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Food and Drink

Gin undergoes renaissance in London

A resurgence of higher-end gin consumption has taken hold not just in England, but across the world. DW's Kyle McKinnon takes a look at how Mother's Ruin is taking over the streets of London.

I learned sometime after my 20s that gin is a beautiful thing. I'd seen my Dad lovingly create that marvel of drinks, the Martini, nightly after he was told by a doctor that a bit of alcohol each night might well do his ailing heart some good.

But I'd usually shrug off those drinks as from another generation, while I favored my own hobby of sorts - the quest for beautiful beer and ale.

Liqour bottles, with Gordon's gin in center
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Flaschen mit Calvados, Gin und Zwetschgen-Schnaps, aufgenommen am Montag (29.01.2007) in Berlin. Foto: Gero Breloer dpa/lbn +++(c) dpa - Report+++

Gin is becoming the spirit of choice for many Londoners once again

But then it dawned on me: My Dad usually drank his gorgeous-looking martinis alone as others imbibed in whatever refreshing substances worked for them at happy hour. So why not join him, I thought. It would be the sociable thing - a father/son bonding experience.

I tried one of his very dry classic Tanqueray martinis, up with an olive, and made sure my face betrayed no hint of potential difficulty getting that first sip down. I won't say I was instantly hooked. But after that first sip of that first martini, I definitely thought this could work.

And as I further noted the care and artistry of my Dad's pour - now of two martinis - on those evenings we were together, I determined to look past the old-school nature of the martini and enjoy the juniper and the mild burn. I hasten to say: with care, however.

London Chic

And now it turns out, my dad is London chic, though he still lives in the states.

Just ask the owners of new establishments like the Sipsmith, the Ginstitute or the City of London Distiller. They're packed with crowds of reasonably or very well-off locals giving their newly found spirit a try.

Copper machines in the London distillery

The gin is still made in shiny copper pans; Photo: Kyle McKinnon

Gin, it seems, is back. And we're not talking about your Beefeater or Bombay or Tanqueray gin. The City of London Distillery, as you might guess, is distilling its own gin, like a number of others in the capital and around the UK. It may only be 200 bottles each go-round, but it's enough to spark a flame that spirits entrepreneurs believe will burn for years.

The upper end of the gin market has reportedly seen a jump of 145 percent in the last year, according to industry numbers. Everyone has benefited from the new gin-focused bars because these places pour not only their own product, but the best of what Tanqueray, Beefeaters and Bombay offer.

And if you're drinking a gin and tonic, barmen and women will tell you that you can't drink the high-end gins without high-end mixers. The quinine in your tonic might be best if it's grown at 1,724 meters above sea level. So you'll be drinking the tonic water called 1724.

To my Dad, tonic is a no-go area. So he doesn't need to know that I tried a few different tonics the night of a friend's 40th birthday bash. He does need to know that he's started something for me that just happens to have put us ahead of the curve. At least when it comes to the spirit once known here as Mother's Ruin, now a cause celebre for Londoners and quite possibly coming to a bright shiny copper still in an atmospheric gin joint near you.

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