Feb 2020 UPDATE

Well, still unbelievably frustrated however if you’ve been past in the last week you will see works have started on the street.

Our insurers have begun  the process of repairs to the road. This will not be a quick job but at least things are now moving in the right direction.

In the meantime we remain entirely closed!


Progress update January 2020

Well, our frustration is off the scale…we are coming up to our one year anniversary since the damage was caused and  We remain entirely closed!

Works are scheduled to begin soon, we are told!

You may have seen us on the BBC, heard us on the radio, and in the press.

Everything we want to say can be seen in our new poster in the window of our lovely but still closed bar!

Progress update September 1st

The eagle eyed among you will have noticed that two holes were dug in the street outside the bar last month. At last some action by Crossrail to investigate what exactly has been done to the road to cause us so much grief and deprive you of gin!

The good news is that we now have the green light for the road to be dug up so, so fingers crossed these critical works will start soon. We are as shocked and stunned as you must be about the time this is taking… We are very Cross about this, but we won’t be de-railed. Hopefully the light is at the end of the tunnel and things will be back on track soon.


Progress update July 1st

You may have noticed that our gin cellar has been closed since February this year, and the bar has been closed since April. We haven’t said much about it up to now, here is an update.

Road works outside the bar by Crossrail caused structural damage to our basement and we now have something of an unwanted water feature – even Charlie Dimmock would be impressed. So where are we now? Getting this fixed was always ‘out of our hands’. It was initially thought the repairs would be straight forward and take a month so we closed in April with high hopes we’d have a month of disruption at most. Sadly this wasn’t the case. The damage was much more extensive than originally apparent and the road may need to be dug up so our vault can be fixed properly (eek!).

We’re frustrated, you’re frustrated, but we promise we’re doing everything we can to push things forward, if we had a pick and a shovel we would do the repairs ourselves but we can’t.

In the meantime here are some snippets about our wonderful basement, which dates back to the 1700s!

About the basement

Maps show there’s been a building on this site since the 1720s, however the building you see now is at least it’s second and possibly it’s third incarnation. It was rebuilt in 1824, and possibly altered again in the late 1800’s however the original basement vaults remain.

The first mention of the streets are in Westminster Rate books. Chappell Street ( as it was called then) appears in 1696, the first mention of Hollen Street and Great Chapel Street (our corner) is 1717. We are sure a building was here then, but buildings did not have numbers until the 1850’s, they were referred to by the occupiers name. The first reference to the property as a public house comes from insurance records, in 1785 Richard Beall is insured as a victualler at The George, Great Chapel Street, Soho.

The first real details of what the original premises were like come from the Morning Advertiser 1809 which is advertising the lease for sale which indicate the cellars were originally build as wine vaults: “A free public house and vine vault near oxford st with immediate possession. An old established house known by the sign of the George most advantageously situate the corner of hollen street in great chapel street.”



The next full description we have been able to find dates from 1824 Morning Advertiser where the lease is again up for sale but the premiese have clearly been rebuilt, probably because most of the first Georgian buildings in Soho were put up quickly and cheaply by builders on relatively short leases and so were not built to last.  “A valuable public house and wine vaults known as the George situate in Great Chapel St, Oxford st, the corner of Hollen street, soho. The house is newly build in the most substantial manner and fitted up with every convenience for the trade and contains 5 bedchambers, a clubroom 22ft by 16, bar, palour, tap, kitchen, washhouse, cellar areas and vaults in the occupation of Mr Cussins.” We are not sure where the ‘Wash house’ was, but we suspect the building used to have a back yard before Novello House was built next door in the late 1890s.

So we know our vaults date from at least 1809, and from the records and what we can see now they are stripped back inside we are pretty sure they are from the original premises though the back vault was clearly altered at some point, probably when the premises were rebuilt in 1824 to accommodate coal storage.


Whilst dry gin and the origins of the gin and tonic lie with all things red, white and blue it can be argued that the origins of the 21st century renaissance of the gin and tonic lie in Spain so it’s high time we turned our review focus towards our European friends and our taste buds alighted at Madrid’s Santamania distillery and their small batch gins lovingly made in their stills Lola and Vera.

At a respectable 41% abv Santamania London Dry is made from a base spirit produced from Spanish Tempranillo grapes and 14 botanicals. The botanicals are macerated, then distilled, the spirit is brought down to bottling strength with water from the Teide volcano and then the gin is then rested for 2 – 3 months.

The botanicals are an interesting mix of traditional London dry botanicals: juniper, coriander, angelica root, fresh lime and lemon, cinnamon, orris and liquorice. Together with a more contemporary set: pistachio, white pepper, dry ginger, rosemary and raspberries.

One the nose the grape base announces itself as lovely luscious green fruit notes, bright and sweet but not overpowering. There are hints of pine, earth notes and a hint of berry sweetness.

Tasted neat on ice the lead is bright green pine with a sherbet citrus. This is followed by a big punch of zingy pepper with a hint of earthy spice. There is liquorice sweetness in the linger and a luscious juicy texture from the grape based spirit.
With tonic the palette is transformed. A berry sweetness leads into fresh citrus and green juniper pine. A whisper of spice then yields into zingy pepper warmth in the linger. Distinctly Mediterranean in style with a highly satisfying mouthfeel Santamania makes a very drinkable gin and tonic which works well with a red berry garnish.

This is a satisfying gin and especially recommended if you are looking for the on trend berry flavours harmoniously balanced with traditional dry gin notes. Viva Espana!



Twelve keys is a gin made by the fantastic chaps at Sartorial Spirits that takes alchemy as its inspiration, and in particular the work of Basil Valentine who published his Twelve Keys text in 1599.

The origins of distilling are closely associated with alchemy. Early distillers believed that distilling captured  the quinta  – the quintessential essence – of a substance (‘Quintessential’ became’ essential’, which is why plant distillates are called essential oils). Early distillers / alchemists distilled everything from plants to precious stones in a search for the elixir of life and therein lie the origins of gin, juniper distillates (or strong waters as they were known in England) being thought to be good for everything from protection against venomous beasts to helping the memory and fortifying the sight.

Twelve Keys have done their research on alchemy and taken four moments in its history as inspiration to select twelve botanicals for their dry gin which make an intriguing mix: juniper, basil, angelica, gentian, caraway, cinnamon, frankincense, honey, apricot, fig, quince and orris.

And so how does this alchemic gin taste?

The nose is full and robust with fresh green notes with an underlying warm earthy spice.

Tasted neat, bright juniper with fresh green notes lead. There is a big peppery bite and a flood of warming spice followed by a sweet succulent fresh fruitiness in the linger. This is a well balanced complex gin that is easy and rewarding to sip neat.

With tonic (Fever Tree regular) a good fresh green nose remains.  On the palette fresh green and pine notes lead followed by a warming spice balanced by a full sweet fruity linger, the gin rounding out with a luxurious silky mouth feel.

Twelve Keys is an extremely drinkable, well balanced dry gin that uses an interesting and innovative mix of botanicals that balances juniper with sweet fruit notes. It makes a very moreish gin and tonic which we garnish with fresh basil.  I am sure Basil Valentine would approve!


Happy Holidays!

We are shut for our annual holiday over the festive period, and re-open refreshed on January 8th.

We wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful new year and look forward to seeing you in 2019.


%d bloggers like this: