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Bar opens above closed pub - and you can make your own gin

PUBLISHED: 10:40 09 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:40 09 November 2019

Door Eighteen & Gin Academy Speakeasy Cocktail bar 18 Charing Cross Craig Allison and Rory Smith  Pictures: Brittany Woodman

Door Eighteen & Gin Academy Speakeasy Cocktail bar 18 Charing Cross Craig Allison and Rory Smith Pictures: Brittany Woodman

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The hidden venue, at Charing Cross is also selling hemp-infused Pineapple Express cocktails and one of the largest selections of spirits in the city.

Door Eighteen & Gin Academy Speakeasy Cocktail bar 18 Charing Cross Craig Allison   Pictures: Brittany WoodmanDoor Eighteen & Gin Academy Speakeasy Cocktail bar 18 Charing Cross Craig Allison Pictures: Brittany Woodman

Fancy dressing up Walter White style and mixing up your own mad concoctions (of the legal kind of course)?

Well, check out the latest addition to the Norwich bar scene -Door Eighteen and The Gin Academy. Found in what was The Gin Palace at Charing Cross in the city, the 'speakeasy' style watering hole, academy and distillery are the brainchild of founder and former director of Bullards gin Craig Allison, and former Bullards distiller Rory Smith.

Offering what they say is one of the most unique gin-making experiences in the UK, the duo are looking forward to themed sessions in the new year - from Breaking Bad, to possibly Harry Potter and more. "Breaking Bad will be brilliant," says Craig. "You'll come in, put a boiler suit on and make colour changing gin. It will be that little bit more theatrical. We plan to run something themed every month."

Priced at £95 per person or £165 for a team of two, The Gin Academy puts you front and centre of the action in the distillery. Led by Craig or Rory, the sessions last approximately two-and-a-half hours , after which you'll each head home with your very own bottle of hand-crafted gin.

Door Eighteen & Gin Academy Speakeasy Cocktail bar 18 Charing Cross Interior Pictures: Brittany WoodmanDoor Eighteen & Gin Academy Speakeasy Cocktail bar 18 Charing Cross Interior Pictures: Brittany Woodman

"We're so excited about this," Craig adds. "The academy will be East Anglia's biggest gin school. You'll learn about the production of gin and get the opportunity to build your own gin, choosing seven botanicals from 30, measuring them out and putting them all in your own little still. Then you switch it on and make the gin. You bottle it, name it, label it and take a full size bottle away with you." The session includes four drinks each during the session. "The stills are wicked," Craig smiles. "Rory and I did a few of these sessions around the county while we were in the process of building this place and they are really good fun. Hopefully this will be one of the best places to make your own gin in the UK."

Next year, fingers crossed, the business partners will bring in a rum experience too, where customers can blend and spice bottles of the spirit.

Towards the back of the building, hidden upstairs is new bar Door Eighteen, which will (once they've settled in) sell experimental gins made in-house. "We wanted this to be a bit off the beaten track," Craig reveals of the concept, "somewhere that's a bit hidden away so you don't just stumble across it, you have to look for it."

Inside, Door Eighteen has a bold, industrial vibe, broken up with splashes of greenery, and can seat 60. Craig claims to have one of the largest ranges of spirits in Norwich at the bar "not just gins, but a good selection of whiskies and rums too", as well as beers from Camden, Goose Island and Lacons. In addition the venue, at the time of going to print, was waiting to hear whether it would be chosen as one of just two bars in the city to have Corona beer on tap.

Door Eighteen & Gin Academy Speakeasy Cocktail bar 18 Charing Cross Pictures: Brittany WoodmanDoor Eighteen & Gin Academy Speakeasy Cocktail bar 18 Charing Cross Pictures: Brittany Woodman

If cocktails are more your bag, dare to be different by trying out some of the unique concoctions the bar team have up their sleeves. Pineapple Express (inspired by the film) is infused with a hemp-based rum and served in a pineapple - naturally. There's a Tobacco Old Fashioned. And the classic Espresso Martini is turned on its head, gaining its smoky notes from coffee bean foams.

As more and more people are choosing not to drink alcohol when they hit the tiles, Craig and Rory have ensured the bar is well stocked with options for designated drivers as well, from mocktails, to Seedlip non-alcoholic gin, and non-alcoholic beer, as well as locally made Lixir tonics in flavours such as blood orange and cinnamon and elderflower and lemon. "They're popular if people want to feel like their having a gin and tonic!"

"The bar's already proving popular. We're really happy with how things are going and can't wait to showcase The Gin Academy.

Door Eighteen is open from 5pm to 1pm Wednesday and Thursday, and from 3pm to 1.30am Friday and Saturday. Look out soon for snacks at the bar, including cheeseboards.

The Gin Academy sessions are bookable every weekend here



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