The gimlet and mint julep enjoyed their popularity following Baz Luhrmann’s revival of the jazz age, the Aperol Spritz brought springtime from sunny Europe to cloudy Britain and now the negroni basks in its status as the cocktail of the summer with Negroni Week in June. Thirsty Londoners on the hunt for ever quirkier watering holes are in luck: the city’s offer of weird and wonderful concoctions makes it an oasis of cocktail innovation. Here are five cocktails you won’t find on any other menu.
Thermo Nuclear Daiquiri, The Blind Pig
Finding this bar, hidden behind a wooden door in Soho with a pig’s head for a knocker, is the first challenge. Choosing your cocktail is the second. One of the more terrifying descriptions reads “Thermo Nuclear Daiquiri: Overproof rum blend, spiced pineapple falernum, absinthe, lime juice, glowing radiation, danger.”
In case you had any doubt as to the nuclear nature of the drink, the glass arrives glowing green and wrapped in biohazard tape. Safety goggles at the ready.
Summer Shrub Sling, Reverend JW Simpson
With a focus on quality cocktails, JW Simpson takes the ingredients malarkey seriously. Some of their ingredients are made on site, fermented for days, and the seasonal menu changes three or four times a year. Summer time has brought an even more flowery twist to the botanical menu, and strawberries make a frequent appearance.
The Wild Strawberry Negroni mixes Wild Strawberry Vermouth, Campari, Rathbone New London Dry Gin, a dash of strawberry shrub and bitters, for a unique twist on this classic cocktail of the moment.
Crimean Cup a la Mamora, Mr Fogg’s
Mr Fogg’s, the Mayfair bar designed to look like the London pad of the explorer from Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days, houses an eclectic range of trinkets from birdcages to penny farthing bicycles, complete with a hot air balloon disappearing into the ceiling.
The bar offers sharing cocktails for up to eight people inspired by Mr Fogg’s travels around the world. The ‘Crimean Cup a la Mamora’ is a delicate combination of Belvedere Vodka, Frangelico hazelnut liqueur, grapefruit juice and Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial Champagne, served in a globe. Naturally.
Royal Oak, 69 Colebrooke Row
The tiny 69 Colebrooke Row, tucked behind Essex Road in Islington with its chequered floor, live piano man and people piling up on the staircase waiting for a table, manages to successfully recreate the feel of a speakeasy, which so many bars are giving a go.
The Chelsea Flower Show brought many a floral inspired cocktail, but the Royal Oak takes this a step further, drawing its inspiration from a tree. The drink is a mix of acorn liqueur and oak bitters topped with champagne. Whether or not you take a shining to 69 Colebrooke Row’s creations, you’ll be sure from the first sip that they’ve not scrimped on the liquor.
Edwina’s Affair, Dishoom
Dishoom’s Shoreditch branch houses the ‘Permit Room’, a bar that pays homage to Bombay’s on-going prohibition which says that a person must hold a permit if they “continue to require liquor for the preservation and maintenance of one’s health”.
Ever committed to their customers’ health, Dishoom offers a range of juleps, bitters and sours with an Indian twist. The most tantalising on offer, Edwina’s Affair, consists of “The hush-hush love triangle of gin, rose and cardamom, in a secret garden of fresh mint, strewn with candied rose petals. Light, refreshing and captivating.”
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