Ring the bells – 2021 is here! Time to start planning the world’s return to some sort of normality. Whilst many may be busy booking trips, planning vacations, organising to attend all those postponed 2020 weddings, those who prefer a bit of urban exploration can take comfort in the knowledge that London’s hospitality scene is here to stay and still offers some of the world’s food and drinks.
With this in mind, we have scoured drinks sales data for last the last 12 months and come up with a list of the year’s most popular cocktails. To top it off, we have taken the hard work out of searching for where to get the best of each, so that you can focus on enjoying a drink and giving yourself a much needed treat.
The Drink: According to sales data we analysed, the most popular cocktail last year was the Old Fashion, by a long mile. Traditionally served as a heady mix of Bourbon whiskey, brown sugar and Angostura Bitters and an orange peel, this is a classic bartender favourite. Served in a lowball glass, preferably with large clear ice the Old Fashioned has been winning over sophisticated patrons since its invention at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
London’s best: Shoreditch hipster hotspot ‘Bull in a China Shop’ knows what they’re doing when it comes to whiskey cocktails. With an extensive list of Japanese, Scottish and American whiskey blends the “Bull” can make pretty much any variation on this classic cocktail but their Chamomile and Charcoal Old Fashioned is a winner on all accounts: Japanese whiskey smoked with coconut charcoal and nuanced with a dash of chamomile syrup. The perfect after-work drink.
The Drink: It should not come as a surprise that a drink that combines the elating effects of a good vodka martini with the kick of a triple espresso is popular. Coming in at second place within the most ordered drinks of the year, the Espresso Martini is the quintessential party cocktail and a London-born one to boot.
They say that the drink was invented by Fred’s Club’s bartender Dick Bradsell in 1980’s Soho London (turns out the martini is as millennial as its customers) when a young Kate Moss requested a cocktail that would both “f*** her up and wake her up”. Ideally composed of rye vodka, coffee liqueur, double espresso and a touch of sugar, shaken and served straight up in a martini glass; this is always fun and delicious drink.
London’s best: With so many great cocktail bars in town serving excellent renditions of this classic drink, it is no mean feat to select a favourite. However, the expertly crafted Espresso Martini by the masters at the Martin Brudnizki designed Coral Room in Bloomsbury is a sure-fire win. Not too sweat or too bitter, served ice cold in a tight high coupette – the only danger is in loving them a bit too much.
The Drink: The Italian Count Camillo Negroni both created and named this absolute classic cocktail and it has remained a firm bar favourite for over a century. A mix of gin, sweet Vermouth, Campari and orange garnish served on the rocks it is both a perfect aperitif and aprés dinner drink. So popular is this drink that it has spawned innumerable permutations as well as a fervent fanbase around the world (London even hosts its own Negroni Week).
London’s best: The bar at Matteo’s within Annabel’s Club is the perfect location to have the ideal pre-dinner Negroni. Prop yourself up on the onyx stone bar and share convivial conversation with the no-doubt Italian bartender as he whips up a strong but delightful drink. Have two and start the evening off right before sauntering down to the Club’s starlit dance floor to bust a groove.
The Drink: Few cocktails can inspire more instant vacation vibes than this world-famous drink. Built on an ample rum base with palate balancers consisting of lime juice, lime wedge and simple syrup, the Daiquiri is like enjoying Cuba in a glass. As another century-old concoction there are virtually infinite variations (frozen, fruit, etc) but the classic is always the best.
London’s best: Mayfair’s hot Madrid import Amazonico serves some of London’s most exciting cocktails, priding themselves on creative twists on the classics. The ‘Amazonegroni’ is no exception. Built with Pineapple Infused Canaima Gin, Vermouth De Jerez, Campari, Sesame – this is like a trip to an island paradise without the hassle of actually travelling.
The Drink: An icon and the ultimate original and defacto international symbol of mixology. Everyone from the famous ‘Mad Men’ to James Bond love them and its easy to see why, served extra cold in a martini glass, stirred (never shaken as it dilutes the ingredients) this drink will definitely take the edge off. Vermouth, olives and gin = what a combo.
London’s best: Anyone who loves a good martini knows that the only place to have one in London is Duke’s Bar. Trendy bars may come and go but this traditional watering hole in St. James is the ultimate pilgrimage for a truly perfectly crafted martini by bar legend Alessandro Palazzi. Duke’s insists that all patrons be serves whilst seated (likely to avoid having too many of these cocktails) and limits customers to two martinis per capita but delivers the drink with flare via a purpose-built martini trolley. As a bonus Palazzi will only ever serve Plymouth gin and the bar’s own extra dry “sacred” vermouth, so you never have to fret over what brand to choose from.
Dark & Stormy
The Drink: Said to be Inspired by pirates, the Dark & Stormy is a Caribbean classic invented in Bermuda (know for its infamous stormy ‘Bermuda Triangle’). Rum has been produced on the island for nearly 200 years, as has ginger and ginger beer – thus giving us this delicious concoction which is accentuated with a dash of lime and Angostura bitters.
London’s best: The Caribbean of the Victorian era was the birthplace of the cocktail and most of the world’s best rums so it seems befitting that one of the best bars to serve it is also Victorian themed. Mr. Fogg’s delivers quirky thematic drinking combined with world-class mixology and their spiced rum Dark & Stormy will undoubtedly have you coming back for more.
The Drink: Eggs whites and whisky are not just for breakfast anymore – mix them together with a little simple syrup, Angostura Bitters, lemon juice and Maraschino cherries, shaken and served over ice – and voilà, you have a Whisky Sour; one of the most iconic cocktails ever made. Not only that, it is absolutely delicious, and perhaps somewhat addictive in taste with a perfect balance of flavours.
London’s best: The basement at George is a badly kept secret amongst those that love to enjoy a killer cocktail in plush surroundings. If you are not already a member, find a friend who is and challenge them to a game of backgammon for who pays the bill, or offer to pick it up before they do, after all – you are their guest.
The Drink: Fruity and refreshing but with a punch, this is a favourite amongst tequila lovers. Grapefruit, agave, lime and tequila, garnished with a spring of thyme for aroma and design this is the go-to drink for summer yachting fun but it holds up just as well whilst indoors.
London’s best: Newly opened Decimo at the Standard Hotel served these at the star-studded Vanity Fair’s BAFTA party in King’s Cross but even with so much talent in the room, the cocktail stole the show. Using only the freshest juices and ingredients the Decimo Paloma delivers deliciousness on all levels.
The Drink: They say that this classic cocktail was designed for Winston Churchill’s mother Jennie Jerome during her drinks party for NY Governor and presidential hopeful Samuel J. Tilden. Named after the NYC island in which it was first served, it uses a simple whisky base with sweet red vermouth, angostura bitters and a cocktail cherry on top.
London’s best: The Connaught Bar won 2020’s ‘Best Bar in the World’ accolade – and for good reason, it’s drinks are phenomenal and its environment decadent yet understated. Agostino Perrone is the Master Mixologist behind the magic and his Manhattan lives up to that title, punching way above any other in town.
The Drink: It turns out it is possible to craft a better version of the classic margarita, and the Tommy’s is it. Created in the ’80’s by the cocktail legend that is Julio Bermejo in San Francisco it leans into the agave flavours by replacing the Margarita’s orange liqueur (Triple Sec) with agave syrup. A classic at any bar or house party.
London’s best: Chiltern Firehouse used to serve the best Tommy’s in town – until Guillaume Glipa’s Louie opened its celebrity lined doors in Covent Garden mid last year. Since then, the very best Tommy’s Margs can be found there – ask for it slightly spicy for an added kick.
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