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Ahead of London Cocktail Week (LCW) from 3 – 9 October, we at Vada have been on the look-out across London for our favourite cocktails. Anyone who is anyone in the bartending world should be preparing their own special concoction to present during LCW cocktail, but that said there are still many delicious offerings available in the run up to this event.
For those looking for an alternative watering hole this month in London, here are Vada’s favourite 4 recommendations of where to drink.
The Gallery, West Hampstead
The Gallery in West Hampstead is known locally for its whiskey collection, with over 100 bottles behind the bar. Whilst The Gallery may initially appear to appeal only to whiskey aficionados, you only need ask for the cocktail menu to find they are welcoming to all drinkers. All cocktails are priced at £8.50. Ask for either the ‘Spiced Rye’ (made from Rittenhouse Rye, Cardamom, lemon, bitters and egg white), the mint julep made with Evan Williams Bourbon, or for anyone who likes an Old Fashioned the ‘A La Louisiana’ (made from Rittenhouse Rye, Vermouth, Benedictine, bitters and absinthe).
Our favourite: A La Louisiana – sip gently and be prepared to order a second.
Located at: 190 Broadhurst Gardens, West Hampstead, NW6 3AY
GǑNG, Shangri-La at The Shard
GŌNG, on the 52nd floor of The Shard is the highest bar in Western Europe. Bar Manager Fabio Dal Bosco and Head Bartender Christian Maspes have developed the Circle of Life cocktail menu, which is designed to reflect different stages of life. ‘The Asian Explorer’ (made from Tanqueray 10, mushroom-infused Madeira, Nigori sake, coconut and Ginseng) served in a banana-leaf wrapped bottle is vey much a marmite choice – you either love or hate it. ‘Nothing But Bubbles’ is more than a few bubbles, made from Bentianna, Cocchi Amaro, Campari, coriander seed syrup, Jenever and topped with bubbles, this is a playful take on a Negroni with added fizz. If you can overlook the £18 price tag per cocktail, you’ll be looking over the best view of London, which would make for quite the sunset on a clear night.
In addition to the Circle of Life menu, the GONG team have created, Edgar, an aromatic whiskey cocktail for LCW – priced at £10 for LCW wristband wearers. Edgar is made from Mitcher’s American whiskey, Kupyer XO Apricot Brandy, Fernet Branca (a bitter herbal liqueur), coffee and saffron syrup, and lavender bitters, served on ice with edible gold leaf.
Our favourite: My First Painting – because it’s spritzed with glitter of course.
Located at: Floor 52, Shagri-La Hotel, The Shard, SE1 9QU
Bourne & Hollingsworth
Bourne & Hollingsworth is very much a cocktail institution, which has a regularly refreshed menu, priced £8 – £10 per drink. The B&H bar on Rathbone Place is a basement, prohibition style venue. The atmosphere rests comfortably between that of a gentleman’s club and a chintzy 1920s tearoom. It is currently undergoing renovation, and will have a new look by October, so we’re hoping none of the quaint quirkiness is lost in the process.
The larger venue, Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings is considered to have one of the most beautiful interiors for a London bar and restaurant – most notably the greenhouse. You will be hard pressed not to relax in this city-centre venue. Whether you order a Bloom (made with gin, violet liqueur, Aperol and fresh lemon), an Episcopal – B&H’s take on the Pisco Sour, the Gardener’s Jasmine Royale (made from gin, green tea, lemon and topped with bubbles) or anything else off the menu, the bartenders do not disappoint.
Our favourite: All of them – we’ll let you decide your favourite
B&H Bar is located at: 28 Rathbone Place, W1T 1JF
B&H Buildings is located at: 42 Northampton Road, EC1R 0HU
Now fully established in the locale, Barrio Brixton is the latest addition to the brand, which has other outfits in Angel, Soho and Shoreditch. Whether you want to dine in a customised vintage caravan, or on the terrace, Barrio Brixton’s interior, adorned by work from local artists is something to admire whilst dining. Whilst you will predominantly visit Barrio for a Mexican meal, their love of tequilas, mezcals, piscos and rums offers many sunny spirits. The very quaffable cocktail South Sea Sour (£8.50), made from Beefeater Gin, cointreau, pineapple, grenadine, lemon and bitters, stood out on our list.
Our favourite: South Sea Sour – forget etiquette and ask for a pitcher!
Located at: 30 Acre Lane, Brixton, SW2 5SG