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My annual list of the 10 best summer cocktails being served this summer in bars around London. Drink wisely and enjoy!
If you are not a follower of Bacchus, then scroll to the end to see a few of my fave mocktails, recipes included.
1. I had to begin this very important list with a toast to my first interviewee, Andy Milz, and his whole team at the Cocktail Trading Company! Their Bonsai Butterfly is a sensation of Jasmine Martin Millers Gin, St. Germain, Fig-lime Cordial, and a dash of Champagne. They call it Floral, Zesty & Zen – presented in a finger bowl and consumed in tranquility. Summer in Shoreditch was never as zen before they moved in town!
2. The Alice House in both West Hampstead & Queen’s Park has created a Pear & Tarragon Bellini for their summer menu. Puréed pear, home-made tarragon cordial, lemon and prosecco – summer in a champagne glass!
3. The Savoy’s American Bar’s estival concoction, the Bronze Guardian, conjures up visions of the colossal statue at the entrance of Braavos. Savor its Grey Goose Vodka, apple, dash of pine, chamomile, lemon verbena, while discussing whether Arya will ever escape from the Faceless. (Catch up on Game of Thrones, already!)
4. The Gin comes out in Summer and Mr Fogg’s Tavern’s The Purple Lady knocks your socks off! Look at that fabulous color! The ingredients of Star of Bombay, St. Germaine Elderflower liqueur, lemon sugar and egg white infuse with Butterfly Blue Pea Flowers making the cocktail purple. WOW!
5. Tequila – in my book, the best summer spirit of them all! After living in New York, the change in temperature signifies time to snack on chips & salsa with a margarita chaser.Wander up to Hackney Wick, settle in for the afternoon, canal-side with a frozen margaritas at Number 90’s La Terraza, the outdoor Mexican pop-up bar. How can ingredients such as lime juice, Agave syrup, El Jimador Tequila, with a dash of homemade passion fruit or strawberry puree conjure up so many memories?
6. Last year at Grillstock London, I discovered I liked Jack Daniel’s, Honey Lemonade a little too much. The Jam Tree in Clapham & Chelsea have added an even more summery twist by adding watermelon to the mix. Trust me, it’s even better.
7. Another pop-up bar in town is at The Goring Hotel. Hepple Gin, in partnership with the hotel, is there all summer long and has created a bespoke menu. This new-fangled 90’s fav is reborn, thanks to a combination of Hepple Gin, raspberry syrup, Cointreau and lemon juice, shaken and served in its classic home, the Martini glass.
8. The very soon-to-open (June 22) Heist Bank, in Paddington, is switching up the French 75 and making it Floral. Prosecco makes it bubbly and the gin, infused with rose hips & hibiscus tea, makes it summery. Topped with rose petals and served either in glasses or demijohns, this beverage is dangerous if you have a train to catch.
9. This is just TO DIE FOR! For the month of July, The Donovan Bar at Brown’s Hotel has created the Artini. The presentation is so fabulous – the “paints” are kiwi, strawberry, blueberry and pineapple purées and the swizzle stick is a paintbrush! Drinking from the ‘paintpot’ glass, you can fancy yourself a regular Van Gogh!
10. So the tenth is not in London, but, since it’s washed up on the sea, I think it can qualify. Hilton Bournemouth’s Level8ight Sky Bar combined local favorite Conkers Gin, lemon juice, egg white, sugar syrup, and topped it with pinot noir. I love that Conkers is made with not only local botanicals and elderberries, but marsh samphire and gorse flowers – can’t get more beachy than that!
I was lucky enough to be invited to The Bermondsey Square Hotel’s Inaugural Alfresco Mocktail Cup. Famed mixologists came from far and wide to try their hand at creating classics that could be enjoyed sans alcool.
The winner was Martin Bilsborough from The Gotham Manchester with a Passion Fruit Melange:
- 25ml Passionfruit puree
- 25ml Freshly squeezed lime juice
- 15ml chilli sugar water 2:1
- 20ml Alfresco apple & mint Dolce Vitamin
- Top Agave Grapefruit soda
Shake and strain passionfruit puree, lime juice and chilli water and dilute with apple & mint water. Serve in a wine glass topped with grapefruit soda and garnished with a lime wheel.
Runner-up Tony Coleta, Head Mixologist from The Welcombe Hotel, was a close second with his Elderflower Extravangza
- 10ml Elderflower syrup
- 10ml Orjeat syrup
- Vanilla Essence
- Top with Cucumber water
Infuse sliced cucumber into water for 3-5 hours to ensure maximum penetration of flavour. Shake water together with elderflower and Orjeat syrup and pour into a chilled Martini glass. Add vanilla essence to eggs whites and shake to create a foam. Spoon foam over drink and garnish with chopped cucumber and mint.
The strawberry garnished Mocktail, alongside them in the photo, is from their sister hotel, La Suite West, and is the sexy Beetroot and Apple drink!
- Cocktail Trading Company, 68, Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6GQ
- The Alice House, Queen’s Park: 53-55 Salusbury Rd, London NW6 6NJ; West Hampstead: 283-285 West End Ln, London NW6 1RD
- The Savoy’s American Bar, Strand, London WC2R 0EU
- Mr. Fogg’s Tavern, 58 St. Martin’s Lane, London WC2N 4EA
- Number 90’s La Terraza, 90 Main Yard, Wallis Road, London E9 5LN
- Jam Tree, Clapham: 13 Old Town, London SW4 0JT
- The Goring Hotel, Beeston Place, London SW1W 0JW
- Heist Bank, 5 North Wharf Road, London W2 1LA
- Brown’s Hotel, 33 Albemarle St, Mayfair, Greater London W1S 4BP
- Hilton Bournemouth, Terrace Rd, Bournemouth BH2 5EL
- Bermondsey Square Hotel, Bermondsey Square, London SE1 3UN & La Suite West, 41-51 Inverness Terrace, London W2 3JN
*All of the photos were provided by the bars. The image for Tommy’s Margarita is by George Althaus at London Olios.