If there’s any time of year ripe for indulgence, it’s Christmas. The flavours of the festive period are synonymous with luxury: chocolate, nuts and rich spices. Now, for one month only, top bartenders are distilling these flavours (and a generous helping of Christmas spirit) into their cocktails.
Some are taking the classic approach, as with Bar Termini’s ever-popular Panettone Bellini, and some are going for full-on indulgence, like at The Bling Pig where they’re serving up the Gingerbread Crush (bourbon, genever and gingerbread and barley honey syrup, served with a gingerbread biscuit). Even one of the best bars in the world is joining in the festive fun, Tayer + Elementary placed second in this year’s World’s 50 Best Bars competition and is serving a sleek Mince Pie Negroni as part of its latest seasonal menu.
So, if you’re bar hopping in the UK capital this December, catch these inventive Christmas cocktails on the menus of some of the city’s most brilliant bars.
10 terrific Christmas cocktails from top London bars
Mince Pie Negroni
In typical Tayer + Elementary style, you’d never guess what was lurking beneath the sleek glassware and clarified ice cubes in this cocktail. A classic Negroni combination of gin, Campari and vermouth is stirred on ice with the rich winter spices and fruit associated with the traditional Christmas snack.
Playful concepts are de rigour at Shoreditch bar Callooh Callay, and their festive menu is no exception. Their Champagne Martini takes a more classic approach (but don’t miss the candy cane garnish for a touch of fun), starting with a case of Beefeater gin and Noilly Prat vermouth, a splash of Tip Pepe, honey water and orange bitters, then topped up with Moët & Chandon fizz.
Known for its old-school Soho interior and with the atmosphere of a classic Italian café, it’s no surprise that Bar Termini’s festive offering is decidedly trad Italiano. For Christmas 2022, the bar has brought back its classic Panettone Bellini – made with just Panettone purée, almonds and Prosecco.
Inspired by forest fir trees, Bethnal Green’s Coupette is serving up its Lost Path cocktail with a scoop of blackcurrant sorbet. In this refreshing drink, Calvados XO is muddled with Douglas Fir, nettle, spruce soda, and is topped with festive bubbles in the form of Moët & Chandon Brut.
if you prefer your festive drinking to go alongside disco dancing, head to Sweeties at the top of The Standard hotel in King’s Cross. The Payback is labelled as ‘silk and smooth’ on the menu, combining Hennessy VS Cognac, roasted chestnut, apple and hay ferment, rosemary and bonfire tincture for a sweet yet smoky and decidedly wintry drinking experience.
Fans of cult favourite hazelnut liqueur Frangelico, rejoice – at Clerkenwell Italian spot Luca, it’s been shaken into a perfect post-dinner sour. The star of this Christmas cocktail – that nutty Northern Italian Frangelico – meets with French Seven Tails brandy and a clean lick of lemon juice before being garnished with bitters and an Amaretti biscuit.
Jason Atherton’s speakeasy bar, The Blind Pig, hidden above his Social Eating House restaurant has been releasing fairy-tale-inspired cocktail menus for the best part of a year, and this latest ‘volume’ focuses on winter festivities. The Gingerbread Crush takes inspiration from the tale of Hansel and Gretel (no breadcrumbs, don’t worry) and sees Buffalo Trace bourbon and barrel-aged genever combined with gingerbread and barley honey syrup, and topped with orange bitters and saline solution.
Christmas is a big deal at Common Decency, the NoMad hotel bar. As part of their Holiday Spectacular, you can expect to find a myriad of festive drinks based around a key ingredient and split into ‘naughty’ and ‘nice’ iterations. You can sip on a Scrooge Sour (Jameson Black Barrel, fresh lemon, egg white and mulled wine, shaken into a sour and served with a gold dust to garnish) while listening to a ‘holiday disco’ soundtrack provided by some of the capital’s best party-starting DJs.
Hot Walnut Buttered Rum
The speakeasy-style bar’s Christmas cocktail offering comes in the form of a dessert-like hot walnut buttered rum, made with Cuban Eminente Reserva 7 Year Old rum and Nightjar’s own walnut butter, a splash of Pedro Ximénez, roasted coffee beans, pecan maple syrup and earthy Ayuuk Empirical Spirit.