The clocks have gone back, the trees are bare and there’s a chance you leave the house in the dark and return in a similar state of inky blackness. But instead of yearning for long summer days, take solace in the fact that the winter months offers a fabulous opportunity for some creative cocktails. We’ve rounded up some of the best tipples that will have you saying ‘cheers’ to shorter days, while celebrating the bounty of the season.
Man on Fire
Where once there was Mr Lyan, now there is Super Lyan… and like what came before, it’s still committed to intriguing and delighting palates with creative concoctions that are sustainable and eco-friendly (think bamboo straws and ingredients that are might be a byproduct of one of the dishes served above in Cub.)
For cold, wintry nights we’re retreating to this basement bar and sipping on the Man on Fire – a smoky, soothing and altogether boozy combination of Dewar’s 12 Scotch Whisky, Ancho Reyes, Del Maguey Vida, lemon and pine honey. The lemon and honey has us thinking of Hot Toddies, while the Ancho Reyes chilli liqueur adds enough of a kick to wake up our tastebuds on a gloomy evening.
You want seasonal cocktails? Head to Scout in Shoreditch. Every drink on the menu is a whole-hearted celebration of the glorious produce in the British Isles, with many of the ingredients obtained from neighbourhoods in London. The menu changes daily, adapting to seasonal produce from various foragers, farmers and growers, and what’s more they have a strong focus on creating minimal waste.
This amber beauty is the Walnut Leaf – the star ingredient of which comes directly from Holloway. It’s mixed with gin, chestnut syrup, bitters, and Fino Sherry to create a deliciously rich and satisfying sip that will see you through into December.
What better time for cosiness and nostalgia than winter – and indeed, what better time to retreat to a subterranean cocktail bar that plays host to live jazz, flickers with the golden glow of candles, and basically makes you feel like you’ve entered one of the more glamorous episodes of Poirot?
This is exactly the effect of Nightjar, and one cocktail that should not be missed is the Forest Floor. Made up of Glenfiddich 12 Year, Hennessy FDC, Holy Syrup, Birch & Mushroom Soda, Apple Ice Wine, clementine and masthia, there’s no doubt this cocktail channels the earthy, woody, fruity tastes that evoke a stark woodland in the last days of autumn.
If you’re anything like us, December has you craving sugary, silky and sumptuous cocktails that are going to help you with a bit of winter padding. Well, it’s protection against the cold, right? And vintage-inspired bar 146 Paddington have the answer in their Snow White cocktail.
This frivolous fancy is a mix of Absolut Vodka, Kahlua and double cream, creating a velvet-smooth cocktail with a hint of coffee, topped with fluffy marshmallows and dusted with cocoa powder. Sweet and luxurious, it’s the perfect after-dinner drink on a chilly night. And there just aren’t enough excuses to eat marshmallows these days, so having them soaked in booze and coffee works just fine for us.
Hot Buttered Sherry
Ah, sherry – previously the domain of grandmas and maiden aunts, now a ruby rich, delicious addition to cocktails that gets us well and truly in the seasonal spirit. And Sack, the specialist sherry bar has launched a menu of sherry cocktails perfect for the chilly months.
One winter warmer we’ll be ordering is the Hot Buttered Sherry – a mix of Fino, the darker Amontillado, and PX, alongside brandy butter, cider and that essential festive addition, mulling spices. When sipped inside Sack’s cosy, taverna-style bar complete with flickering candles, even the most stone-hearted Scrooge couldn’t fail to feel merry.
Umami Old Fashioned
The transition from November into December demands long, autumnal walks through one of London’s many parks, frost crackling underfoot and smoke on the crisp air.
And for a completely unique cocktail that captures the essence of loamy, woodland elements, look no further than the Umami Old Fashioned. With its mix of Glenmorangie 10yrs slowly cooked with porcini mushrooms, apricot brandy and cardamom bitters, each sip evokes a wander in the autumnal evening air. Plus, who wouldn’t want an excuse to head to such an iconic London venue for a cocktail?
If there are two flavours that summarise the festive season for us, they’re citrus and chocolate. The former because of the obligatory tangerine at the bottom of the stocking, and the latter because when the year ends we’re pretty sure we’re half chocolate.
Enter the Everglade from Oriole – a heady mix of Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Amaro Di Angostura, chocolate agrodolce, mandarin juice and chartreuse absinthe for that extra kick. Like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange but just that more boozy and totally delicious.