Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Ten of the best places to drink gin in the UK

Photo: Greg Hirson

The UK is currently going through Gin Craze take two. While this one isn't likely to nearly destroy the city of London like the pesky 18th century one, gin is the drink that shows no signs of slowing down. Despite warnings that the juniper bubble would burst, gin is stronger than ever. Craft distilleries are still popping up around the UK, as are the gin parlours to drink in. Here are ten of the best places around the UK to drink a great gin and tonic, try something new, or discover a new favourite cocktail.

The Old Bell Inn – Saddleworth, Lancashire

Photo: The Old Bell Inn

There are some pretty stupid Guinness World Records out there: the world’s fastest toilet, the largest collection of sick bags, and the most snails on a face to name a very small few. But one very worthy Guinness World Record belongs to the Old Bell Inn in Lancashire, for the most gins commercially available. There’s a ridiculous 430 of them, so it’s pretty likely you’ll be able to find something you’ve never tried before.

London Gin Club (The Star at Night) – Soho, London

Nestled in Soho, just off Oxford Street, is the perfect gin lovers’ retreat. With a friendly and relaxing atmosphere, great, knowledgeable staff, and of course, a lot of gin, it is my favourite place to lose an evening in London. Their gin taster menus change every month (four G+Ts with interesting garnishes), and are a great place to start, but they also offer a blind tasting menu, and an eight-gin flavour spectrum menu, taking you all the way from dry, to gin liqueur.

City of London Distillery/Cold Bar – Blackfriars, London

Photo: City of London Distillery

If drinking gin just isn’t enough for you these days, the Cold Bar at the City of London distillery could be the one for you. You can overlook the stills in a speakeasy-style bar, with the faint aroma of gin in the air. They have more than 200 gins on the menu, including their own City of London Dry Gin.

Graphic – Soho, London

Photo: Graphic Bar Instagram

While a lot of gin palaces may be going for the speakeasy/Victorian/general vintage vibe, Graphic has gone the other way. Along with a huge gin menu (more than 300), the bar is home to hand-crafted Bermondsey Tonic Water (it’s a very important part of your G+T), and a monthly gin social with free entry.

Portobello Star – Westbourne, London

Photo: Portobello Star

The Portobello Star is the home of Portobello Road gin. If drinking gin isn't enough for you anymore, you can book tickets to the 'Ginstitute' and learn about it too. You get a history lesson (well-oiled with plenty of gin), learn how gin is made, discover all the different botanicals, and create your own gin to take home. Of course, you can also just go and drink the huge amount of gin on offer.

The Jekyll & Hyde – Birmingham

Photo: Jekyll & Hyde

With a sumptuous Victorian feel, the gin parlour at the Jekyll & Hyde is the perfect hideout. Not only do they have around 90 gins on offer, the bar offers an ‘Eat Me Drink Me’ gin and food fusion menu that changes every month; a Mad Hatters Tea Party including gin flights if you’re feeling indecisive; and cocktail masterclasses.

Atlas – Deansgate, Manchester

Photo: Atlas

Anywhere that elevates gin to new heights is good in my book, so I naturally approve of Atlas bar’s ‘Gin Bible’. The bar stocks around 170 varieties, has helpful tasting notes, or very helpful staff if you want to talk to a real human being. And for those few and far between days when the sun is shining in Manchester, there’s a lovely sun terrace too.

Heads & Tales – Edinburgh

Photo: Heads & Tales

Head here to meet Flora and Caledonia, Edinburgh Gin’s two stills. Not only is the bar home to Edinburgh Gin, so you can watch a spot of distilling while you enjoy a (gin) cocktail or two, but the menu offers you the chance for some G.I.Y – gin it yourself, with a menu that changes weekly. Choose your glass, your gin, your flavour, drink & repeat.

The Potted Pig – Cardiff

Photo: The Potted Pig

Tucked away in some reconditioned bank vaults on the High Street in Cardiff, is the Potted Pig, especially good if you like some pork with your gin (other meats/non-meats are available). They have around 30 gins, organised into ‘London Dry’, ‘Floral’, ‘Fruity & Sweet’, and ‘Aromatic & Spicy’, and can help you find the perfect gin to accompany your meal.

Red Willow – Macclesfield

Photo: Red Willow Twitter

Perhaps best known for being a microbrewery serving a great range of beers, Red Willow also has a 50-strong gin menu, including several local offerings: Forest, Hunters, Dakin etc. As it’s known for both its beer and gin, it’s the perfect choice if you happen to be stuck with someone who doesn’t drink the good-juniper-stuff.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get round to every single gin palace/bar/parlour/hideaway in the UK yet, so I'm sure there will be one or two that I've missed out/yet to try. If you've got any recommendations as to where you've found the perfect G+T, let us know in the comments below.


  1. The Graphic Bar now claims 305 gins!

    1. Well that's considerably more than 80... thanks for pointing that out Mike, I'll update!

    2. Of course I haven't tried them all...

    3. ...But you're getting there : )?

    4. Probably still about 290 to go!

  2. I can highly recommend The Oliver Conquest on Leman St. just down the road from Aldgate East tube. They have around 300 gins and are very friendly, plus they have a dog! We used to live round the corner and only discovered it a couple of months before we moved out of London! ='o(

  3. Hi Adam. So sorry I'm just replying to this. I haven't heard of The Oliver Conquest before but it sounds great. I like gin, and I like dogs, so I will definitely be heading there soon! Thanks : ).
    I hope you've managed to find your gin fix elsewhere now that you've moved out of London.