This article was published in 2013. See our recommendations for 2014 here.
Winter is well and truly here, and it’s frickin’ cold. Official advice from the Department of Health says that to avoid large fuel bills we should only heat the rooms we are in, and keep warm with hot food and drinks*. We don’t think this is what they had in mind, but it would certainly do the trick. Here are some cocktails to warm the cockles...
Reverend JW Simpson
After being home to the vicar in the title, this Goodge Street bar was a brothel before it became a cocktail haunt. The only hot action you’ll find there now is on the menu, though. The Festive Flip combines homemade Douglas Fir Christmas tree liqueur, port, dark rum and fresh ginger, shaken together with a whole egg and topped with grated nutmeg.
You can’t really be seen sipping an espresso martini on your way into work, but you probably could get away with this. The guys at this hip coffee shop on the Old Street roundabout have created a Hot Flat White Russian. See what they did there. It combines rum coffee liqueur and warm milk, finished off with the requisite cocoa powder.
This sky-high bar in the Tower of London Hilton Hotel has created a whole toddy menu. Included is the Kuddle Kracken made with the dark Caribbean rum that's in the name, ginger syrup, cinnamon, cloves and butter. The Coconut Chai Hot Toddy mixes rum with coconut milk, chai tea and cardamom for a creamy, exotic concoction.
Not to be confused with the above, this newly launched rooftop bar in London Fields comes from Platterform who previously brought us Skyroom in London Bridge. This is a Swiss ski chalet, East London style. Hot drinks here include the signature Hands-on-Gretel hot spiced cider and a ginger hot toddy. In the cold-department, try a Lumberjack Beard Oil bottle-aged Manhattan cocktail, too.
Styled The Candy Store, this temporary upstairs space at the Shoreditch drinking den has a number of ice-melting bevvies on the go this winter. The Fresh & Min’tea wins the naming game, taking fresh mint leaves and whisky then topping it up with hot water for something that’s not a million miles away from a mojito. It’s served in a teacup, natch.
Harvey Nichols Fifth Floor
Warm temperature tipples at this glamorous Knightsbridge bar include an Hibiscus Rum Punch packed with honey and lime for a taste that’s more tropical than well-heeled West London, and the Nice and Naughty, which combines vodka, caramel liqueur, cranberry, cinnamon, rose syrup and, erm, sauvignon blanc. Your ordinary mulled wine, it is not.
Branches of this Bombay café in Covent Garden and Shoreditch will both be putting on a Christmas chai menu for the winter season. Drinks include a chai eggnog, a bourbon-spiked dark chocolate chai, a Bailey’s chai, and a cognac version for good measure.
Tucked away under Kentish Town’s Kentish Canteen, this Irish cocktail lair is known for its poitin, a popular Irish moonshine that was illegal in the country for centuries. We doubt that centuries ago it was mixed with a fig liqueur and served warm with orange peel to make a classy winter cocktail as it is here, but they also pour it straight up should that be the experience you’re after.
This Thursday, Friday and Saturday night street food fest in Dalston is an underground carpark, so you’ll need something more than a coat to keep you warm. Luckily, they have a few options. If a hot Negroni with added spices sounds both bloody good and bloody dangerous, then make what you will of an absinthe-laden hot chocolate…
Another street food special, Hawker House is Street Feast’s home for the winter, open every Friday and Saturday in Hackney. It comes complete with a dedicated Hot Bar, featuring buttered rum, mulled wine, a warm vodka drink, and a hot chocolate laced with cognac and green chartreuse. Not for the faint hearted.
*Sorry for the link to The Mail there, at least you know where you can get a drink to get over it...