Gin, beer, meat and bread at Pint Shop in Cambridge

pint shop bar cambridge

The owners of a Cambridge bar specialising in gin and beer are looking to expand

The beer houses of the 1830s were the inspiration for Pint Shop in Cambridge, but the bar is about more than just beer, specialising in British meat and bread as well as gin. After opening late last year, owners Richard Holmes and Benny Peverelli are looking for a second site in southern England, from Brighton, Bristol and Bath to Oxford and London as well as in Cambridge. “We’re keen to expand to another part of the country, with the aim of having a presence in all the big southern cities, and one northern location, within the next five years,” Richard explains.

Benny has worked in kitchens for 14 years, from high-street brands to sous chef at Century members’ club in London while Richard worked at gastropubs and high-street chains on the management side. They met at restaurant group Leon where Benny was head of food and Richard was operations manager.

Pint Shop offers casual dining, from snacks and light lunches to “feasts”, and has an ever-changing list of beers, all from smaller brewers and mostly British, with 10 on keg and six on cask. The first beer houses were opened after the 1830 Beer Act made beer more accessible, but gin was traditionally Britons’ favourite tipple. This inspired Richard and Benny to focus on gins, mostly from smaller producers and regularly changing. After starting with 45, they are close to having 70, carefully selected to represent different botanicals and styles. “We wanted to focus on gin and offer a wide range of unusual varieties that people may not have tried before, and it’s a decision which is paying off,” Richard says. “There’s been a real resurgence of gin at the moment, with lots of young, new distilleries launching and more people choosing to drink gin so the timing felt right.”

The emphasis has been on gin and tonic, but they have developed new serves such as steeping gin with herbs to create a version of a Pimm’s. With the bar located on Peas Hill, they have a London dry gin made with peas as a botanical, produced for them at The Cambridge Distillery. “Every time we open a Pint Shop, we want to offer a gin that’s unique to that site and has a link with its location,” Richard says. “Fortunately, the pea gin also tastes good and has gone down well with our customers.”

The interior, created by hospitality design practice Macaulay Sinclair, also takes inspiration from 1830s beer houses. It is simple and “very British”, with well-made hand-crafted furniture and an uncluttered bar with bottles in cabinets. The tables are thinner than normal – just big enough for a pint of beer and your elbows. “We wanted to create an intimate atmosphere that would encourage conversation,” Richard says.

The offering may be slightly different at their new bars, he adds. “While the look and feel of the new site will be consistent with what we have done before, with meat, bread and beer at its core, it won’t be overly formulaic.”

pint shop dining cambridge

Pint Shop, 10 Peas Hill, Cambridge CB2 3PN Tel: 01223 352293

Behind the scenes
Design: Macaulay Sinclair
Lighting: The Light Corporation
Kitchen: Vision Commercial Kitchens
Cellar, dispense: Barfit

Originally published in the August 2014 print edition of Bar magazine.

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