Please note, Chapel Down Gin Works is now closed. Time Out London Editors, January 2020.
It now looks like a car showroom, but this former petrol station along the King’s Cross stretch of Regent’s Canal has been made into a micro-distillery, with two bars and a restaurant. Not content with being the leading light of England’s wine-making scene (don’t laugh – our wine is booming!), Kent-based Chapel Down also has one foot in the gin world, making use of its grape stock in distillation.
Those who remember the sceney Filling Station, a restaurant and event space that occupied this canalside spot a few years back, will be stunned by the new corporate feel. But staff injected personality into the experience – they seemed up for a laugh but incredibly polite, to match the formal setting. Surfaces are shiny and seating in the upstairs bar – the plusher of the two, boasting an elaborate circular bar – is the deep scallop-shaped kind.
Given the look and the Kent ties, customers appeared older and many were dressed in suits. They knocked back G&Ts in glasses the size of their ruddy faces or Curious Brewery beer (Chapel Down’s other creation) by the bottle, but the cocktail list is exciting, putting Chapel Down’s wine, beer and gin to new use. A frothy Chardonnay Collins was an acquired taste, but the Last Minute mixed signature sparkling brut and sweet ‘nectar’ wine with Campari and plum bitters to great results.
Both bars share a menu, and downstairs you can enjoy drinks while gazing upon a large copper still named ‘Helga’. But she’s not actually producing any of that gin yet and shows no signs of doing so soon, slightly reinforcing the sense of a showroom. Perhaps it’s irrelevant, though. A two-tiered, water-facing terrace is so appealing, you’ll likely take your taste of Kent out there instead.