The first distillery in the City for 200 years, City of London Distillery has a unique bar that will leave you with a new or improved passion for gin.
The City of London Distillery (or COLD for short) opened in November 2012 and is the first working distillery within the City for over 200 years. Just off Fleet Street and down Bride Lane, COLD looks unassuming from the outside, but don’t let this fool you. Inside in the large basement the distillery stills sit behind a bomb-proof glass and are rightly the focal point for the room – they look stunning. The long bar sits directly opposite and there is plenty of seating. Tucked into the corners are cosy sofas, creating a more intimate atmosphere.
While it isn’t incredibly busy, you get the sense that this is a true London find waiting to be discovered. The large basement bar gets fuller with young professionals who work in the area as the night progresses, but there are still plenty of tables free. The staff are incredibly friendly and charismatic, and with the owners around you really get a sense that they know what they are talking about. This would be the perfect place for a first date to impress, but is equally good for catching up with a group of friends or colleagues after work.
The owners are keen to emphasise that this is a working distillery, so tours are offered every day from 12pm to 3pm in order to show visitors how gin and vodka is produced. Master classes are also available from Monday to Thursday, 6.30pm, and can be tailored to the individual. Corporate events can also be arranged.
As expected, gin cocktails dominate the menu. Side-by-side with a brief description on the type of gin used – including City of London’s very own Dry Gin - there is a wide range listed, and the staff are more than happy to talk you through your choice. Drinks are brought to the table, along with some water – you definitely don’t feel rushed like in the busier surrounding City bars. Highly recommended are the Silver Bullet (£8.50) - which comes in a small silver chalice - and the Martinez (£8.50), but the full range are all delicious so make sure you try a couple. There are other non-gin cocktails on the menu for £8.50, and a small selection of wine and beers, but who’s interested in those when the gin cocktails come straight from the very source?
The Last Word
This place cannot be recommended enough – a working distillery in the heart of London where you can learn about the history of gin while sipping on some delicious drinks.