The 18th century saw a gin craze sweep its way through London and its streets, causing fun, frolics and just a few social problems and public outcry!
Gin became the opium of the people, as Georgian London was a place that was over-crowded and basically made of slums. Through this botanical spirit, they found merriment and warmth that helped many survive the cold and damp weather of the time.
Although this sounds unpleasant, it actually helped pave the way for a genuine craft that is still coursing its way through the city today. In 1730, ten million gallons of gin were being distilled in London and were sold in thousands of shops and public houses.
Of course, gin wasn’t originally created in London, as it’s actually Holland that is credited with the invention of the spirit. The English began to take a liking to gin in 1688 and it was from then that London began its love affair with this delicious and refreshing beverage.
Gin is so much a part of London’s identity – there are still hundreds of gin houses and bars where you can get a great glass of the stuff – that it’s little wonder the London Summer Gin Festival has been such a success. 2016 is the third year of this festival, which brings together gin aficionados, new producers and a variety of entertainment.
You’re sure to enjoy this festival, as it really is a taste of summer and you’ll be able to explore some really high-quality product, some of which has been created specifically for the event itself!
Where is it?
You’ll find the Gin Festival at Tobacco Dock, which is a beautiful Grade I listed warehouse in the Wapping Docklands of east London.
Originally constructed around 1811 as a store for imported tobacco, it’s a perfectly apt place to act as the setting for this event.
It isn’t just an unused warehouse however, as it’s actually the home of many events and creative spaces. Its architecture is a standout feature, as it has stunning timber beams, outdoor courtyards and, naturally, waterside views.
How do I get there?
It’s really easy! Tobacco Dock is in the heart of London’s thriving enterprise zone, so you can travel there on the ever-reliable DLR service. To get there, first take the Northern Line on the Tube to Bank Station and you’re on your way.
There are lots of great attractions nearby too, so you can make a whole day out of going to the festival. Get your fill of famous landmarks like the Tower of London and London’s Tech City and financial district.
Places to stay near London Summer Gin Festival
As the festival is close to the capital’s answer to Silicon Valley – aptly named Silicon Roundabout – we would recommend you choose to stay at the M by Montcalm Shoreditch London Tech City Hotel.
One of the most modern hotels in the city, you’ll find that this particular site in the M by Montcalm collection is as relaxing as it is inspired by the digital industry.
You’ll also see that we’re interested in gin too, as our bar staff are incredibly knowledgeable about all things botanical.
To get from the hotel to the festival, take the Northern Line from Old Street station to Bank, then swap to the DLR and you’ll be there in less than 20 minutes.
When is it on?
All this and we haven’t even gotten to when the festival is actually on! Get ready to whet your gin whistle on Friday 26th to Sunday 28th August at the UK’s largest gin event – buy tickets for Gin Festival now.
Tell me more
The organisers of the festival are going to be showcasing more than 100 different gins and you’ll start the day off the right way by being handed a Gin Festival glass as you walk through the door.
You’ll receive one of these in exchange for your ticket and you can even take the glass home as a souvenir. This is a fairly standard practice at food and drink festivals these days, as it means you can carry your glass with you from bar to bar, sampling the wares of each producer.
Don’t worry about cross-contaminating your botanical flavours though, as they’ll rinse your glass out for you each time.
This is a cashless festival, which means that you’ll need drinks tokens to buy the gin, which you can get from the front desk. These include the tonic and garnish for your gin. As a tip, we recommend that you buy a card of four tickets to get a good sampling and find the one you like the best.
For those interested, you can also look forward to talks from gin industry experts and there will be lots of food stalls for you to keep your hunger at bay!