Last week, we celebrated London Cocktail Week 2017 with full gusto. This time last year, Kris and I were both at home struck by a nasty flu and the only cocktail we had was a heady concoction of Lemsip and Beechams. So, this year we were determined to go all out and cover as much ground as possible to make up for last year. With half price tickets from Time Out and a handy app from DrinkUp London, this was one hell of a boozy week!
Here is the low-down of the fabulous (and some not-so-fabulous) cocktails we tried as part of LCW 2017.
The interiors and service at this buzzy and snazzy eatery are worlds apart from its slightly morbid name. We sampled the Velvet Autumn – Copper Dog Scotch Whisky, Homemade Apricot and Nuts Mix, Japanese Citrus and Ginger Syrup with Egg White. Served in a rocks-style whisky tumbler, this drink was mostly citrusy with a hint of ginger. The egg white gave the drink some body, although one could hardly make out the whisky.
459 Kings Road, London SW10 0LR
What a fantastic discovery! It was love at first sight for us, if not just for the well-curated cocktails but for the amazing interiors and super-friendly staff as well. Designed and run by Italians, it is every bit a passion offering. We’ll definitely return to sample their food menu.
Kris had the Garibaldi 2.0 which was made of Campari Bitter, Cocchi Rosso, Elderflower Liqueur, Orange Juice, garnished with a cucumber slice and cucumber & lemon peel. It had lovely bitter notes and was a very summery drink. My cocktail was the Scapigliato. It had Campari Bitter, Stolichnaya Vodka, Fiorente Italian Elderflower liqueur, Red Wine Reduction with Cloves, Cinnamon and Star Anise, Franciacorta and finished with a flamed lemon peel. It was zesty and sophisticated with an enticing taste. For someone who doesn’t like bitter drinks, this was a very enjoyable way to enjoy a Campari-based cocktail.
442 King’s Rd, Chelsea, London SW10 0LQ
The fashionably new Nobu Shoreditch hotel offered a ‘Sip + Snack’ combo at £15 in their lobby bar. The cocktail was the Koko Chap – Crème de Cacao, Nobu coffee, Japanese aged Whisky, Brandy, Amaretto and Herbal Liqueur. The expertly-made, strong-flavoured cocktail had sharpness and strength coming from the Creme de Cacao and Amaretto, disguised under the innocent taste of coffee at the front. It was served alongside the most delicious and moreish Korobuta Sausage Rolls with Black Sesame Seeds. As far as bar nibbles go, these were exceptional.
10-50 Willow Street, London EC2A 4BH
We had to try the winner of the London Cocktail Week 2017 competition. Secretly, we also wanted to check out the most talked about London pub in recent times a.k.a The Wigmore at Langham! The cocktail was an innovative Blended Union – Brew By Numbers beer, Amaro di Angostura, Union Roast Coffee, Mango and Honey.
This was yet another caffeinated cocktail for us after Nobu; a love child of espresso martini, coffee and beer! The first sip was bitter and then as it slowly settled in your mouth, it had a sweet after-taste. You could get hints of all the ingredients in the cocktail; the sweetness of honey balancing the bitterness of the coffee and the mango adding a fruity twist to the fizzy beer. This is definitely a complex cocktail which you will be perplexed by in the beginning and sad to finish.
15 Langham Place, Regent Street, London, W1B 3DE
Hidden deep under the bowels of Kingly Court, we discovered this exciting lilliputian speakeasy bar. The cocktail on offer was the English Rose – Vodka, Rosé Wine Reduction, Lemon, Soda, and Rose Petal. It was an okay-ish cocktail; mostly lemony with a slight hint of vodka. The cocktail itself didn’t blow us away, but we loved the bar and the accomplished bartenders. This is a members-only bar after a certain hour, so arrive early and ask nicely at the door. Or better still, get the membership.
4 Kingly Court, Soho W1B 5PW
We discovered a neat little terrace bar on top of the main restaurant at Roka Canary Wharf, complete with heated lamps, a DJ belting out beats and decent plonk on offer. It was the perfect location to sample their cocktails with views of the banking crowd.
My friend P joined us on this one. She tried their picture-perfect Plum & Cherry – Akashi-Tai Plum Sake, Campari, Cherry Leaves-infused Whisky and Soda. It was fizzy with slight bitter notes; very drinkable. I tried their Wheat and Kokuto – Ryoma Japanese Rum, Dolin Rouge, Shikkoku Reduction & Oak Smoke Droplets. It was almost like a Manhattan with very deep, strong and heady flavours. Kris had the best looking cocktail of the week – a smoky and exotic Mango & Spices – Nikka From The Barrel Whisky, Roka Falernum, Angostura – imaginatively served in a Japanese tiki vessel.
40 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5FW
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the week was discovering this neat little speakeasy behind The Breakfast Club in Canary Wharf. A rundown corridor and decrepit door opens into the most amazing space, complete with mammoth disco balls, Chesterfield sofas and typical pub tipples. We tried the British Alps – Aperol, Tanqueray Gin, Cucumber, Mint, Lemon Juice and Bitter Lemon.
The Breakfast Club, Canary Wharf Crossrail, E14 5AR
A slightly touristy looking joint but dishing out the most delicious and flamboyantly made margaritas. I had the 38 Palomas – a refreshing, fizzy and slightly salty cocktail with Ocho Tequila Reposado 2017 Los Nopales, fresh Pink Grapefruit juice, 3 Cents Grapefruit Soda, Himalayan Pink Salt and Dehydrated Hibiscus. Kris had the Margarita Rumble 6 – an enticing passionfruit Margarita with Vanilla Agave Infusion, Lime Juice, Citrus Bitters in a chilli rimmed glass. It was sweet and spicy at the same time!
5 Langley Street, London WC2H 9JA
I have been to Lima Floral for food before but they have a cozy little bar downstairs that serves the most amazing Pisco Sours (Luna Quebranta Lime, Sugar, Egg White, Chuncho Bitters). My friend M joined us for this one and it was one of the best tasting cocktails of the week.
14 Garrick Street, Floral, London, WC2E 9BJ
Winner of the Best Bar Design at the recently held Restaurant and Bar Design Awards, we were mostly here to observe the interior design and take in the atmos, but the cocktail didn’t disappoint either. We tried the Violet Femme – Bombay Sapphire Gin, Violet Liqueur, Fresh Lemon Juice, Sugar, Egg White & Parma Violets. It was a frothy, sweet and mellow drink.
35 Earlham St, London WC2H 9LD
The good thing about exploring LCW 2017 was that not only did we get to sample some delicious cocktails at a fraction of their regular price but we discovered plenty of stylish new bars that are sprouting all over London. After a week of quaffing cocktails and bar crawling, I can honestly say I have sampled some of London’s best.
See you soon, LCW 2018...