Whilst in Rome I read about a bar serving mainly Gin so obviously I had to go and find it. It was fairly easy to find by Piazza di Firenze, but, to my surprise, it was part of a fancy-looking hotel. Luckily I had dressed up as I would have felt completely underdressed wearing Converse and a t-shirt. When I first walked in, the receptionist completely ignored me, but the bar is clearly signed and you can see some random Gin memorabilia around the reception area.
I felt self-conscious until I actually sat down at the bar; there were plenty of seats around, but until you perch on a bar stool you feel like you are just hanging around in a hotel lounge. It was a Saturday night and no one else was there, and I started to wonder if this was a good idea after all. After an hour or more, three people, most likely hotel guests, arrived.
I was greeted by a young guy with a big beard (Mumford & Sons Roma edition) and he was happy to explain about the Gins, whilst I asked questions and smelt each one I wasn’t familiar with. At first glance, the shelves are full of the most common Gins such as Gordon’s, Bombay, Hendrick’s, etc. and I felt slightly disappointed as I was hoping to find something different. When you actually have a better look you can find a few unusual options from Greenland, the Netherlands or Wales, for example. Don’t be shy, just ask the barmen about the more exciting options!
As I was accompanied by a Scot who doesn’t care much for spirits, I was happy to find both The Botanist and Edinburgh Gin for him to try. I’m not sure if it was his love for the country or actually the taste of the Gins, but he seemed happy with the choices. I have to say I was positively surprised to see The Botanist on the shelves as I’ve struggled to find it outside of Scotland. I tried the American Aviator and Dol Gin from the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Italy, the Dolomites.
Dol Gin has 24 aromatic ingredients such as wild anise, elderflower, angelica roots, caraway and rose hip, definitely one to keep an eye out for. When the second bartender (also sporting a full beard!) attended and advised that they had 94 Gins, the first question that came to mind was why not get 6 more and make it 100? He seemed both confused and amused by the question. After the visit I counted 72 Gins on their website so, who knows, maybe the website is not up to date or a number closer to a hundred sounds more impressive.
How they drink it
The bar has a Gin for most taste buds and you have a choice of different tonics, some also flavoured, but do bear in mind if you choose anything other than Schweppes you will be charged extra. If you do not find anything to your liking or you aren’t into Gins but got dragged into this bar by a friend, then why not enjoy a cocktail as they do have a wide selection of premium spirits available?
In keeping with the ponciness of the place, most of the cocktails are smoked (yes smoked!!). The drink is placed on a plate and covered with a glass lid, then filled up with different flavoured smoke for few minutes, the most common flavour being lavender (the two barmen loved to use lavender with everything; even the tonic was flavoured with it and the Gins were topped with lavender flowers). I tried a cocktail made this way and, to be honest, it hardly changed the taste but made the garnish smell smoky.
To impress (and to increase the price) your glass is filled with perfectly shaped ice cubes and several flowers or other annoying little herbs that you are not sure what to do with. The little bits floating in your drink fill up your mouth and I wasn’t sure whether to eat them, spit them out or pick my mouth each time I sipped the drink. Very frustrating, especially when trying to remain cool enough for the venue. I believe in bringing out the flavours of the Gin with different garnishes; however, I would be happy with rosemary or raspberry and black pepper, for example. Too much fuss over the sauce may scare people off and that is one of the reasons I think it’s unlikely the venue gets many repeat customers.
Off the sauce
No hangover rating on this occasion as my wallet could not spare more than two drinks each (€55 in total). However, I would have been more than happy to work my way through the list from classics to super premium Gin options, whilst enjoying the company of the Scot and chatting with the bartenders about their different cocktail-smoking techniques.
Do visit if you are looking for something different and aren’t worried about the price.
Address: Hotel Adriano, Via del Pallacorda 2, 00186 Roma