Vines and flowers cascading from the ceiling make a pretty centrepiece at this gin and tapas bar on Exmouth Market. But get close to the hanging baskets and you’ll realise the plantlife is plastic. Thankfully, the booze is the real deal at this bar. It's a follow-up to GinTonica, a Spanish-themed spot on the first floor of Notting Hill’s ‘gin hotel’, The Distillery. Both are run by the team behind Portobello Road Gin, and here they’ve brought across the copper still that their gin was first made in, installing her in the basement.
Spanish tiling feels a bit half-arsed, with the entrance and bar area looking the best dressed. The same owners ran a tequila joint here previously, and not much has been done to change the look. It’s a shame – the Mediterranean guise at sister bar GinTonica is much more considered. Staff were shaky until we found a waiter who knew the menu inside out and wasn’t afraid to tell us which dishes to ditch when selecting from a lunchtime tapas deal of two dishes and a side for £13.95.
Of those dishes, forget the estupendos, a soft duck egg nesting in a bed of over-seasoned kale, but do order the arroz con calamares, great for soaking up gigantic gin drinks. They’re this bar’s signature tipple – called a Gin & Tonic Plus – served in copa de balon glassware and enhanced with vibrant, fragrant garnishes. For anybody who’s been riding the wave of London’s current gin craze, these should stand out from all those other G&Ts. The Nginious Summer Gin was amped up with strawberry vermouth, bitters and pink peppercorn tonic, then dressed with basil, black pepper and fresh strawberries. Take your G&T+ to a seat on the market stretch and act like you’re in Las Ramblas.