I have a confession to make: I’ve never really liked gin, and I’ve especially never liked gin and tonics. I’ve always wanted to like them, though, as they somehow feel like the cool thing to drink (when have I ever been cool, though?!) plus they always look so pretty with their various garnishes and you know how much I enjoy anything visually pleasing! But alas, they haven’t been for me. Both the gin and tonic are way too bitter, and for someone who prefers lemon over grapefruit, they’ve just never been that enjoyable.
That all said, I do want to learn to like gin! Why? Firstly, it annoys me that I always have to skip the gin section of a cocktail menu (so many missed opportunities!) and secondly, there’s just way too many pretty garnish combinations to try and I feel like I’m missing out (yes, I realise that these are both very silly reasons..!). So with that in mind, and the World Gin Day approaching (of course that’s a thing) I headed to one of London’s best gin pubs: The Viaduct Tavern in the City.
The Viaduct Tavern is one of London’s original Gin Palace’s and has been proudly serving the stuff since 1869. You can see the history everywhere in the pub, from the original toll booth from where the pub landlady would sell drinks tokens to the amazing and intricate detail of the ceiling.
Even though the Viaduct Tavern serves other drinks too, it really is mainly a place for true gin lovers. The gin and tonic menu is divided into five different sections: dry, savoury, citrus, floral and sweet, and each section has lots of different gins to choose from and SO many different garnish combinations. As for the tonic, you’ll have a choice of three, ranging from slightly sweeter to very dry.
Jim and I tried three different varieties altogether: one sweet, one floral and one citrus. The tonic for all of these was the sweeter one, though I have to say, to me it still felt quite bitter! Just an FYI if you’re bit of a gin and tonic novice like me..!
My first drink was of the sweet variety: a red gin and tonic (I wish a remembered what it was called!) with an orange slice as the garnish. I have to say my first reaction was a slight disappointment – I had been hoping that because it was from the sweet category, the bitterness would be minimal, but unfortunately, it was still quite strong! That said, once I had a few sips I got used to the aftertaste and almost found the drink… refreshing? You could definitely tell that it was a lot sweeter than the regular type of gin and tonic I’d always had before!
Jim’s first drink was a gin called Deaths Door from the citrus section, garnished with thyme and dried apple. When comparing his drink to mine, mine was definitely a bit sweeter, and Jim’s a bit more tart, which I liked. It was still very bitter, though, but I guess it wouldn’t be a gin and tonic if it wasn’t!
The Viaduct Tavern also has a small but very adequate food menu: they do four different toasties with different flavour combos, all served with a little bowl of vegetable crudités and a side of pickles and olives. I went for the only veggie one with brie, avocado, peppers and spring onion and Jim had one with pastrami, jalapeno, mustard and gherkins and both were very, very good – the bread was toasted golden and crunchy and the toppings worked together so well!
My third and final gin and tonic was from the floral section and paired together Hendricks gin, rose petals and cucumber. I actually really enjoyed this – I loved the slight floral taste (and scent!) and the cucumber especially made it a very refreshing drink. I think the floral section is my favourite – at least so far!
I don’t think I’ll ever love gin drinks as much as I do my margaritas and caipirinhas (although never say never!) but I can actually see myself ordering a sweet or floral gin and tonic if I see them somewhere – I don’t think I’m quite ready for the “normal” ones yet!