Three hundred years ago in the City of London, people were mostly drunk. By some accounts as many as one in three houses had a still, producing some pretty nasty gin to satiate the average Londoner’s 14 gallon – yes, you read right. Yes, that includes women and children – a year habit. Nowadays one in three is more likely to be a Pret, and although you might spot the odd investment banker stumbling out of Kanaloa, things are comparatively neat and tidy on the Square Mile.


Pleasantly we have seen a return to gin distillation, with the City of London Distillery (C.O.L.D. to some), sneaking in its own still to make the first gin to be made in the ‘hood for over a century. Up the road Silk & Grain is doing some very interesting things indeed with barrels: aging their liquor on site, just as they would’ve done way back when you could have a good night out for a shilling with change to spare.

The London Bar Consultants (pretty self-explanatory), who originally opened C.O.L.D. have just added another joint to the reawakening bar scene in the City: the somewhat hidden Merchant House, focusing on traditional British tipples of rum and gin, stocking over 250 bottles of the latter.

What is more they continue their relationship with craft distiller Jamie Baxter – formerly of Chase Distillers and the aforementioned City of London gin – and helped launch his new gin baby, the robust yet floral Burleigh’s gin, taking its inspiration from Baxter rambling around Leicestershire’s Burleigh Wood.

The ever charming, affable and sharply dressed ambassador Alfie was on hand whipping up some mean concoctions, including a Martini spiked with a mushroom tincture, whilst a local Leicestershire band got grungy in the corner. The City just got a bit better.

Julian de Féral is an award-winning bartender-turned international drinks consultant and occasional raconteur.

Merchant House offers an escape from the City, tucked away at 13 Well Court, London, just off Bow Lane, housing a vast selection of exceptional, rare and vintage gins and rums. For more information visit: