Gin: it's the spirit of the summer. Small-batch distillers have cropped up across the capital in their droves to the point where everywhere you look you’ll see a G&T. London even has its own gin hotel now (praise be to the juniper gods). So if you’re full of ginthusiasm this summer, we asked nominees and winners from the Time Out London Bar Awards to mix us their most summery gin drink. Call it ginspiration for the months ahead.
Six of the best gin drinks in London
Gin, pistachio orgeat, jackfruit and basil syrup, lime
East London Liquor Company’s brand ambassador Mikey Pendergast describes Well Known Among Us as ‘kinda douchey’. What we think he means is: kinda genius. It’s a green take on a classic army and navy cocktail – traditionally gin, lemon and orgeat (almond) syrup – with pistachio and basil giving the drink its garden hue. If nature has taught us anything, it’s not to trust things that are green (see crocs and anacondas, mate). Add this tipple to the list, because you can hardly taste the booze among the camouflage of gorgeous nutty and savoury notes. The drink is finished with a mozzarella and parmesan foam popped on a basil leaf for a gooey amuse-bouche. Down in one, we say.
Gin, verjus, lemon, moscato, orange flower
‘But I ordered a cocktail,’ is the response the staff at Three Sheets get when they start pouring this little number from an innocent-looking prosecco bottle (hello, old friend). Very much a cocktail, French 75 is actually a science-y twist on the classic gin and champagne mix, served in a playful style. Instead of adding champers, Three Sheets makes a house-carbonated gin drink using verjus (a French sort-of-sour grape juice from the Middle Ages) and staff serve it from the bottle at the bar. Great for gin lovers, great for the unconverted; this citrussy tipple is heavy on the juniper but light on other botanicals. Once you pop, you won’t stop.
£7 (or £35 a bottle)
Gin, Campari, sweet vermouth
Meet Bar Termini’s bestseller. It’s a negroni, but not as we know it. The Italian-themed venue’s take on the Florentine drink is elegance distilled. The ruby-red bevvy is served chilled in a teeny glass (so you can order several?) instead of over ice; this prevents any dilution, giving you a killer drink from start to finish. Termini cooks the ingredients sous vide (in one of those low-temperature water baths you see on ‘MasterChef’) to replicate the bottle-ageing process, which adds a mellowness you won’t get when it’s mixed fresh. Basically, it slips down like silk undies in a music video for a ’90s slow jam. What else would you expect from Time Out’s Bar of the Year?
Dulse-infused gin, Amaro Montenegro, cauliflower Cocchi Americano
In the past, the best way to devour a cauli was to bury it under melted cheese. Now, it seems it’s all about adding it to our favourite summer spirit. At Bethnal Green’s Peg + Patriot – winner of Most Creative Drinks List at the Time Out Bar Awards – they’ve taken a blowtorch to leftover cauliflower from the kitchen of sister restaurant Typing Room and have used it to infuse a cocktail that tastes pungent yet smooth and savoury. There’s probably about a floret in each glass, so it could be good for you too. Maybe? The gin is infused with dulse seaweed for added pong. It’s a light, white negroni-style drink that may be divisive, but we say delicious. No cheese necessary.
Banana- and coconut-infused gin, crème de cacao liqueur, acqua di cedro liqueur, coconut water
The Connaught’s bar is famed for its gin martinis, so Tip of the Iceberg is set to surprise. The cocktail looks like a drink James Bond would order but it tastes like the jungle. The tropical twist is provided by coconut oil and dried banana, which add layers of cool flavour so forceful they could sink ships. Appropriate, since the drink is finished with an ice cube shaped like a full-bling diamond, giving the illusion of an iceberg floating in an ocean of mother’s ruin. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, right? Wrong, that’d be gin.
Gin, grapefruit liqueur, grapefruit marmalade, hop bitters, tonic
Don’t worry, despite the fishbowls of booze GinTonica serves, it’s a million miles from a Magaluf superclub. The bar is Spanish-leaning, though. It serves souped-up G&Ts known as Gin & Tonic Pluses in copas de balón (goblet-style glassware). Portobello Road Gin 171 is our fave, using the house gin and a blue tonic to make it look like a pimped WKD. GinTonica packs in garnishes in the Spanish style too, from wedges of grapefruit to dried hops – to the point that staff describe it as a ‘gin salad’. Now that’s a salad we can get behind. Five a day, yeah?
Find more extraordinary drinks in London
Fancy a drink with a twist? In London, creative bar teams go above and beyond just a run-of-the-mill twist, creating the most dazzling drinks that have to be seen to be believed. We’ve rounded up the most bonkers cocktails in the capital so you can get your quirky drink on.