Category Archives: Blog

The best cocktails in London

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White Lyan – king of the cocktail jungle?

Do you hate it when you get to the end of the drink and all you’ve got left are watery dregs? Or when a Mojito is just a tad too sour for your taste buds? Fear not when sipping at White Lyan the creators have done away with ice and citrus in their quest to find the perfectly balanced cocktail.

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Oriental cocktails and high tea (quite literally)

Since opening just over a years ago, the creative team at Hutong have proved they’re not just reliant on breathtaking scenery, consequently, they’ve established a firm following for their inventive cocktails based on elements of Chinese medicine.

But there’s no resting on laurels here – bars manager Myles Donneky and new Hutong bar manager Filippo Testa are determined to push boundaries in a quest for superior drinks. Hence the recent overhaul of the cocktail list – with some very unique additions.

‘Bing Cha’ means ‘iced tea’, and this is the theme of the first page of libations, since tea-houses are more popular in Chinese culture than trendy coffee places and handlebar moustaches are in East London. Each leaf has a specific character, and so plays differently on the palate – vital to consider and respect when mixing with alcohol.

Jade Emperor
Shanghai Vines

Working closely with the First Lady of Tea, Henrietta Lovell from The Rare Tea Company, Myles and Filipo have carefully considered which spirits would match the nuances of each individual leaf. The result? A list of four wonderfully enticing fusions combining the best of Chinese flavours.

And there’s an aesthetic treat to the proceedings, too. When the cocktails arrive they are presented in beautiful, heavy Chinese teapots, plump and round like a Buddha belly and emitting such glorious little jets of steam that you expect them to be whistling.

Wait, steam? Isn’t this iced tea?

Never fear, this is part of the presentation. Each concoction is served over dry ice which makes for a real spectacle when the drink is being poured into the little traditional Chinese cups.

So what innovative combinations are we presented with? Well, for starters there’s the Fujian Breeze, which includes white silver tip tea, Hendricks Gin, Fernet Branca and mint. This is one of the most delicate of teas, with a grassy freshness that is evident in the taste. There’s a gentle medicinal quality that finishes with a zing of mint on the tongue. It makes for a perfect palate cleanser (for more cocktails, naturally.)

The Moli Hua is a more perfumed offering, balancing the floral jasmine tea with vodka, egg white and peach bitters – it’s this last ingredient that makes for a real fragrant, fruity treat. The Keemun Guo meanwhile is a mix of lychee liqueur, Grand Marnier and oranges with Keemun tea. The smoky black leaf and zesty orange gives it a lovely rounded sensation and zingy freshness.

Hutong at The Shard

Finally, we tried the Shuanglong which, if we had to choose, was our favourite. The woody Oolong tea combined with three different whiskies, honey and Chinese chives make for a sweet and smokey, yet delicate cocktail.

These drinks are all beautifully considered, delicious, and so gosh darn fresh and tasty, if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to try a soothing cocktail then Bing Cha are the way to go.

And let’s not forget the remaining creations on the cocktail menu. For those wanting a twist on classics there’s the Red Snapper, and we can heartily recommend the Hutong Julep, bourbon, blood orange and goji berries for a balance of sweet earthiness. If a well made Cosmo tickles your fancy, there’s the Red Phoenix – cachaça infused with tamarind and mandarin juice for an extra kick.

Another favourite is the Jade Emperor, a knock-out cocktail that combines ginseng spirit, Midori and Chinese five spice for a satisfying, complex and delicious drink.

The new menu at Hutong manages to be creative and innovative without losing sight of what a good cocktail should be: a glorious combination of flavours that make your taste buds cheer.

Rebecca Milford

 

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Communion Bar, preaching the good word of the cocktail

As themed establishments go, this one is new on us – a subterranean space that holds the title of being the only stained-glass window bar in London. Enjoy thoroughly unique and artisan libations while admiring the hand-crafted tiles, church candles and complimentary wine and wafers that give Communion its name.

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Dandelyan, the hot new bar coming soon from Ryan Chetiyawardana

Something splendid is taking shape on the South Bank. And
we’re not talking about the cleaned-up walkway… Remember
Sea Containers house, that big but dated and if we’re being completely honest, rather ugly office space parked somewhere between Oxo Tower and Blackfriars Bridge? Well, it’s been
given the mother of all overhauls and will be opening as a lush
hotel at the end of September.

We know, we know, London’s not exactly starved of fabulously designed hotels these days but if you’re as into your cocktails as
we are, trust us, Mondrian London at Sea Containers is one you’ll want to have on your radar.

It will be home to Dandelyan, the latest venture from Ryan Chetiyawardana and the White Lyan crew. And it’s going to be another corker. A word of warning though, if you’re expecting
more of the no ice, no citrus, no shaky, shaky cocktails we’ve all
come to know and love from the team, you’d better stick to their award-winning east London outpost – they’re doing things differently down by the river.

Modern botany is what it’s all about here. You’ll still get the creativity but Dandelyan, like the name implies, will have a
twisted green feel. “We like to break things down then build
them back up again whilst challenging perceptions,” says Ryan
in a rare moment in between meetings and fine-tuning of the
bar which is set to open in the last week of September.

He’s with Nathan O’Neill, formerly of The Merchant  Hotel in
Belfast and latterly Milk & Honey in London, now head bartender and assistant bar manager at Dandelyan. While the pair are happy
to share most of the information regarding the look and feel of
their new baby, there are still certain elements under wraps. Like
the design of the menu which is very hush-hush: “it’s very visual and
has been designed for customers to engage with at every level – whether they’re out-and-out drinks geeks or just regular consumers,” says Ryan teasingly.

They will talk about the drinks though. “I’ve worked for over a
year on the menu, sending emails to Ryan every day” Nathan explains. “It’s divided into four sections: Cereal, Mineral, Vegetal
and Floral, with light, aromatic drinks that have been formulated to appeal to a broad range of palates.”

Expect the likes of Puffed Grains and Chocolate (Mr Lyan x
Dewar’s 12 Scotch, toasted grain soda, chocolate, curaçao and
pink peppercorn); Patchouli Fizz (Beefeater London Garden Gin, basil, apricot, green tea, lemon, lemon and quinine); South Bank (Bacardi Heritage Edition, lemon verbena, lemon, grapefruit and honey bitters and pink salt soda), and Crystal Lyan (sparkling
Grey Goose vodka, crystal peach nectar, tilia blossom and vanilla).

With Tom Dixon running things on the interior-side, you know
it’s going to be a looker. “The bar is going to encapsulate the essence of the whole hotel,” says Ryan. “Expect the grandeur of transatlantic travel, together with the luxury of Morgans hotels
all in a prime London location, overlooking the river.”
We can’t wait.

Dandelyan opens on 30th September at Mondrian London at Sea Containers, 20 Upper Ground, London SE1 9PD. T: 020 3747 1000. mondrianlondon.com