There’s not only one bar driving the gin renaissance in the UK. But Graphic in Soho could be leading the pack in terms of quantity and quality. With 310 different gins on its roster, Graphic claims to have the biggest breadth when it comes to gin options, an amount not diluted by a lack of top tipple.
Graphic’s gin selection is five years in the making, starting when there probably weren’t even 310 gins in circulation. “There is a lot of research that needs to be done”, commented Dom Balfour, Graphic’s General Manager. “We go to a lot of trade events and talk with a lot of brands both big and small.”
“Gin is such a unique, strong spirit that many people think the taste is to strong. But recently, with more bartenders focusing on gin and more magazines talking about it, gin is becoming cooler and cooler,” explained Balfour, who encourages his staff to taste as many gins as possible and, of course, to experiment with new cocktail creations.
Graphic educates all of its staff in gin and even takes them on trips to distilleries to familiarize them with the processes and botanicals that give gin its wide variety of characteristics. A knowledgeable staff combined with a trendy atmosphere - the walls are adorned with regularly changing art from well-known surrealists to award-winning street artists - adds to Graphic’s appeal.
Every other Monday, Graphic invites guests to the Juniper Club, an hour-long experience that introduces attendees to the production processes and history of gin as well as tasting notes and botanicals education. “Everyone hates Mondays, so we make a thing of it,” said Balfour. The event is free for the curious gin consumer and attracts a mixture of bartenders, drink industry professionals and your everyday cocktail quaffer.
Graphic puts on The Juniper Club in conjunction with a gin brand which is then highlighted by the bar for the rest of the week. Familiar names such as Hendrick’s, Tanqueray and Martin Miller have all presented their wares at the Juniper Club. At the moment, Graphic is hot on Elephant Gin, an up-and-coming brand that donates 15% of its profits to elephant charities.
Graphic is one of seven fashionable bars owned by the Urban Leisure Group that prides itself on its whisky and gin collections as well as its focus on sustainability. Much of the food and drink at ULG bars is sourced locally, reducing carbon footprint and delivering fresher food to customers.
If you’re in Soho this weekend stop by Graphic for a cocktail. The current menu is based on the classics and takes patrons on a journey through a history of drinks dating back to the 1800s. And if you enjoy one too many of Graphic’s cocktails during the evening, get back there in the morning and they’ll revive you with Dom’s favourite drink of the moment, the Corpse Reviver #2. Add some sliders with locally-sourced ingredients on the side and you’ll be ready once again for another unforgettable cocktail adventure at Graphic.