Angel's 64 Colebrooke Row cocktail bar - recently voted 27th in the world's 50 best bars – offers up, to those brave enough, the Terroir cocktail, a heady mix of distilled clay (yes, clay), flint and lichen served straight from the bottle. Utterly exquisite, but not for the faint hearted.
In west London. Nam Long, located in South Kensington, serves up dangerously strong cocktails (alongside Vietnamese cuisine), most notably the infamous Flaming Ferrari – an intoxicating blend of rum and Grand Marnier. Five young trader hotshots in the late 90s, one of whom was Jeffery Archer's son, even named themselves after this drink: their favourite late night tipple. Be sure to stick to the one cocktail, though, both for the sake of your liver and, at £19 a pop, your wallet.
For a few weeks this autumn, Soho's Central & Co took its influence for hard-hitting cocktails from some of our most-loved literature, ranging from Treasure Island, The Beautiful and the Damned, and Kerouac's On The Road 'Gold Rush' (pictured above). Obviously, the cocktails served for the latter were mostly short, dark, and strong. My personal favourites were the ‘Bancouevadier' (Rye, Campari and Sweet Vermouth, billed as one ‘for poets and dreamers') and the uber strong, ‘Cadillac Sazerac', a blend of bourbon, Cognac, bitters and absinthe.
Going one step further, the Brompton Bar (pictured above) is entirely dedicated to the Green Fairy. The bar offers a range of modern day, absinthe-infused cocktails – from ‘Death in the Afternoon' (champagne and absinthe Angelique, said to be Ernest Hemingway's afternoon drink of choice) to the ‘Absinthe Caipirihna' and ‘Morning Glory Fizz' (Absinthe La Clandestine, whisky, egg white, Angostura Bitters and soda, originally used as a hangover cure). For a more authentic experience, guests can enjoy their absinthe with help of The Drip – a large fountain full of ice-cold water that allows multiple participants to enjoy ‘The French Method' of consumption. Head here to embrace your inner tortured artist.
Meanwhile, Mizuwari Bar (under Bincho Yakitori in Soho) serves punters the very best in Japanese whiskies (yes, you read correctly, Japanese whisky) in a dark, wood-paneled space, complete with sultry lighting and cozy benches. The bar's name literally translates to ‘mix with water'. Mind-blowingly strong whisky cocktails - one of which contains Hibiki 12 whisky, maraschino, absinthe and zingy lemon zest - are as original as they are potent. Stomach-lining is necessary so order some delicious skewers of pork belly, chicken gizzard and eel alongside.
Neighbouring China Town bar, Opium, also deserves up cocktails with a kick alongside sumptuous grub (its also as hard to find as Mizuwari). But when you do finally uncover its mystical doorway, make sure you sample the Opium No 1 cocktial – a must-order a combination of Appleton VX rum, Wray & Nephew rum, absinthe, mandarin juice, lime juice, kaffir lime syrup and bitters, served over dry ice with a vial of ginseng essence. I can't stop craving them.
Speaking of obsessions, Mark's Bar at Hix Soho went as far as to create a cocktail dedicated to Breaking Bad. The ‘Heisenberg' takes its inspiration from the blue crystal meth that the TV show is known for, instead blending mezcal, calle 23, maraschino, lavender, blue curacao (nice touch), lime and sugar. The cocktail arrives served up in a large science beaker on a wooden board with a heaped helping of ‘blue sky' by the side. All right, all right, it's actually blue sherbet. Spoil sports.
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