Once home to an estimated 1700 distilleries during the gin craze, the City of London was distillery-free for almost 200 years. The City of London Distillery (COLD) decided to change that and took its ambitions a step further: it opened a bar within the distillery to serve its London Dry.
COLD first fired up its stills in 2012 but has only opened the bar this past May. The dimly lit and cozy cellar bar attracts gin lovers as well as the City crowd that venture down the stairs on Bride Lane for a gin and tonic garnished with pink grapefruit, making for a very smooth and subtly bitter G&T.
Facing the long bar - home to a selection of over 100 gins as well as a carefully selected collection of tequila’s, liqueurs and whiskies - are Clarissa and Jennifer, COLD’s two stills. They stand out in the hushed candle light and shed a warming glow on the barroom, as if they were there to take care of you, just as Master Distiller Jonathan Clark takes care of them.
The way in which Clark employs their services, you could consider Clarissa and Jennifer as Siamese twins. Clark steeps Juniper berries in grain spirit over 24 hours with Clarissa. The steam generated from evaporating methanol and ethanol passes through a botanical chamber, picking up all of the flavour from the botanicals before re-condensing with the juniper-led spirit. Clarissa’s result is a softer distillate with strong citrus notes.
Jennifer is a traditional pot still using a more traditional method that results in a heavy juniper spirit. As Siamese twins share body parts, Clarissa and Jennifer share their hearts. Clark takes the selection fit for consumption - known as the “heart” of the distillate - from each still and blends them together, resulting in COLD’s award-winning London Dry Gin.
When you’re through with your first G&T and if you can gather the willpower to rise from the comfy lounge chairs, then take part in COLD’s Distillery Tour and get to know Clarissa and Jennifer more intimately. COLD also organizes activities such as Gin Flight Taster Tours and a Lab Experience in which participants can distill their own gin.
So take a trip over to St. Bride’s Church and pop in for a G&T. With Clarissa and Jennifer urging you on, you’ll leave with much more than just a delicious, relaxing experience.