Blue is a bold colour. So it stands to reason that The London Nº1 Gin is a bold spirit. Blue-hued and handsomely bottled, this quadruple-distilled drink is here to shake up the gin industry — bringing colour, flavour and a whole lot of history into an already sparkling sector.
“It’s the first pale blue gin created in London,” says Boris Iván, The London Nº1’s charismatic international brand ambassador. “And the colour is a reference to historic gins. Back then, gin wasn’t filtered. So, when mixed with ice and slightly diluted, essential oils that hadn’t been removed during distillation were released into the drink. They made the liquid cloudy, hazy — and gave it a slightly blue tint. That was the inspiration behind the blue, to bring the spirit of gin’s heyday to nowadays, but keep the clarity and quality.”
It’s a distinctive, dazzling choice; one that stands out from behind any bar. That’s why Gentleman’s Journal headed down to Park Row, London’s latest refined restaurant and bar venue, to celebrate the spirit with both the brand ambassador himself and a handful of the capital’s most discerning drinkers. And Iván began by giving us a history lesson explaining that uniquely-designed bottle.
“Tower Bridge is an icon of the London Skyline,” he says, pointing out the embossed emblem on each bottle of The London Nº1. “It’s the ‘Gates to London’. In the history of gin, London was an international hub for the trading of spices and herbs used by distillers. And, all of these botanicals were shipped up the Thames.”
But we’ll get back to those botanicals a little later. First, let’s mix a blue-tinted drink and get to know our cocktail-sipping company a little better…
Among our guests, there are movers, shakers and taste-makers from every walk of modern life. Men’s fashion expert and writer Tom Sheard is constantly searching for the next best thing, whether that be a signature scent or a singular spirit. He thought that The London Nº1 Gin made “the most amazing cocktails”, and even mixed his first ever Negroni under Iván’s watchful eye.
James Norbury also joined us. The athlete, adventurer and filmmaker is always keen to explore — even when he finds himself in the centre of the city. He particularly liked the gin’s “classy blue colour”, and thought it made “a cracking Martini”. We were also joined by brand consultant Holly Anna Scarsella and, together, this trio epitomise everything that The London Nº1 Gin stands for.
Sheard’s pursuit of luxury is distilled into the gin, Norbury’s pioneering spirit is reflected in its idiosyncratic blue colour and Watson’s creative streak seen in the visionary approach of the brand. Scarsella even called the serves — the simple, classic G&T among them — “my favourite ever cocktails”. But, as Iván explains, there’s a reason for that…
The London Nº1 Gin
Join us at the bar of Park Row for cocktails
“It’s the perfect strength,” says the brand ambassador, “especially for gin. It carries all of the flavours so much better. And, with the most common serve for gin — the ‘Gin & Tonic’ — you tend to have a glass full of ice, lots of tonic and various garnishes. So you need a bit of a ‘kick’ to get the full gin experience”.
And The London Nº1 Gin is nothing if not the full experience. Brimming with botanicals, the spirit has a sensual feel to it; delicate on the palate and with a balanced flavour profile that chimes with that relaxing aquamarine colour. Among its aromatic notes: coriander seeds, orris root, liquorice, almonds, cassia bark and cinnamon. There’s also a flurry of citrus in there, with lemon and orange offering up a subtle sharpness on its long finish.
“We selected the 12 most-used botanicals from 19th century London,” reveals Iván. “And one particularly important element is that we traditionally use over 60 percent juniper, which is a much higher ratio against the rest of the ingredients than usual — as these days, there’s a high demand for juniper berries”.
It’s a traditional touch for an otherwise groundbreaking bottle. Because, while The London Nº1 Gin may have the distinctive botanical mix of centuries-old spirits, it’s not afraid to push boundaries elsewhere. So smooth is this gin, for example, that you can drink it neat, over ice or without even a whisper of a mixer.
“Traditionally, gin wasn’t drunk on its own,” says Iván. “And that was because of its strong botanical presence. However, if you tend to drink your Martini with a small solution of water, why not try a gin on the rocks, served with some lemon zest?”
Stripped-back and simple, it’s a wonderful way to acquaint yourself with this innovative gin. But the brand also has a whole collection of cocktails to make with The London Nº1 Gin — drinks that make the most of its brilliant colour. From the ‘London Mai Tai’ to the ‘London Collins’, many of the serves (find the full list here) benefit from the boldness of the spirit’s blue hue.
“And The London Nº1 Gin is very complex,” adds Iván. “That’s why I love to use it for longer, stronger drinks. With its slightly higher strength, it can handle such cocktails — which gives it a slight advantage when you compare it with the competition. My favourites would be the ‘Dry Martini’ and the ‘Negroni’.
And what better setting in which to mix some of these decadent drinks than Park Row? Situated in the vast past ballroom of the old Regent Palace Hotel, London’s latest luxury drinks and dining space has a subtle comic book conceit running through it; a soupçon of DC entertainment lore evident everywhere from the food menu to the penguin sculpture drifting dry ice across the bar.
We’d entered from Soho’s Brewer Street, through a thoroughly British library with a door concealed behind a bookcase. Down a spiral staircase, a blue light blazed as we descended; the colour chiming perfectly with The London Nº1 Gin we were there to taste. It’s another extraordinary art-deco twist on British tradition. And, like the gin itself, it adds excitement and innovation to your already subverted expectations.
And that, in short, is the essence of The London Nº1 Gin. The blue-bottled package brings together showmanship and craftsmanship to create something steeped in tradition but brand new — and will win the award for most eye-catching spirit on your bar every time.
So, whether you’re looking for the perfect present for Christmas gifting, you’re zhuzhing up your own drinks cabinet or you just fancy trying a special spirit the next time you’re at a bar, bear The London Nº1 Gin in mind. Because, even if you’re feeling blue, you’ll be hard-pushed to find a more spirit-raising, trailblazing gin than this — or one that mixes a more beautiful, colourful Martini.
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The London Nº1 Gin
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