The world’s finest gin bars
As the popularity of gin continues to grow, establishments from San Francisco to Wellington are cropping up to cater for connoisseurs, writes Kate Powell.
Home to two bars – The Restroom and Gintonica – this building is a four-floor mecca dedicated to gin on Portobello Road, offering guest rooms and a topfloor dining room. However, the bar is most proud of its blending experience, the ‘Ginstitute’, a museum dedicated to the rich history of the spirit. Its menu is designed by master distiller Jake Burger, the man behind Portobello Road Gin.
Parkview Square’s lobby bar is a gilded ode to the excess of Art Deco. Standing over the plush, velvet seating and lamp-lit tables is Atlas’ collection of 1000-plus bottles of gin (one of the largest in the world), displayed in an Instagram-worthy three-storey tower that climbs to the painted ceiling. Try the Gin Tonica, a grapefruit-accented floral update on the G&T, or the punchy Atlas Martini.
This bar has established itself as one of Edinburgh’s best and is renowned for its creative gin cocktails — although you’ll have to find its discreet Queen Street entrance first. In a repertoire that will satisfy traditional and adventurous connoisseurs alike, a range of gins are partnered with seasonal berries and fruit syrups, showcasing the establishment’s exceptional handle on the sweeter side of things.
Making its debut in January 2019, this chic bar is hiding two personalities: by day, a refined tea house; by night, a quirky and discerning establishment specialising in in a covetable array of this diverse spirit. On the ground floor of the Astral Hotel, guests will be illuminated by immersive screens lit up with fireflies as they taste-test everything from classic gin martinis to daring new fusions after sundown. If you’re equally drawn to the fruits of both day and night, innovative “Tea-Tails” include the Green Tea Mojito and the Passionfruit Green Tea Whiskey.
Discover a collection of over 140 gins in the 1940s-style cocktail lounge at InterContinental Sydney Double Bay. Your drink of choice will be mixed to perfection, but it’s not just the beverages extolling the virtues of gin; a unique dining experience infuses gin into botanical-inspired dishes designed to complement your cocktail.
This Spanish speakeasy is host to an array of gin cocktails but, as the name suggests, pays special homage to the classic martini. Knowledgeable staff in crisp tuxedos serve cocktails in a setting of leather, wood and brass reminiscent of classic British cocktail bars, while decor pays a stunning tribute to the spirit, with every surface showcasing antique gin bottles and other memorabilia.
Sink into a barrel-inspired booth and sample the wares of Sydney’s first distillery, opened in 1853. Set in Rosebery’s The Cannery, the bar at Archie Rose showcases its own range of gins, vodkas and single-malt whiskies, distilled and aged on site, as well as a rotation of spirits from around the world in copper-accented industrial surrounds.
Just five minutes outside Brisbane’s CBD, enjoy sophistication without snobbery in Fortitude Valley. Here, knowledgeable staff bring quality drinks to the masses and even offer cocktail master classes. Its key inspiration is the invention of the gin and tonic in the late 19th century, although its repertoire also boasts adventurous contemporary concoctions.
This tribute to Melbourne’s gold rush era indulges in the history of mother’s ruin amid velvet drapes and lounges. Its selection of gin is served up until 3am in a disreputable style consistent with the historical context of Australian bars. Discerning drinkers travel far and wide to indulge in its signature martinis, which are still made in the same way today as they were upon its opening over 20 years ago.
Adorned with velvet couches, low wood tables and bursts of natural greenery, this sophisticated West Broadway bar is named for a storied late 19th-century British Officers Club in Myanmar. Lead mixologist Audrey Saunders exhibits her mastery of the craft with juices and ingredients to create a wide range of blends, giving fresh twists to both modern and time-tested fine gins that are sure to delight.
Featuring a collection of over 40 international gins, this onboard bar is a testament to the classic luxury of Cunard’s Queens. Expert mixologists will assist you in selecting the ‘perfect serve’ of mixers and garnish for your gin of choice. A standout is Cunard’s collaboration with Pickering’s Gin to create its exclusive 3 Queens Gin cocktail menu.
Undertake expert tuition in the Gin Safari experience, where a master class on gin, botanicals and tonics, plus a cocktail tasting, is bound to give you a new appreciation of the spirit’s lively history. This Covent Garden establishment will take you on a gin-themed journey of the globe and, at last count, is home to an estimated nine million G&T variations.
This rooftop gin bar opened in February this year, honouring Melbourne’s architectural history perched atop a beautiful 1891 structure. Its heritage brickwork and century-old rafters have been preserved in the renovations to build the new rooftop bar – decorated with a range of free-growing plants such as juniper and lemon myrtle, which love the open-air setting just as much as you will.
In the era of prohibition, producers of illicit gin in the USA used the steeping powers of the humble bathtub to mix grain alcohol with flavourful ingredients such as juniper berries to mask the taste. It is from these origins that the Chelsea bar gets its name. The menu features cocktails that uphold tradition while exploring adventurous compositions, which can be enjoyed into the wee hours.
Through a hidden entrance, this bar prides itself on a range of classics ranging from the 1920s all the way to some sleek modern cocktails. Rumour has it the best cocktail experiences on offer are those not on the menu, but rather made for you exclusively once a member of the knowledgeable staff has gauged your unique personality and taste through conversation.
Lovingly referred to as the “alcohol library”, this upscale bar showcases gin through the ages, accompanied by its house-made tonic. You’ll discover the local treasures of Tasmanian spirits in an exhibition of small distilleries for which the bar is renowned. An impressive range of international masterpieces is nestled among its vast shelves, and private guided spirit tastings are also available.
Step into an abandoned 19th-century East London Underground station at this historical fantasy within the Art Deco Embassy Hotel. Whitechapel’s 600-plus gin collection is said to be the largest in North America and its menu is a whimsical walk through the spirit’s history. The bar is also home to the Polk Street Irregulars Gin Drinking Club, a secret society that celebrates the diversity of gin.
Venture beyond a mysterious door in an actual barber shop on York Street in the CBD to discover this secret, sophisticated hideaway. Serving more than 350 gins, including rare Dutch Genevers, its cocktail menu is cleverly curated to demonstrate the ‘sweet’, the ‘fruity’ and the ‘sour’ faces of gin. A professional grooming at the hands of the Master Barbers is optional at this small bar.
Although tiny, this bar is a temple to all things gin; hidden within its walls you’ll find one of the largest collections of this botanical spirit in Greece, and an exceptional mastery of the Negroni. It is the creativity and innovation of its mixologists that showcases the variety of its collection, calling on their knowledge to give guidance on which tonic is naturally sparkling, or which gin best suits your tastes.
This article appeared in volume 29 of Signature Luxury Travel & Style. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.