Spirit of a city: eight cocktails that are love letters to London
This article is part of a London guide by FT Globetrotter
Bumblebee, by Ago Perrone and Giorgio Bargiani from Connaught Bar
The Connaught Hotel, Carlos Place, London W1
Inspired by the variety of cultures that naturally blend in London, this cocktail we created from the Connaught Bar celebrates free and forward thinking, embracing the union of ideas and flavors. Bumblebee shows how differences can be integrated and work together for a richer alliance.
It is a dynamic and tasty taste discovery based on a truly classic London cocktail – the Bramble by legendary bartender Dick Bradsell – adding the luminous delicacy of champagne with botanical notes of gin and berries.
* In a blender, add 25 g of fresh raspberries, 25 g of fresh strawberries, 10 ml of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt and black pepper, 500 ml of gin and 500 ml of vodka. Mix to make a fatty berry puree, let stand for an hour and strain through cheesecloth.
Mix all the ingredients with ice and pass through a coupe. Add a crystal ice cube
Le Rossignol, by Fabiola Falasca from Lyaness Bar
london shipping containers, 20 Upper Ground, London SE1
London is built on its diversity. It is a center of excellence in many fields – from fashion to philosophy, from art and music to design – thanks to the people and talents it attracts from all over the world. The city’s varied and delicious food and drink are no different, and they too have made their mark on the world.
In all the bars of the world, London is represented on the menus with its dry London gin. However, only one of the historic brands continues to be made in the city: Beefeater.
The cocktail we created here at Lyaness is called The Nightingale – a reference to Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing in Britain, born in 1820, the same year the foundations of the first Beefeater Distillery were laid. The drink has ties to Britain while also recognizing that historically we have drawn ingredients from all over the world to create something special. We even added a little Pride of London ale – although other beers work well too – to also pay homage to local produce and craftsmanship, paired with exotic ingredients. The nightingale is meant to be a party – the perfect toast until lockdown is over.
Crush the cardamom pod at the bottom of the shaker and add the other ingredients except the beer. Stir, then filter twice into a chilled wine glass with a cherry in the bottom. Top with cold beer
The Londinium, by Alessandro Palazzi from Dukes Bar
Dukes Hotel, 35 St James’s Place, London SW1
Negroni was first blended with Caffè Casoni in Florence in 1919. Count Camillo Negroni concocted it by asking the bartender, Fosco Scarselli, to boost his favorite cocktail, the Americano, by adding gin rather than l normal sparkling water.
To be part of the centenary celebrations marking the creation of this iconic drink, and to add a local London touch of Dukes, I created The Londinium, using ingredients from Sacred spirits, a Highgate-based distillery.
Pour all the ingredients together in a small highball glass with ice, stir and garnish with an organic orange slice
London Martini, by Max and Noel Venning from Three Sheets
510b Kingsland Road, London E8
We wanted to create something from our bar, Three leaves, which looked like London, using local produce. For us, it had to be a martini: they represent London perfectly. Clean, strong and subtle in flavor but straight to the point.
We used Victory gin, from an award winning distillery in Walthamstow, and Vault vermouth – a British vermouth made from English wine. The hint of beet alcohol adds an earthy note to the cocktail that reminds us of the smell before an early summer downpour.
Combine the ingredients in a cocktail glass with ice; stir until cold and strain into martini glass. Garnish with a slice of marinated rainbow beetroot
Bitter orange, by Denis Broci from Claridge’s Bar
Claridge’s, Brook Street, London W1
The drink I created for Claridge’s is called Bitter Orange – a variation of the classic Negroni, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2019 and is one of the best-selling cocktails in London (and the world).
To me, the components of Bitter Orange are cosmopolitan and represent the diversity of London. I used Beefeater gin, made in London, alongside French and Italian ingredients. Amazon-inspired Muyu Vetiver Gris is intensely aromatic (vetiver is a key element in many fragrances) and has notes of timur pepper, patchouli, small grains and cedarwood.
Stir all the ingredients and pour over a block of ice. Decorate with an orange piece
The globetrotter, by Brian Silva from Rules
34-35 Maiden Lane, London WC2
We have clients all over the world at Rules, our classic bar upstairs in the restaurant, and they often ask for an off-menu or a tailor-made cocktail. This recipe is called The Globetrotter because I was inspired by our global customer base and because it is tailor-made for FT Globetrotter.
The Globetrotter is a take on Manhattan, pairing American bourbon with a few Italian appetizers – perfect for a late night cocktail after dinner or at the theater. I’ve been mixing vermouth with appetizers and other herbal spirits for a long time, and I always love to create twists on classic cocktails. It is finished with a hint of Islay malt whiskey, which adds a light smoke to the drink. If you are doing this at home, add a few drops to the blackberry garnish. Or better yet, come order one in person – this drink is featured on our new menu.
Add all the ingredients to an ice-cold mixing glass. Stir to dilute and cool for 20 seconds. Strain into a large ice-cold ice-glass. Garnish with a blackberry and spray or place on top of the whiskey
Hawksmoor Calling, by Liam Davy of Hawksmoor
5A Air Street, London W1
My career as a bartender in London has been mostly in the West End, and the essence of the city for me has always been to scamper after hours, drink cocktails at Milk and honey, eat Chinese at 3 in the morning in 1997 or try to enter Trisha’s place.
As a 23-year-old earning minimum wage (plus tips!), Being able to sit in a stand at Milk & Honey – at the time the best bar in the world – and drink their unrivaled cocktails until the hour Closed on a Friday night was the height of sophistication and definition of my first London experience. the London call, a sour little gin designed by bartender Chris Jepson, was a perennial favorite – and we created a tribute to him at Hawksmoor Air Street (a modern West End institution)
This drink uses London’s best Beefeater gin infused with chamomile and honey, and made into a simple Collins-style cocktail with manzanilla sherry, lemon and soda.
For the gin: Brew four chamomile tea bags (or 5g of loose flowers) in a 700ml bottle of gin. Strain the tea, add 250 g of honey and stir until dissolved. Keep refrigerated
Pour all the ingredients into a highball glass with ice cubes and stir. Decorate with baby’s breath (as seen above), a borage flower or a lemon zest
Flamingo All-Nighter, by Rachel Reid of Swift Soho
12 Old Compton Street, London W1
Our London-inspired cocktail is based on the Flamingo Club, a nightclub on Wardour Street, Soho, in the 1950s and 1960s near our bar Fast it’s today. The Flamingo was a popular live music venue, where famous musicians such as members of the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix hung out and listened to jazz and R&B. It has become a meeting place for diverse music and cultures, and a haven against racial prejudice (it was one of the few places at the time to employ black musicians).
As we emerge from the long lockdown of winter and spring, we hope to welcome parties and concerts back into our lives. Our drink, The Flamingo All-Nighter, is what we think is the perfect libation to savor while we do it.
Mix all the ingredients, shake with ice and pass in a refrigerated coupe
At the time of publication, bars and restaurants in London are open both indoors and outdoors for groups of up to six people. The usual caveats apply: please check websites and hours of operation carefully, call ahead and do additional research
What’s your favorite London-inspired drink? Share yours in the comments
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