Who wins in the gin postcode lottery?

In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a gin that captures the spirit of every point on London’s compass. We have Sacred, hand-distilled in Highgate representing the north; the controversial coconut and grapefruit Hoxton Gin styling it out for the east; Jensen Bermondsey Gin putting SE1 firmly on the map and Sipsmith Gin produced in small batches from a garage in west London.

And each is as different in taste as it is in attitude.

We asked four of the best bars in the capital to devise a cocktail using the gin either created in or inspired by their postcode and we judged them on originality, taste and downright sassiness. Here are the results
(Taken from Issue 1 of The Cocktail Lovers Magazine

North

Marcis’s Sacred Martinez

Marcis Dzelzainis, 69 Colebrooke Row, N1 8AA. T: 07540 528 598. 69colebrookerow.com
Using Sacred Gin: (40% ABV, RRP £28.95) sacredspiritscompany.com
Launched: 2009
Botanicals: 12 including cardamom, nutmeg, juniper, fresh orange and lemons.
What’s the story? Hand-distilled under a low temperature from Ian Hart’s kitchen table in Highgate to create a modern version of the old traditional London Dry gin. The name comes from Bosewellia Sacra (aka Frankincense), one of the key botanicals used.

Sacred Martinez
40ml Sacred Gin
20ml Sacred Sweet Vermouth
2.5ml Suze d’Autrefois
3 dashes Orange Bitters
Small orange twist to garnish

Marcis says:

I really admire what Ian is doing, which is taking quintessentially French products like vermouth and  absinthe and recreating them with a British twist. Ian’s products are not mere imitations of other drinks but they stand out as being new and innovative. As such I used a very classic drink (usually made with Italian vermouth) and gave it a twist to highlight the quality of Ian’s products. I wanted a unique and slightly eccentric drink, both of which I associate with Ian and also Britain”.

Ms S says:

A beautifully balanced drink that showcases the Sacred gin and vermouth to perfection. Smart, sophisticated and quietly confident, like the pocket of London it hails from”.

Mr G says:

The cocktail, like the gin itself, gently oozes an understated confidence that echoes its surroundings. It’s also absolutely delicious”.

South

Paolo’s Bermondsey Martini

Paolo Tonellotto, Hide Bar, 39-45 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3XF. T: 020 7403 6655. thehidebar.com
Using Jensen Bermondsey Gin: (43% ABV, RRP £25) bermondseygin.com
Launched: 2008
Botanicals: Including coriander, orris root, sweet almond, liquorice, angelica.
What’s the story? Christian Jensen’s homage to the heavier, more aromatic tasting London Dry gins from the 1800s. As he lives in Bermondsey, he named his creation after the area.

Bermondsey Martini
60ml Bermondsey Gin
10ml Noilly Prat
Twist of lemon
Stir the Bermondsey Gin and Noilly Prat over plenty of ice. Pour into a Martini glass. Peel the lemon twist over the drink to release oils, then drop in.

Paolo says:

You can’t beat the Martini as a cool aperitif and the Bermondsey Gin gives it just the right feel – high quality, accessible to everyone but not too fussy, just like Bermondsey Street.”

Ms S says:

This part of London is renowned for its history and heritage so this no-messing, classic recipe works well, bringing out the clean, crisp characteristics of the gin”.

Mr G says:

I like the way this beautiful gin slips effortlessly into place in this classic drink, mixing things up nicely in the same way the area also creatively assimilates the old and new”.

East

Garden Spring Collins by Gerry Calabrese

Gerry Calabrese, Hoxton Pony, 104-108 Curtain Road, EC2A 3AH. T: 020 7613 2844. thehoxtonpony.com
Using Hoxton Gin
(43% ABV, RRP £27.95) hoxtongin.com
Launched:
2011
Botanicals: Coconut, grapefruit, juniper, iris, tarragon, ginger.
What’s the story? Hello, did you not see those first two ingredients? Purists are up in arms about calling anything with such a dominant coconut/grapefruit combo a gin but the locals don’t seem to mind – it’s as feisty as they are.

Garden Spring Collins
50ml Hoxton Gin
20ml elderflower cordial
20ml rhubarb puree
20ml lemon juice
10ml sugar syrup
Top with soda water
Shake and strain first five ingredients into a 14oz Highball glass. Top with soda water and garnish with a lemon wedge and mint sprig.

Gerry says:

The recipe is classic, it’s the gin that’s controversial – it’s modern, free-spirited and fun. This area is full of creative types who wouldn’t ever drink traditional gin so we created something as original as they are.”

Ms S says:

The coconut gives this traditional recipe a tropical vibe; it’s put together to be noticed – just like those Hoxton hipsters”.

Mr G says:

Both the gin and the drink nod towards the past while being refreshingly original – a very apt creation for the era”.

West

Jake Burgher and his Prudence is a Virtue

Jake Burgher, Portobello Star, 171 Portobello Road, W11 2DY. T: 020 7229 8016, portobellostarbar.co.uk
Using Sipsmith Gin (41.6% ABV, RRP £27.49) sipsmith.com.
Launched: 2008
Botanicals: Ten including juniper berries, coriander seed, angelica root, liquorice root, orris root and cinnamon.
What’s the story? Produced in genuinely small batches (500 at a time) from Prudence, the first copper-pot still in London since 1820. The ‘sipsmiths’ are Fairfax Hall, Sam Galsworthy and Jared Miller.

Prudence Is A Virtue
37.5ml Sipsmith Gin
15ml Sipsmith Summer Cup
15ml egg white
20ml fresh lemon juice
12.5ml sugar syrup
2 small pieces of cucumber
4 drops of Bob’s Bitters Abbots
Dry shake ingredients to emulsify the egg white, then cold shake with ice. Strain into a coupette, straight up. Top with four drops of Bob’s Bitters Abbotts.

Jake says:

This is a drink with roots – classically structured like the antiques market along the road but with a modern touch from the Summer Cup that reflects the spirit of the area”.

Ms S says:

Like its neighbours there’s style and complexity in this drink – nice and tart with a hint of gingerbread-like sweetness”.

Mr G says:

Sometimes you can’t put your finger on why you enjoy something, you just do. That’s what I like about this drink and this area.

The winner:

Sacred Martinez by Marcis Dzelzainis at 69 Colebrooke Row. 

We couldn’t end without…

…a bow to the don, Beefeater, the oldest, most revered gin in the capital. Created by former pharmacist James Burrough in 1876 and named after the guards who protect the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London, the recipe is now in the careful hands of Master Distiller Desmond Payne. Recent additions to the portfolio include Beefeater 24 and limited Summer Edition, Winter Edition and London Market gins. An all-round favourite. (40% ABV, RRP £15.99) beefeatergin.com

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