Of All The Gin Joints? The London Gin Club

It’s well and truly Gin O’clock on the blog as we welcome our friends at The London Gin Club to talk about their really rather unique gin-palace themed cocktail bar. When I received an email approving my membership a couple of months ago, I was delighted to read the following:

The first rule of Gin Club is….Every night is Gin Club! Whilst we have specific gin related events, you can come to the bar (Star at Night) on any evening and drink wonderful gin in cocktails or in the perfect G&T.

Gin is one of those wonderfully restorative drinks you are constantly wanting to experiment with and try more of. I have certainly come a long way since tasting my first G&T when someone left one unattended in our kitchen when I was 8 and I look forward to many more nights at The Star at Night. If you are reading this and worried about your gin intake, don’t be, Julia Child is famously quoted as attributing her longevity to ‘Red meat and a bottle of gin” – she was 91 when she died and still with Julia Childs, when asked by a rather stiff sommelier what her favourite wine was? she replied, gin. Well I’m convinced….

Now, over to another Julia, to tell us all about The London Gin Club.

It was inevitable we at The Star at Night, a busy little cocktail bar, which has been here in Soho for 10 years, created The London Gin Club. For the past two years we have celebrated our birthday with a Gin Palace themed night and  both went down very well indeed. Our customers seemed to really enjoy exploring new gins and new tonics and have a desire to understand ( and taste)  the differences the current huge variety of gin has to offer. It dawned on us that we could create a club for people to come along, try new gins with new tonics or as a cocktail and get the chance to sample from a good variety of both..so in March we did just that. After gathering together as many good, top of the range gins we could we launched The London Gin Club. Joining the club is free and members receive benefits such as a discount on tasting menus, priority booking on special events , an allegiance card which gets a stamp every time they have a gin, (when its full..they get a free gin! ) a monthly news bulletin  about all things gin and nights dedicated to members where we are supported by gin brands and able to offer really good prices on gin drinks and cocktails. It’s very important to us that the club is customer focused so as well as offering a relaxed and friendly  gin drinking environment we  listen to our members and make sure we are offering as much choice as we can.

We currently have 60+ gins and keep a careful eye on what’s new and what’s being produced in the world of gin. We are quite discerning so we don’t offer every single gin that is available.  What we prefer is to add a couple to our menu every 2 weeks or so. We listen to our customers and most say how a 100 strong gin menu could be somewhat over whelming. So we keep it smaller, preferring quality over quantity and this seems to work. We have 2 tasting menus which are available all the time and change monthly. The idea is to offer 4 gins served  with Fever tree tonic  so our members can try them together and taste the differences between them, so the four gins for each tasting menu are very different on the flavour spectrum.

We include tasting notes  on our menu, so our guests a can see  which flavour category their gin fits into: dry, sweet, floral, savoury, citrus and so on.This helps our guests to choose their gin according to what type of flavour they prefer. We’ve learnt a lot since we started. Not least how hugely different people’s taste buds are and how important it is to offer a wide flavour spectrum of gins, cocktails and tonics .We have a gin cocktail menu which features classic recipes which we have selected from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Martini’s of course, a Gin Crusta, Tom Collins, Gin fizz, Martinez, French 75, gin smash..along with a few modern creations of our own. The cocktail list is about to be updated with some seasonal, wintery delights. Our G and T menu is what we’ve become known for. We look at each gin and establish which botanicals are the strongest and pair the garnish to compliment the flavour.  Our garnishes include olives, tomato, basil, coriander, orange peel, rhubarb, pomegranate, rose petals, fig and mint. These are not randomly chosen but carefully balanced to work with the gin flavours rather than overpower them. There would be no point putting an over bearing garnish into a fantastic gin and it ruin the flavour.

Obviously these garnishes are suggestions so if someone prefers something else they most certainly can do that. Our G & T ‘s are served in a large Balloon glass. This does so much for the gin itself, opening up the flavours of the botanical and allowing room for the tonic to lift the flavours and work with the garnish. The drink also stays colder longer and with the addition of our large chunks of hand cracked ice..we think we’re pretty close to the perfect G & T. We currently have 6 different tonics, ranging from the simple Schweppes, 3 different varieties of Fever tree and two Fentimans, which is a very botanical tonic. We always use single serve tonic to ensure its crisp, cold and very fizzy. There is nothing worse than having a really nice gin and dumping  syrupy , fake  hose pipe tonic into it. We suggest the best tonic serve with each gin but having said that… everyone is different and if our guests  want a massively flavoursome gin with a huge botanical tonic..so be it. So, hopefully you can tell the emphasis is all about quality and the enjoyment of gin and offering it in the best way we can for reasonable prices.  As we are all gin fans we appreciate a well made drink and believe it shouldn’t cost the earth.

In September we created our very own gin, 7 Dials. The intention here was to create a simple London dry gin that was of excellent quality and would work well in a G & T or a Martini. Just 7 botanicals in our gin make it smooth yet dry and  junipery…just what we wanted and feedback has been very good indeed. We will be officially launching it later this month  and members will be invited to our launch event.Although gin is our main focus, we still offer our range of classic cocktails, wines and champagnes for those non  gin drinking folk out there , and try to convert as much as we can!The London Gin Club at The Star at Night is open Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm. Non members are more than welcome and reserving a table is advisable.

The London Gin Club can be found on Twitter, Facebook and you can subscribe here to the blog.

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