IT'S the quintessential British drink, once derided as the scourge of 18th century society, or dismissed as the tipple of choice for well-heeled pensioners.

But a surge in the juniper-based spirit’s popularity in the past few years, has seen a dramatic rise in the number of gin drinkers.

Last year alone, British drinkers consumed the equivalent of around 1.12 billion G&Ts, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association.

As a result there has been a surge in the number of craft gin makers opening up in Dorset. The flexibility of the recipes, and relative simplicity of its production, makes gin the perfect spirit for those looking to create and sell their own brand.

Now Bournemouth has its own specialist gin bar, Ginjams in Westbourne, run by best friends, Tom James and Chris Myland.

The pair who grew up together, make a formidable team. Tom who graduated from Oxford with a degree in architecture and has worked in the property market, had a clear vision for the brand and interior.

Chris, who has a masters in international politics and worked for Majestic wine, was instrumental in developing the restaurant's European-themed menu ranging from fresh salads and sandwiches to sharing platters.

"This is a dream come true for us because we have been looking for the right place for some time," says Tom.

"I've always liked gin, but until about five years ago there wasn't really much choice - it was the sort of drink that your grandparents would choose. But then there was a change in legislation to make it easier for micro distilleries to open up so now people can experiment with lots of different flavours."

There are currently around 75 different gins available at Ginjams, including all the locally produced favourites such as Conker, Pothecary and Lilliput Gin.

"Every single one of the gins on our menu has been tried, tested and selected based purely on quality, and we continually update the range too. Every time there is a new flavour we will give it a go and see how it sells," adds Tom.

And if you're not a gin fan, Ginjams also has a selection of around 25 different wines from around the world to suit all tastes.

n Every week Ginjams hosts Chooseday Tuesday where you get to try eight different gins for £18 served with a selection of different breads, cheeses, meats and chutneys.