Lush London: Unusual Drinks From Literature, Film And TV

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London can be a tough city to survive in, and sometimes a slug of sauce helps takes the edge off. Fictional Londoners – the famous and the less-celebrated – have quaffed a few strange concoctions before now; here are some of the most curious. Don’t try them all at once. And probably don’t try some of them at all.

Gin and pep: Jenny, Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky

Hangover Square’s borderline alcoholic George Harvey Bone is the most notorious character to materialise from the mind of Patrick Hamilton. However, it’s the young prostitute Jenny, from Hamilton’s Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky, who has the knack for dreaming up drink oddities. When she walks into the Fitzrovia pub where bartender Bob works, she’s feeling a bit peaky and orders a ‘gin and pep’. This marks the beginning of Bob’s downfall. It’ll mark yours too, if you have more than a couple.

How to make it: Simply mix together gin and peppermint cordial in equal measures. Then proceed with wrecking the life of a naïve bartender.

Smoking Bishop: Ebeneezer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol

The newly-reformed Scrooge never actually drinks a Smoking Bishop, but he does propose it: “…we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob!” So, then, what’s in this dubiously named brew? It’s basically a potent mulled wine; the sort of Yuletide punch that would put hairs on Father Christmas’s beard. Alternatives to the below recipe include a Smoking Archbishop (made with claret), Smoking Beadle (ginger wine), Smoking Cardinal (champagne) and Smoking Pope (burgundy).

How to make it: Stir and heat port, red wine, citrus fruit, sugar and spices. There’s a bit more to it than that if you want to make it properly. A full Smoking Bishop recipe can be found here.

Caribbean Stallion: Del Boy, Only Fools and Horses

When Del Boy wasn’t busy falling through the bar, he was regularly to be found propping it up. The Danger Mouse-voiced, tax-evading wide boy’s tipple of choice was the garish Caribbean Stallion – the sort of cocktail that would make a Club 18-30 rep blush. If you ordered this drink in Peckham now it’d probably cost you about £30 (it’s got tequila, Malibu, crème de menthe and Campari in it). Therefore, this is definitely a DIY jobbie.

How to make it: ShortList published a recipe and method for Caribbean Stallion. Cushty.

Moloko Plus: Alex and his droogs, A Clockwork Orange

“They had no license for selling liquor, but there was no law yet against prodding some of the new veshches which they used to put into the old moloko, so you could peet it with vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom…” What Alex from Anthony Burgess’ dystopian London masterpiece is trying to say, is that he drinks milk with drugs in it. We would never suggest you do narcotics, least of all blend them with dairy products. But there are some sensible(ish) Moloko Plus cocktails you can try at home.

How to make it: A full Moloko Plus recipe is never recorded in A Clockwork Orange, but online versions usually feature absinthe as a base. Try this take on Alex’s tipple, and whatever you do, don’t drink it while listening to Beethoven.

Pretty much everything: Withnail, Withnail and I

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The holy grail of all drinking games is undoubtedly the Withnail and I one. As you can see by this list, it’s also lethal. The good news for Londonist readers is that we’re only concerned with the booze Withnail imbibes in London. Still, if it’s a Sunday evening and you’re heavily pregnant, probably best stick to the Tropicana.

How to make it: More like how to make it through without being sick. Here’s what you’ll have to guzzle (and in this order too, thank you very much): one mouthful of red wine; one shot of ‘lighter fluid’ (overproof rum will do); one double gin; three fingers of cider (with ice); a glass of sherry followed by two big chugs of sherry followed by a mouthful of sherry followed by a sip of sherry; four gulps of ’53 Margaux. Still with us? Hello?

What’s your fictional London drink of choice? Let us know!

By Will Noble

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  • OffDutyBill

    Nice piece!