The Ginstitute is a gorgeous four-storey gin palace on bustling Portobello Road.

London’s first gin hotel has a gorgeous cocktail bar, three bedrooms at the top and is also home to The Ginstitute where you can while away a few hours learning about the history of gin, sample different distillations and even create your own gin recipe. We had a wonderful evening there and after several lubricating glasses of Tom Collins we chatted to Director Derek Jones to find out more about London’s love affair with gin.


How does the Portobello Distillery differ from others? 

Our stills are pretty much running seven days a week. We individually distil each botanical for use in our blending sessions and other projects which gives us the freedom to experiment with more unexpected ingredients such as Worcestershire Sauce and Olive Oil. We convert a variety of the distillates into products that we send upstairs to be served in drinks that the customers can enjoy in the bar and at home.

Describe the Ginstitute in 3 words

Informing, entertaining, imbibing.

What sparked the idea of creating the Ginstitute?

Apart from a strong and sustained love affair with the spirit of London, we also constructed a tiny gin museum on the upstairs floor of The Portobello Star. When this didn’t work out to plan we looked into the logistics of offering guests an opportunity to create their own unique bottle of gin we developed the idea to work on a larger scale and The Ginstitute was born.

We know our clients would love the idea of a gin based team building activity event – what could they expect at one of your workshops?

We welcome gin lovers from around the world with open arms and provide them with a chance to sample not just the gins themselves but also learn about this wonderful spirit’s long and, at times, miserable story, ending with the unique opportunity to create their own individual gin recipe, which we keep on file for them to reorder, time and time again.

Are you able to bring your gin-making experience directly to events?

In its current form not as such, but we are looking into an alternative version that will travel well and can incorporate all aspects of The Ginstitute in a more compact form. We do offer training and tasting sessions conducted by our experienced gin instructors which include elements of the full session.

What inspires you as gin makers?

Creativity, originality and plenty of gin.

How important is the tonic and the garnish to making a great gin and tonic?

Essential. There is no right or wrong answer though; different strokes for different folks, different gins work better with different tonics. As a general rule when selecting your tonic water steer clear of anything that contains artificial sweeteners and ingredients.  In regards to the garnish, again whatever works for you and your G&T. The classic lemon & lime combo is always a winner (easy on your squeeze though, too much citric acid decarbonates the drink and can overwhelm the taste and flavour). Other people enjoy a more savoury vibe so sprigs of rosemary or basil leaves; experiment with whatever you have knocking about in  the kitchen. 

What’s the most unusual flavour combination that’s been created at one of your workshops?

Not as part of our workshops but as a favour, we recently distilled Gentleman’s Relish for a cocktail menu in one of Jason Atherton’s restaurants. A magnificently, distinct flavour but it stunk the distillery out for hours. 

Portobello Gin Recipe Ideas – Perfect for Summer events

Ginstitute Wedding G&T
Ginstitute Portobello Picnic G&T

At Evolve we regularly share news about latest venues, styles and events on our blog and social media. You can visit our blog here and follow us at @evolveevents.

To get more ideas or help with your event talk to the team on 020 7610 2808 or email