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The Story of King of Soho Gin

Dry January is not for everyone. For those who declined to stay dry, it’s been ‘Ginuary’. For the last week of January, we’re raising a toast at home with The King of Soho Gin.

Co-founder of the brand, Alex Robson told us more of the Soho-inspired spirit’s colourful backstory and their gin cocktail recipe library for you to experiment with at home.

The King of Soho began, as all the best ideas do, with an ‘epiphany’ between two good friends late one night over a cocktail in a dimly lit bar in Soho and between the clinking of gin glasses, the plan was luckily captured on the back of a napkin so it was remembered the next day.

The gins are inspired by the Soho legacy of the original King of Soho, Paul Raymond, father of Alex’s business partner Howard Raymond which, as Alex says ‘set us apart from ‘the others’ from day one. Alex describes Paul Raymond, aka The King of Soho, as ‘a challenger spirit, famous for his risqué shows. Over a period he revolutionised the district of Soho and dominated the London entertainment scene. Paul’s legacy is the Soho we know today, its inclusiveness, sense of fun and ‘anything goes’ attitude.’

When it came to creating his very own gin tribute, Howard and Alex, ‘wanted to bottle that Soho Spirit, that sense of fun that Paul Raymond epitomised and share it with the world; an opportunity for others to be mischievous and creative with a high-quality, smooth and delicious gin, in a beautifully designed bottle.’ And, that’s exactly what they’ve done in the brand, it’s story and the gin itself.

Of course, nothing matters more than the taste. The King of Soho London Dry Gin is made using 12 botanicals; a delicate combination of citrus notes and classic juniper. While The King of Soho Variorum Gin, has an off sweet palate, adds a hint of pink and notes of strawberry to the essential juniper and citrus flavours of the classic recipe.

‘For us, authenticity is important, it’s part of our brand’s DNA, we felt that a London gin should be distilled in London – not every London gin is. Our gins are distilled by Charles Maxwell, whose family’s love affair with gin began in the 1680s at around the same time as the name ‘Soho’ was first coined by the 1st Duke of Monmouth, so it was only natural that we should ask Charles to craft our gins. Serendipity!’

Having grown from a napkin scrolling into an internationally prized drink, how does Alex see the business’ early success?: ‘Passion, hard work and good partners on both the supply and sales side of the business, together with a clear vision and more than a smattering of tenacity. Sometimes I have driven the business to the exclusion of everything else in my life, but I am not the first nor will I be the last entrepreneur to do this!’

And what advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business? ‘My advice would be to anyone starting up. Make sure you have a clear plan even if it’s only a few bullet points on the back of a napkin. I’m quite instinctive about the way I do business and favour mood boards myself, I’m a big fan of visualization. Every business needs a roadmap, but if 2020 has shown us anything, it is the importance of adaptability and lateral thinking; sometimes success lies in the ability to be flexible – being focused is not the same as being rigid or fixed, that is a fundamental confusion that is often made.’

Gin Cobbl

Of course, a crucial question we want to know, Alex is, how do you take your gin? ‘Well, I have always very much adopted the Soho ‘Anything Goes’ mantra which I embrace wholeheartedly. I’m a terrible flirt, sometimes it’s a martini, sometimes it’s a Negroni, sometimes it’s a G&T. Currently I am having a brief flirtation with a ‘Soho Cobbler’; a sublime combination of our London Dry Gin, cream sherry and a touch of sugar syrup over ice – it’s a nod to Christmas past and Aunty Minnie’s ‘sneaky’ glass or two of sherry whilst making the family trifle!’

Check out The King of Soho’s cocktail recipes here for some lockdown Ginuary inspiration.

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