Spanish Terrazza pop-up gin garden launches at Camino BanksideCultureFood & DrinksRestaurant & bar reviews
If you were asked to name two things that London is currently obsessed with, gin would be one acceptable answer, another would be the modern concept of the pop-up bar. So the sprouting of such shacks in the capital’s gin-fertile soil is perfectly natural, particularly in anticipation of the spirit’s very own festival this weekend. The latest to honour the craze is the Bankside tapas bar Camino with their Spanish Terrazza gin garden.
Depending on which way you look at it, the location is either wonderfully secluded in a relatively unused thoroughfare, or wastefully hidden away beneath towering grey buildings. For a Spanish-themed “gin garden” it’s not exactly a sun-trap, shielded as it is by the imposing rear of the Tate Modern. But having said this, its proximity to the Tate also makes it an essential stop-off for those who are artistically satisfied and subsequently thirsty, particularly if the British summer is in a generous mood.
So although it’s not the Catalonian terracotta terrace it promises, it is a juniper paradise in its own British way. The shed-like bar elicits summerhouse nostalgia, recalling garden parties working around ambiguous weather forecasts. But rain or shine, a good drink should always see you through. For gin connoisseurs, the Gin Mare is an herbaceous delight, with all its botanic adornments, the Whitley Neill‘s elegant spice sits nicely with the bitterness of grapefruit, and the more extravagant London No1 Gin impresses with citrus and lavender notes, reinforced by its striking turquoise colour. The showpiece however seems to be the Pedrino, a “Spanish twist on the British Pimms”. Essentially, it tastes like sweets.
London’s current celebration of gin has come a long way since the Gin Act of the mid 18th century, brought in to end large-scale squalor, famously depicted in William Hogarth’s Gin Lane. The low price and ubiquitousness of the drink caused mass drunkenness and hysteria amongst the working classes. The London Gin Festival and the rise of pop-ups like the one at Camino show a meteoric rise in gin’s reputation since those times, celebrating it as a drink to be enjoyed rather than abused.
If you don’t consider yourself a connoisseur – as many aren’t, despite claims – you can still enjoy drinking to your heart’s content in front of a big screen showing a selection of the summer’s biggest sporting events. Though Camino’s gin garden may only feel like a small slice of Spain, it’s a hefty representation of London’s continuing gin craze, and not the kind that swept over Georgian London. This is much more sophisticated than that – there was no elderflower tonic and no complementary olives in those days. Gin has come a long way, and Camino is here to champion it.
Photos: Matthew Pull
The Spanish Terrazza pop-up gin garden at Camino Bankside 5 Canvey Street London SE1 9AN is open from 9th June until September 2016, for further information or to book visit here.