What's My Weekend: Olivier Ward

The founder of Junipalooza Gin Festival shares his weekend

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Friday

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I‘m in bars all week and live in West London, so I like to stay local on Fridays. I like fun bars where there’s great hospitality, a good gin selection, and knowledgeable bartenders. That sums up Charlotte’s Bistro, above (6 Turnham Green Terrace, Chiswick, W4 1QP, 020 8742 3590, Charlottes.co.uk) to the tee. It stocks gins that you can’t find anywhere else in London - like Swedish Gin Herno.

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Further into town, Mr Foggs, above (15 Burton Lane, London, W1J 6JD, 020 7036 0608, mr-foggs.com) is a must for gin fans. It's the London home of Elephant gin, a new addition to the gin shelf and really worth a taste. It's earthy, with a beautiful aromatic pine note to it. The bar also has a great selection of vintage gins from the 60s and 70s.

Saturday

 

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Photo: Alastair Wiper

London is the best city in the world for new things to experience - there’s always something going on. In West London, you can take a tour around Sipsmith Distillery, above for £12 (27 Nasmyth St, London, W6 0HA, 020 8741 2034, sipsmith.com) - one of the first craft gins to emerge in London in more than 200 years. They make all their gin onsite - so it's the perfect place to learn about the entire process.

 

 

 

I’m really excited that Beefeater Distillery (20 Montford Pl, London, SE11 5DE, 020 7587 0034, beefeatergin.com) has recently opened its doors to the public. Another good one is The London Distillery Company (33 Parkgate Road, London SW11 4NP, hi@londondistillery.com, londondistillery.com). The guys started distilling Dodd’s Gin in early 2013 and are now also creating whisky. It’s a great place to learn about all things gin, as owner Darren and master distiller Andrew have so much to share. The micro distillery is handily placed directly across from The Doodle Bar (33 Parkgate Road, London SW11 4NP, 020 7223 7115, thedoodlebar.com) too, who serve excellent Negronis.

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London’s restaurants and bars are what get me really excited. I love Jason Atherton’s restaurant, Little Social, above (5 Pollen Street, Mayfair, London W1S 1NE, 020 7870 3730, littlesocial.co.uk) for dinner and definitely recommend it – especially the Shoulder & Shank of lamb. Their sister restaurant, Social Eating House (58 Poland Street, London, W1F 7NR, 020 7993 3251, socialeatinghouse.co.uk), is five minutes away and has an amazing bar upstairs, Blind Pig, which sets the tone for a night out: comfy seating, moody candlelit atmosphere and imaginative cocktails. Try the Flying Dutchman - a classic cocktail with Zuidam Genever, Benedictine, Yellow Chartreuse and lemon juice - served with a poppadum with chutney as a garnish. It’s insanely tasty.

Sometimes I’ll head further east to Callooh Callay, below (65 Rivington St, London, EC2A 3AY, 020 77394781, calloohcallaybar.com), for delicious cocktails and occasional pop ups in their upstairs bar. The bar manager, Sarah Mitchell,is one of the most knowledgeable gin- slingers in town.

 

 

 

After that? Nola bar (1st Floor, 66-68 Rivington St, London, EC2A 3AY, nola-london.com) is just around the corner and is fantastic little place for all those New Orleans classics. Order a Gin Fizz or a Grasshopper (Crème de menthe, white Crème de cacao and fresh cream), and you ‘ll be transported back to the gin joints of old.

Sunday

 

 

 

Photo: David Loftus

Sunday is a day to be outside. I love Petersham Nurseries, above (Petersham Rd, Richmond, Surrey, TW10 7AG, 020 8940 5230, petershamnurseries.com): eating inside greenhouses is always fun, especially when you know that the ingredients come from just around the corner. It takes me back to my childhood, eating peas straight from the pod in our grandparents’ garden. If the weather’s good, a stroll through Kew Gardens (Brentford Gate, London, TW9 3AB, 020 8332 5655, kew.org) is always inspiring. There are hundreds of botanicals used in gin, so it sets me thinking about which ingredients to use in cocktails, or what would work as a food pairing. If nothing else, it’s a pretty walk and a great place to bring a picnic.

Junipalooza (Factory 7, London EC2A 3LS, info@ginfoundry.com, ), June 6th – 8th, is a festival dedicated to gin and will be the UK’s biggest gin event in decades.

Gin Foundry is the largest online resource about gin and can be found: GinFoundry.com and @GinFoundry #Junipalooza

Junipalooza tickets cost £20: eventbrite.co.uk/e/junipalooza-tickets-10645126861

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