Portobello Road Gin couldn’t have come up with a better concept for the height of London’s second gin craze (the first was the less salubrious Hogarth-era one). Close to the Portobello Star – their original spot – they’ve launched The Distillery, a fully equipped ‘gin hotel’. Its ground floor bar, The Resting Room – gimmick-free, and dressed in classy oak and red leather – was far from relaxing on our Sunday night visit, a cavalcade of kids and barking dogs competing for attention. We sat up at the bar and spotted the USP: barrels ‘resting’ up above, various dark spirits (not gin at all) maturing within. Unfortunately, the staff were too busy gossiping to explain the concept in detail.
After nabbing an apologetic barman, we were rustled up some brilliant cocktails: a reviving Red Snapper (a gin-based bloody mary using Portobello Road’s own batch, naturally) and an original Sherry Cobbler Zapatero Del Dia, pineapple-based and made using aged sherry from the barrels above. I loved it.
Ginthusiasts may be disappointed that this isn’t a pure gin experience, but the concept is cool and, if the staff can up their game, it’ll be a winner. Until then, The Resting Room feels just a little like it’s resting on its laurels.