In A Word
Gin-Temple (OK, so it’s a double barreled word)
Those who worship at the alter of Gin, and like the spirit in all of it’s wondrous varieties (there are many). People who want an education in gin, but would who would rather get this via osmosis and unstructured drinking, rather than rote learning.
People thinking of going to Antico who at the last minute decide that hard liquor is preferable to Ribeye Tagliata and then later decide to order some Italian food anyway to sop up some of that gin
People who’re ‘into’ the cocktail revival, with the older recipes, prohibition cellar look and home made tonic water (214 make their own onsite). Also couples. I saw couples doing the romance and the touching. JUST COS ITS DARK DOESN’T MEAN WE CANT SEE YOU
People who want to hold small, boozy and intimate gatherings with a few friends
A limited Italian selection from Antico, which is upstairs – but on the main part, booze heavy, and mainly gin.
I don’t always go drinking in basements, but when I do…
I had no idea what the hell to expect en route to 214 Bermondsey. Normally I try to do as little research as possible before going to a place, and for 214, I was so busy I seem to have completely forgotten to do any. Which meant finding it was hard enough
And yes, the overall experience was amazing.
The barman, who’s name I either didn’t get or forgot (I often forget stuff) is one of the nicest barmen I have dealt with. Like most mixologists working in a place like this, he appears to know what he’s talking about, and if, like me, you like gin and are keen to learn stuff, he will teach you many things and you will have ENJOY of gin and it will be good.
SO, the space itself is small, and intimate. Initially, I thought we were in one room of many, but no – this is it, one room. Essentially Antico’s basement.
This means that you can see everybody in there with you…heck you can almost reach out and touch everybody. I immediately like the idea of such an intimate space, I wish I lived nearer by, this would be a great place to unwind after ‘one of those days’.
Greta: The overall atmosphere is a cosy but stylish London bar, with a charm of deep red tones suggesting romance brimming beneath the surface. The lights cast a soft warm glow, as if there’s a sepia filter over the whole scene.
There is a stylish and subtle hint of modernist revival, even the music is electro-swing. Me and Jack were impressed by the magic mirror which appeared to show the World Cup Football, somewhat less mystical than Snow White – ‘mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the best at kicking the ball?’. [Ed: answer – the guy with the afro]
The service was lovely, the barmen came across as highly knowledgeable of the 214’s specialities – the gin, but I leave the gin talk to Jack…
The Food & Drink
Jack: 214 Bermondsey do a few things rather well, but as you have probably guessed, the thing they do best is gin. They have a legendary selection of the stuff – almost countless varieties that I’ve never heard of. Hundreds upon hundreds of them, from all over the world. From the tiniest craft distilleries, to your old favorites and everything in between…
Greta: I attempted to have minimum alcohol possible, [Ed: lol] I initially ordered a Virgin Mojito. I called it ‘Rainbow Juice’ they someone managed to capture the entire visible light spectrum in a glass, as well as the admiration of all my sweet and sour taste buds.
Barman decided that we needed to try two gin flights (pictured above). They’re themed – so one was called ‘Taste Of London’ which was a selection of pretty unusual London Drys that I had not yet tried. The Larios came out on top. I can’t recall the name of the second flight, but it contained a lot of American craft gins.
The cool thing about the flights is that they’re done as blind tastings. You know which 3 you’re trying, but not which is which. The unopened envelope tells you which is which, plus some more info and tasting notes about each one. I find this all to be very fun. It’s like a shell game – with booze!
For the food they have a small but high quality selection….
Pork Shoulder Tortellini
Greta: 214 is charming bar, rising in fame for its refined knowledge and quality in gin, it is also of a gentle and intimate atmospheric quality which is lovely for close and personal socialising. As well as their gin, the extra food on the menu is not an afterthought, but carefully crafted to quality.
Jack: Without a doubt one of the most fun bars I have ever visited, and I seem to spend a disproportionate amount of my time in bars these days [Ed: oh dear]
It’s certainly a hidden gem, literally hidden and hard to find, and perhaps all the better for being so. Like being part of an exclusive club. Or what joining the Illuminati must feel like *conversational thread trails off abruptly*
If you have a gin lover in your life, you owe it to them to let them know where this place is.
“The proper union of gin and vermouth is a great and sudden glory; it is one of the happiest marriages on earth, and one of the shortest lived.” ~ Bernard De Voto