Gin has been the drink of choice for many of us over the years, and while some like it dry – well, nobody’s perfect! – others prefer sweeter varieties of the perfumed spirit. But now is not the time to get dis-spirited. For all of you gin-soaked drinkers looking for that missing link, or should we say drink, get yourselves down to the Dorchester Hotel for an after-work tipple of Old Tom Gin. That’s right! The elusive gin is enjoying a renaissance, thanks to expert alchemist Giuliano Morandin.
In fact, this is only the second time that the hotel’s legendary bar manager has re-introduced the beverage to the UK drinks market. After a 30 year absence, the gin has been distilled exclusively for The Bar at The Dorchester in the very heart of the city (The City of London Distillery, located at 22-24 Bride Lane). Giuliano, highly regarded among connoisseurs for his passion and level of expertise, has achieved much praise, as well as a number of accolades within the industry, and is extremely excited about Old Tom:
“We have been working hard to make this new take on the original 18th-century recipe stand next to other leading gins, and we welcome London’s bar cognoscenti to come and experience the result”.
Let’s start at the very be-GIN-ning
Old Tom Gin (or simply Old Tom to its nearest and dearest) is said to have originated in 18th-century England; its name possibly coming from wooden plaques shaped in the form of felines which were mounted on the outside of public houses. During these gin-crazed days, the British government, in fact, tried to stem the flow of the spirit with licensing and taxes which led the scene underground. There still remains an air of mystery regarding its derivations, as no-one can agree on where the name comes from. Several tales (or should that be tails) surround this elusive drink, with one suggesting that an old tom cat fell into a vat of gin, and drowned; giving it a rather distinctive flavour (what a way to go). Don’t worry, no animals were harmed in the writing of this article, or in the production of the revived gin, as the rudimentary distillation techniques of the 18th-century have long been improved.
Each bottle features a black wax seal and a hand-signed label, along with an individual bespoke batch number detailing its authenticity. Makers ensure that the gin maintains its quality of fragrance and taste, and is available to purchase at The Bar at The Dorchester by the glass, or in 25ml, 500ml and 700ml bottles; we’ll take the latter, cheers!
Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world…
What makes this gin unique is its tailored blend of flavours. Giuliano and his team have paralleled the gin with the style and history of the hotel to enhance the spirit with an exceptional botanical balance, encompassing fresh citrus tangs and subtle minted cardamom spice with a fusion of fruity juniper and grassy coriander.
Most of you might not have recognised the name from its feline origins, but from a cocktail menu. The first written record of Old Tom Gin dates back more than a century ago to the popular Tom Collins cocktail in Ross Brown’s  The Flowing Bowl: When and What to Drink. To celebrate this year’s launch, The Dorchester is now serving the delicious drink in a number of its own cocktail creations such as the Old Tom Cobbler cocktail, perfect to enjoying while watching the setting September sun, alongside Tennessee Williams’ favourite Ramos Fizz and iconic Martinez which was the inspiration for the gin’s revival in the first place.
If you have been illuminated by the near demise and re-ascendance of this beloved gin (phew!), why not try your hand at making some cocktails? The team offer private master classes showcasing the techniques and flavours used to compliment The Dorchester Old Tom Gin within new signature cocktails; our guess is to shake, not stir! Book these classes for individuals or private parties (10 guests, maximum: subject to availability).
For more information, or to make a reservation, please contact: +44 (0)20 7629 8888, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A 700ml bottle of The Dorchester Old Tom Gin is priced at £65 and is available at The Bar at The Dorchester (shop.dorchestercollection.com). Signature cocktails, including the illustrious Old Tom Cobbler, start from £16.