December is just around the corner and what better time to explore London’s best bars and restaurants than by celebrating with a festive cocktail or two?
From limited-edition Christmas cocktails (madeleines with bourbon anyone?) to ‘actually nice’ mulled wine – here are Sauce’s recommendations for where to drink this festive season, as well as a few recipes to recreate at home.
THE TIPSY MADELEINE
Behind the bar of one of Covent Garden’s best kept secrets, head bartender and mixologist extraordinaire Anais Bertin is whipping up some of the city’s coolest cocktails. This Christmas, she has crafted the Tipsy Madeleine (£14), named after the freshly baked Parisian-style madeleine cakes she uses, infusing them with Buffalo Trace Bourbon. Combined, the smoky, oak-barrelled bourbon takes on the sweetness of the madeleine, before being strained, shaken with Frangelico and strained again. It’s liquid dessert, pure enjoyment. Served with a madeleine crumble rim.
GINGLE ALL THE WAY
Swoop into the spirit of the season at competitive socialising venue Swingers – the perfect spot for fun-fuelled festivities. Get merry with Swingers’ special cocktail Gingle all the way (£10) featuring Tanqueray London Gin, lemon juice, homemade spiced blackberry liqueur with red wine and brandy. Available at both Swingers City and West End. Also enjoy Swingers’ epic selection of street food; From a Patty and Bun Blue Cheese special, to a Crispy Duck Taco from Breddos and a Terry’s Chocolate Orange Calzone from Pizza Pilgrims – there’s something for everyone! You can also enjoy a selection of Crosstown Doughnut Christmas specials, including Mulled wine and Cointreau custard, and Spiced apple with miso caramel flavours.
To book: https://swingers.club/
THE HOT MEZZ
Dirty Bones (£10)
The burger hub of London, Dirty Bones, is inspired by the ever-evolving restaurant and bar scene of NYC. On the menu this festive season is a variety of cocktails, where you can combine comfort food with the delicious cocktails. The Hot Mezz is abold & feisty lil’ number with Montelobos Joven Mezcal, Giffard Peach de Vigne Liqueur, cinnamon syrup, celery bitters, lime, chilli salt garnish. All shaken and iced. The gimlet cocktail has a little dose of NYC and a lot of added love with some festive cheer.
To book: https://dirty-bones.com/
LET IT SNOW
Artesian Bar at The Langham, London (£19)
In celebration of the Cinderella-inspired decorations at The Langham, London this Christmas, Artesian bar will be offering a selection of festive cocktails for guests to enjoy, including the Let it Snow, a creamy cocktail with vanilla notes and hints of citrus. The menu also includes Off To The Ball; a dry martini style cocktail with floral notes, and The Glass Slipper; a clear old fashioned-style cocktail with earthy notes.
Each night, as the clock strikes midnight, a miniature alarm clock will sound on each table and all guests will be served a complimentary festive tipple – the perfect night cap!
Let it Snow recipe at home:
40ml Belvedere Vodka
20ml Disaronno Velvet
20ml Cacao Blanc
20ml Vanilla Syrup
Pour the ingredients into a shaker with ice, shake and strain. Garnish with grated lime and pink glitter
To book: https://www.artesian-bar.co.uk/
Norma, Fitzrovia (£13)
This Christmas, Norma in Fitzrovia will welcome guests for Sicilian-inspired festive dining. Alongside the Christmas feasting menus by Executive Head Chef Giovann Attard, guests can enjoy seasonal cocktails including Sirocco (£13), a warm festive tipple that celebrates the Sicilian fortified wine, Marsala.
To book: https://normalondon.com
THE PX-PRESSO MARTINI
This winter, Ibérica – the leading Spanish restaurant group – has launched the PXpresso Martini (£10.50), a decadent Spanish twist on the classic coffee cocktail. The perfect after dinner cocktail, the PXpresso Martini features 42 Below vodka, coffee liquor, cranberry juice, freshly brewed coffee andis infused with festive spirit of choice, Pedro Ximénez Sherry Néctar.
CHAMPAGNE – SERVED STRAIGHT
Coravin Wine & Bubbles Bar (£8 – £850 a glass)
Needing no explanation – this is the Christmas classic. Served cold, sparkling, and by the glass at Coravin’s new Mayfair wine bar, where there are 50 varieties of Champagne to choose from: all available by the glass. Ranging from £8 – £850 a pop there is something for everyone. Using the COravin Sparkling system – the world’s leading Champagne preservation tool, keeping open bottles for four full weeks – the team pop the corks on some of the world’s most sought-after bottles, bringing fizz fans something special to explore this winter: from Krug to Dom Perignon, Egly Ouriet to Bereche and Veuve Fourny.
Price: £8 – £850 a glass
Isabel Mayfair (£22)
Luxury Russian vodka brand Beluga Vodka is helping Londoners get into the festive spirit with its brand-new Festive Martini Menu, launching at the sumptuous and sophisticated Mayfair restaurant, Isabel, from 25th November. For those seeking a fun, festive flavour, Gingerbread Martini (£22) pairs Beluga’s smooth, triple-distilled Noble Vodka with the warming, spiced notes of Kingsdown Ginger Beer, accentuated by sharp lemon juice to create a flavourful yet balanced serve for a grown up take on the Christmas treat.
Beluga Vodka’s Festive Martini Menu will be available at Isabel, Mayfair, 25th November – 25th December
To book: No bookings are taken for the bar area at Isabel but walk-ins are welcomed
BENOIT’S MULLED WINE
American Bar at The Stafford (£12.50)
The renowned American Bar at The Stafford will be offering guests a warming mulled wine this Christmas made using Bar Manager Benoit Provost’s special recipe. Available from 29th November – best enjoyed in front of a roaring fire after a long day exploring the city.
Benoit’s Mulled Wine Recipe to make at home:
1 bottle of light red wine (Merlot is perfect)
150ml of Brandy
2 cinnamon sticks
3 bay leaves
Slice the orange and stick the cloves into it. Take a casserole dish or saucepan and add all of the ingredients, except the sugar. Add the sugar a little at a time, ensuring it dissolves fully. Cover and simmer, being careful not to bring to the boil as the mulled wine will turn bitter. Serve warm in a glass
‘ACTUALLY NICE’ MULLED WINE
Shop Cuvée (£16.99)
Shop Cuvée’s ‘Actually Nice’ mulled wine – has made a comeback following last year’s resounding success. Available to purchase in-store and online, the mulled wine is an incredibly delicate and perfectly balanced combination of young Rioja, Sicilian White Wine, Nutmeg, Clove, Star Anise, Cinnamon, Frankincense, Honey, Orange, Lemon Peel and a pinch of Xmas Joy. The perfect winter beverage to warm your cockles, all you need to do to enjoy at home is warm gently in a pan and serve with a slice of orange. Alternatively, head down to Top Cuvée in North London, or Shop Cuvée in Bethnal Green where the team will be serving up the mulled wine to drink in or takeaway.
To buy: https://www.shopcuvee.com/ or enjoy at Top Cuvée or Shop Cuvée Bethnal Green
Top Cuvée: 177B Blackstock Road, London N5 2LL
Shop Cuvée North: 189 Blackstock Road, London N5 2LL
Shop Cuvée East: 250A Bethnal Green Road, London E2 0AA
Price: £16.99 per bottle