It’s at The Distillery, on Portobello Road in trendy Notting Hill. Hands down best. Not the kind of gin and tonic with the anemic slice of lime that you you find at summer cocktail parties. Oh no, not here.
Here, gin is an art form with over a hundred brands on hand from around the world and a dozen or so different tonic waters and curated garnishes paired to enhance its flavor and aroma.
My ‘gin-perience’ began at The Distillery’s unique gin bar, Gintonica….
An innocent abroad, I was, so bartender and gin afficiantdo Stuart Hudson suggested starting out with The Distillery’s signature gin, the Portobello 171, mixed with Fever-Tree Indian tonic and garnished with grapefruit and juniper berries. No more lime wedges for me.
Note the large globe glass. Here, gin and tonics are served in the Spanish tradition in a “copa de balon” – accommodating nearly 2 oz (50 ml) of gin with a carefully chosen tonic and garnishes to suit….
This is not just mixology; it’s an art form. Here is a selection of some of the The Distillery’s featured concoctions, including my ‘engine starter.’
I was then ready to venture into more exotic territory. But where to begin, when you’re looking at literally hundreds of options?
Good fortune intervened in the form of some young Spanish tourists looking for a particular Galician gin – Ginabelle, distilled from green grapes. I had to try it.
Stuart combined Ginabelle with Merchant’s Heart hibiscus tonic…..
And garnished with green grapes and slivers of green apples….
For the most refreshing – and the prettiest – most delicious, un-gin like gin and tonic…..
It was gin alchemy; pure magic.
I enjoyed most of it at the bar, but wanting to savor, I took the remainder to my room.
Did I mention?
In the grand tradition of British pubs The Distillery offers lodging if you’re lucky enough to snag one of the 3 rooms.
A lovely, sleekly designed accomodation including, of course, a complimentary decanter of gin in the fridge, the signature brew on the desk, and all the fixings for a nightcap.
The Distillery takes its gin seriously, clearly, and it’s not just about mixing with tonic/s. There is a full ‘gin and tonic plus’ menu, as well as assorted cocktails that will make any connoisseur swoon. Here’s but a sampling from the extensive GT Pluslist, but of course you’re free to experiment…..
The Distillery is part gin emporium, part educational experience at the Ginstitute, and part gastro-pub, passionately influenced by Basque cuisine. It’s worth the trip just for a delightful dinner and accompanying wine list, as carefully compiled as the gin offerings.
The Ginstitute, wherein the students concoct their own gin recipie using aromatics and under the watchful tutledge of Distillery experts, looks like true fun.
The 3 -hour session starts with a gin and tonic (of course), followed by a Tom Collins, and then on to the history of gin. Assuming you’re still awake, you are guided through the process of blending of your own bespoke brew to take along with you.
The secret of your craft will be stored on The Distillery’s data base for future retrieval.
If you go, here’s a bit of vocabulary you may find useful:
1. gin-luscious – any drink served at The Distillery
2. gin-tensive – the passion of The Distillery
3. gin-titude – the mindset of The Distillery
4. gin-up – you’re paying for drinks.
Please let us know in the comments section below if you’ve visited The Distillery or have any questions….
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