Companies looking to plan a distinctly different and uniquely themed meeting or event now have a new venue to consider in Notting Hill, London. The Distillery, recently opened on bustling Portobello Road, is the new home for the same-named, award-winning gin. It holds four floors that celebrate all facets of the popular spirit. Whether it’s learning the history of gin; creating a personal blend; sampling creative gin cocktails and pairing them with two inspired menus of varied cuisine; or capping off an evening in one of three hotel rooms stocked with gin, it’s all possible here.
Portobello Road Gin was created several years ago, at the original location of the Ginstitute in the top two floors of the Portobello Star, a 19th century public house, also on Portobello Road. The partners – bartenders and restauranteurs Ged Feltham, Jake Burger and Paul Coates – decided that if they were providing an experience for consumers to learn about and blend gin they should make a gin that could call the Ginstitute home. It took nine months to create Portobello Road Gin; the Ginstitute eventually outgrew its initial space, requiring production of the spirit elsewhere. The partners wanted to bring production back in house and to expand on the gin-inspired experiences available to consumers.
The current location has housed drinking establishments since 1867. A nod to the spirit’s historic roots can be seen in the alemic copper stills, including a 400L, named King Henry and two 30Ls, called Copernicus the Third and Copernicus the Fourth. The basement houses the Ginstitute, a gin museum and a blending room in which one can learn about the history of gin, about botanical distillates, and how to create a personal blend. Gin enthusiasts sample favorite gin cocktails before taking home a personally blended bottle.
On street level, The Resting Room cocktail bar and restaurant serves up spirits created on site by master distiller Jake Burger and his gin instructors. Sample unique gin blends and spirits from around the world, aged in and served from re-coopered barrels suspended above the bar. Given that the aging process is ongoing, no two drinks are exactly the same. An impressive wine list and British fare created with local ingredients, including small plates and charred and roasted dishes cooked in a Josper oven, round-off the offerings.
GinTonica, located on the second floor, serves a curated list of 100 gins from around the world, matched with mixers and garnishes; cocktails with a Spanish twist using traditional ingredients, flavors and methods from the region; a Spanish tapas menu; and wines from Spain and other countries.
The Boardroom on the third floor, which has a private bartender, contains a private dining room and an integrated bar with seats for 20. Groups can order food from either of the two kitchens, and even experience a gin masterclass, if desired. Lodging on this floor includes three rooms designed by each of the brand’s founding directors, offering views of Portobello Road and minibars filled with spirits handcrafted on site.
Ged Feltham, founder of Portobello Road Gin, offers some insight into the unique venue:
SC: What space within The Distillery is available to rent for meetings or events?
GF: The Boardroom and The Ginstitute can be available for rental. Exclusive-use inquiries for The Resting Room cocktail bar and GinTonica restaurant are handled on a case-by-case basis. Book both The Boardroom and The Ginstitute classes as far in advance as possible. The Boardroom can hold up to 20 people; The Ginstitute classes accommodate 12 guests and last three hours.
SC: What’s distinctive about your location?
GF: We’re located in Notting Hill, overlooking renown, bustling market street Portobello Road. On Saturdays, it’s home to Portobello Road Market, one of the world’s largest antiques markets with more than 1,000 dealers selling every kind of antique and collectible.
SC: What spurred the idea for this property?
GF: The Distillery was born not only from the need for more space but also from our further ambition to bring production of Portobello Road Gin back in-house; however, we never dreamt a site would become available on our namesake road, let alone a four-floor building. We actually did the pitch for the site as a training exercise. They had 100 offers for the building. It was a shock when we got it as we’re still a relatively young brand. That was when we realized the huge potential this building has to offer.
SC: What can visitors learn during classes at The Ginstitute?
GF: Did you know that more classic cocktails are made with gin that with any other spirit? That’s just one of the things you’ll learn from ginmasters Jake Burger and Tom Coates, creators of Portobello Road Gin (the fastest-growing gin in the UK). The Ginstitute has been designated the second smallest museum in London for its collection of unique gin memorabilia from around the globe. Classes include the history of gin and “ginterns” also develop their own bespoke gin, walking away with a full-size bottle while their recipe is kept on file so it can be recreated and shipped off any time you want another tipple. When finished creating, head to the bar to taste the competition.
SC: What are some misconceptions about gin and the way you should drink it?
GF: Gin is our favorite spirit and can be drunk in a plentitude of ways from the classic gin & tonic to the martini. Other classic gin cocktails include the negroni, gimlet, French 75, Gibson, Last Word, and more. There are so many classic cocktails that utilize gin that many times people are drinking it and don’t recognize the spirit.
Many people’s first experience with gin is at university, where perhaps they imbibed a bit too much of a poor-quality gin – and perhaps it came up as quickly as it went down. For many of these consumers, learning to love gin again can be daunting. Tequila seems to have the same reputation. With both spirits, you can learn to enjoy the delicate nuances of the spirit and perhaps even to decipher the unique botanicals in each different brand. No two gins taste the same.
SC: Has gin long been popular in London or is there a recent interest in this particular spirit?
GF: Gin is one of the most popular spirits in the UK (dating back to the late 1600s when King William III, who is Dutch, and Queen Mary II ascend to the throne in England and he introduces the Dutch-invented spirit to the English). The U.S. gin market is growing rapidly as well. Another big market is Spain, something that surprises many people. The biggest markets for gin are the UK, U.S., Spain, Canada and the Philippines.
SC: What are your favorite things about the property?
GF: I think everyone who visits The Distillery will have their own interpretation of the concept. There are so many elements to enjoy – whether it’s popping in for quick, after-work drinks or the full distillery experience of making your own gin and staying overnight.
We are proud purveyors of London spirit and we look forward to exciting guests from around the globe with not just amazing gin but other wonderful new distillates and aged spirits that we have already put to use on our menu in The Resting Room on the ground floor.