks being shaken and stirred throughout the city, and there are entire clubs, bars and shops dedicated to the rapidly growing world of gin. If you’ve been put off by the flavour in the past and haven’t yet tried something from one of these new distillers, then give it a go – it’s an exciting time for gin, and London’s the perfect place to enjoy it.