Cocktails – like clothes – go in and out of fashion. But there are certain staples (the little black dress, white shirts, chinos) that always prevail. And although gin has had somewhat of a renaissance in later years, a classic G&T has remained such a staple since its invention in the mid- 17th century.
The below London restaurants both honour and take inspiration of the proud traditions of gin and tonics – enjoy.
If there are two words put together we like the sound of better than gin and tonic, it must be gin and trolley. The influential hotchpotch that is The Cinnamon Club adds to its fantastic food offering with some of the best G&Ts in town. The trolley is wheeled around the restaurant by the expert bartenders, who will be creating your gin and tonic tableside, leaving you free to select your own tonic and garnishes.
How much? From £10
The new martini lounge of the Great Northern Hotel in St Pancras International is a swanky place for a cocktail, where you’ll be equally impressed by the interiors as by the G&Ts. With a choice of 13 different variations, you can opt for whatever combo you prefer. Our top choice would be either the Tanqueray 10 served with a grapefruit wheel and a pinch of salt, or the Gin Mare with fresh thyme, lemon zest and dried mango.
How much? From £11.50
Scarfes Bar, The Rosewood London hotel’s bar, is perhaps where you think the best G&T would be served around these premises, but we’re here to tell you that it is, in fact, in the hotel’s main restaurant’s Gin Bar. The Martin Brudnizki-designed, Holborn Dining Room, with its copper-topped bar, is incredibly sophisticated and sleek – perfect for some G&T indulgence. It also offers more than 14,000 possible gin and tonic pairings, so it really is a gin lover’s paradise. If forced to have just one (we know, it’s a hardship), we would go for the Audemus Pink Pepper made with hand-picked peppercorns and other botanicals like juniper, vanilla, tonka bean, cinnamon, honey and cardamom. It’s complemented with the new London Essence Pomelo & Pink Pepper Tonic.
How much? From £14
The London Gin Club claims to have found “The Perfect Gin and Tonic”. It’s not unlikely, though, with a whole bar dedicated to the stuff. On its website, it says that “after much trial and error, we think we know quite a bit about what makes the perfect G&T… the gin, the tonic, the ice, the garnish, even the glass, and its temperature”. This has resulted in a drink served in a Copa glass with frozen and cracked ice (basically very, very, very cold and very, very dry), an individually paired garnish, three fourths of the drink filled with bespoke tonic water, and of course – the very best gins. You simply have to try it, don’t you?
How much? From £9.50
Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour, Covent Garden
When you rock up at a place that boasts a collection of more than 150 different gins, as well as a plethora of botanicals and tonics, you’d expect to get a decent G&T served. Thankfully, you do. From known-favourites to the rarer, more unexplored gin types, there’s scope to try spiced, flavoured, citrus-infused and dry gins. The room is also decorated with obscure trinkets and artefacts (perfect for Instagram), and there are various experiences to choose from. G&Tea anyone? Or what about a gin tasting? It’s all there.
How much? From £13
If you’re on the hunt for the outmost luxury as well as a good gin & tonic, look no further than The Connaught Bar (inside the effortlessly glamorous The Connaught hotel). The shimmering David Collins-designed space will entice you, but so will its G&T, which is conjured up by some of the world’s best bartenders. What is more, it’s made using The Connaught’s own gin. Have it alongside some posh nosh (AKA bar snacks), as they serve up the likes of caviar canapés and small bites.
How much? £23
ELLC doesn’t just specialise in gin, but also rum and vodka. Its gin cocktails are priceless, though. Made with London Dry Gin, yuzu juice, crème de menthe and sparkling mead, the Spring In My Step is a fresh little number. So not a straight-up G&T as such, but still worth the visit. The distillery looks perfectly gritty and East London as well – brick walls, wooden floors and marble tables.
How much? £11
The gin cocktails at this uber-cool E8 hangout are uber-good. Small twists are given to the classics and our favourite would have to be the Martello, made with Martello Hall’s home-made gin, Fever-Tree tonic, a lemon and lime rind ice ball, orange and mint. It’s refreshing, served ice cold, and full of citrusy flavour – it looks the part, too. The Hackney isn’t bad either, made with East London Liquor Company’s batch 2 over-proofed gin, Square Root Artemisia tonic, tarragon and lemon. Take it all in alongside late-night DJs and comfort food, served in the New York-styled diner.
How much? From £11
The Library Bar at The Ned, tucked in-between this hot-spot hotel’s many dining destinations, serves a cocktail which is their take on a G&T. It’s called ‘Rusty Tonic’ and is made with Star of Bombay gin, tonic cordial and passion fruit kombucha – top marks for trendiness. The intimate bar is accessed through a pair of heavy theatre curtains and the walls are – naturally – lined with old books. It’s a quiet space compared to the hustle and bustle of the dining hall, allowing you to fully take in the wonders of the Rusty Tonic.
How much? £16
The Premium gin and tonics at tapas joint Camino are served with a Spanish twist; large glass (we like), large measure (we love), lots of ice and funky garnishes. Using only Fever-Tree tonic, Camino's drinks have a crisp and refreshing flavour. For an ultimate Catalonian experience, we would go for the 5th Gin Fire – produced in Barcelona, it colours your drink pink (from its infusion of red fruits, blackberries and blueberries) and is served with Fever-Tree Aromatic Tonic and berries.
How much? £11
Brace yourselves – we have tracked down another gin trolley and this time it's bottomless! It’s at the beautiful Swan, at Shakespeare’s Globe with its epic views of St Paul's. The trolley experience is a perfect way to round off a meal or kick off a party, allowing you to construct your own favourite gin tipple. Choose between a range of gins (staples such as Bombay Sapphire and Hendrick’s Gin are there alongside lesser-known – but equally exciting – brands) before adding your tonic. Garnishes include the likes of cucumber ribbons, peppercorns or berries, for the ultimate look. Still a gin novice? There’s a G&T menu available to peruse.
How much? £15+VAT per person for 1 hour of free-flowing gin
When restaurant group D&D immaculately restored the former German Gymnastics Society’s building in 2015, it also coined its signature G&T – the German Gym and Tonic. Not only do we love a pun, but we love a quality gin and tonic too, which, thankfully, the restaurant delivers. As with anything here, it’s given a German spin, so expect a symphony of flavours from Tanqueray gin, elderflower cordial and tonic water mixed with grapefruit and chardonnay.
How much? £11.00
This haute modern Indian restaurant in Mayfair is mostly renowned for having some of the best Indian grub in town (we gave it a Gold Award), but it also has a fine selection of pink gins. What pink-loving millennials might not know, though, is that bitters (the basis of the pink colour) was a popular drink of the British in India – how’s that for being ahead of time? Gymkhana’s cocktails honour this tradition, as well as showcase Indian spices and botanicals. All five options are served with fruit and tonic, but we can assure you the Classic Pink won’t disappoint; Fords gin (with its hints of grapefruit and coriander seeds) is finished with Angostura Bitters and Indian lime leaf.
How much? £12
A neat selection of British gins are on offer here with the menu telling you exactly what garnish will be served with each gin. You then have the choice between a range of tonics, including the classic Indian; pink grapefruit and bergamot; as well as elderflower and cucumber; and rosemary and black olive. Fazed by the choice? Don’t worry, the knowledgeable bartenders will gladly give recommendations. On warm days, bring your cocktail outside on the charming terrace and watch the peaceful life of the canal go by.
How much? From £6.20
Heading for a cocktail in a department store might not be your idea of a classy affair, but then again, not many department stores are as epic as Selfridges. And not many department store restaurants have a giant (we’re talking 30ft wingspan) Damien Hirst sculpture of Pegasus dangling from the ceiling, either. Caprice Holdings’ latest opening has just that, as well as a wicked Wild G&T. Made with Glendalough Wild Botanical Irish Gin and Fever-Tree Aromatic Tonic, its unfussy presentation lets the flavours speak for themselves.
How much? £11.50