It’s official. London gin is amazing.
London gin makes a top tipple. Photo: Natalé Towell.
Britons are buying record amounts of the botanical beauty. 73 million bottles were sold in 2018 thanks to nation’s 361 distilleries behind the ‘ginaissance.’ Due to an ease in licensing laws, Britain is now full of distillers who know their coriander from their angelica to bring you some of the best gins in the world. Whether you want it short, long, sweet or sour, gin’s strong botanical flavour makes it the perfect base for a refreshing cocktail.
Here are five beautifully easy go-to London gin cocktails that are so simple, you’ll be whipping them up all sunny season long.
1. Perfect Bermondsey Gin and Tonic
Of course, let’s not forget an essential tipple for any drinker’s repertoire – the classic G&T. BTW Tonic Water is hand-crafted in Bermondsey to a traditional Victorian recipe in a natural process. Dismayed by the overpowering taste of most commercial tonics, founders Nick Crispini and Lawrence Mason decided go about making their own.
“Did you know it’s a myth that tonic water is meant to be clear?”, Lawrence says. “The reality is that the the majority of drink companies use a solvent extract of quinine to give tonic an unnaturally clear appearance. But not us. Our BTW is crafted using 100% raw and natural quinine from South American Cinchona bark, allowing its beautiful amber hue to shine through.” Pair with Jensen’s Old Tom Gin, also made round the corner in Bermondsey near Maltby Street market.
Jensen’s Old Tom’s earthy notes complement the cinchona in any good tonic, especially the well rounded and crisp BTW. Don’t expect ridiculously sweet tonic, this herbal and almost savoury tonic is the real deal. Or try with Square Root London’s wonderfully unique Artemisia tonic that’s woody and fruity with a crisp finish.
Chill the tonic water before serving. Mix the ingredients over ice.
2. Grapefruit & Thyme Gin
The award-winning small batch distillery Sipsmith was born out of co-founder Sam Galsworthy’s ambition ‘to make gin the way it used to be’. When it opened in 2009, it was London’s first copper distillery to open for 189 years, paving the way for a new appreciation of gin-making in the capital. British liqueur company Stellacello is the brainchild of Bethnal Green artisan alchemist Joe Stella. His persistent experimentation led to the creation of a distinctive grapefruit Pompelmo Liqueur that’s a twist on the classic Italian Limoncello.
The zesty aromas and subtle tartness of the Stellacello are a great match for the floral, summer meadow notes and citrus freshness of Sipsmith’s London Dry Gin.
Stir the gin, thyme, liqueur and lime juice in a cocktail shaker with a little ice. Strain into a cut glass half-filled with ice cubes. Top up with Fever Tree tonic water and garnish with a sprig of thyme and a slice of fresh grapefruit.
3. Battersea Gin Sour
Battersea’s The London Distillery Company found its feet thanks to a round of successful crowdfunding in 2011. The botanicals and base spirit in their Dodd’s Gin are 100% organic, but their eco-credential don’t stop there. The honey – one of eight botanicals including angelica root, fresh lime peel, bay laurel and green cardamom – is collected from the local London Honey Company, and heat energy from distillation is recovered and reused.
Fragrant with juniper, angelica and plenty of heat from the cardamom, the botanicals of this big flavourful gin are set off by fresh lemon and undercut by a little sweetness from sugar.
– 50ml Dodd’s Gin
– 25ml lemon Juice
– 33 tsp egg white
– 25ml Gomme (sugar) syrup
Put all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake hard. Add ice and shake hard again. Strain and serve in a coupe or martini glass.
Tip: Making your own sugar syrup is easy. Simply stir equal volumes of sugar and water together. Gently heat in a saucepan until just dissolved. Store any not used in an airtight container or bottle the fridge for up to 4 weeks.
4. English Garden Fizz
If you’re lucky enough to be surrounded by elderflower trees or know a good foraging spot, try making your own elderflower cordial at the height of their season in June. Trim the stalks off 20 elderflower heads, remove any obvious little creatures and gently rinse. Add to a large pan or jug with the pared rind of 2 lemons. In another pan, gently heat 600g of sugar with 1 litre of water until the sugar has dissolved. Pour over the flowers and lemon. Allow to cool, add the juice of 2 lemons and leave for 6 hours. Strain and store in sterilised jars for up four weeks.
The juniper notes of any good gin will sing alongside the delicate floral notes of elderflower. Light, refreshing and a little creamy, this tipple will see you through many a summer BBQ.
– 50ml East London Liquor Company London Dry Gin
– 100ml Prosecco
– 50ml soda water
– 25ml elderflower cordial, try Natasha at The Urban Cordial Company’s, handmade in London with surplus British fruit
Chill Prosecco and soda water. If you’re a keen bean, keep your gin in the freezer. Pour the gin and elderflower into a flute glass, top with soda and Prosecco. Garnish with a sprig of fresh elderflower (if it’s June).
5. Cucumber & Mint Gimlet
A gimlet is a cocktail simply made of gin and lime juice. A 1928 text described the drink as “gin, a spot of lime, and soda” (D. B. Wesson, I’ll Never be Cured III). Its name sounds like a drink of yore, swished across the floor Victorian drinking dens, piqued by the novel and exotic lime fruit. Warning: it’s dangerously easy to make and drink.
Jensen’s Bermondsey Dry Gin is smooth with delicate floral and citrus notes. An ideal foil for gin’s classic partner in sippable crime, cucumber and mint.
– 60 ml Jensen’s Bermondsey Dry Gin
– 15 ml lime juice
– 10 ml gomme (sugar) syrup
– 10 mint leaves
– 20g cucumber, halved & quartered
Muddle the cucumber, mint and sugar syrup in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice, pour in the gin and lime. Shake hard. Strain into a martini or coupe glass.
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This article was originally published in June 2017 and has since been updated.