Winter is well and truly here, and it’s frickin’ cold. You can ramp up the heating and put on woolly jumpers all you like, but as far as we’re concerned it’s nowhere near as fun as drinking some hot booze. Here’s our pick of cocktails to warm the cockles around London this winter.
Beer is the mainstay of this rowdy Old Street spot, but it has roped in some other Germanic staples for the chilly months. Pop by for a gluhwein or winter apple schnapps, served by the venue’s ‘Santa Frauleins’ — that's ladies dressed in provocative Santa suits, should you wonder.
Bavarian Beerhouse, 190 City Road, EC1V 2QH
A meat mecca in the heart of Covent Garden, Big Easy is also a haven for cocktails. This winter they’ve added a hottie to the list, meaning you can wash down your smoky grills, ribs and crabs with a classy take on mulled wine. The Belle And The Bishop is made with red wine, Madeira, bitters, cinnamon and ginger — and it’s about as toasty as they come.
Big Easy, 12 Maiden Lane, WC2E 7NA
Both the Bonnie Gull Seafood Shack in Fitzrovia and the Bonnie Gull Seafood Café on Exmouth Market are serving a take on the hot toddy this winter. It’s made with Louis Royer VSOP cognac, orange liqueur, bergamot syrup, lemon juice and a touch of salted butter. Take a seat at the bar, or add a dish such as fish and chips for the ultimate winter warmer.
Bonnie Gull Seafood Shack, 21a Foley Street, W1W 6DS
Bonnie Gull Seafood Café, 55-57 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QL
Read our review of Bonnie Gull Seafood Café here
All three branches of Bombay café Dishoom — in Covent Garden, Shoreditch and King’s Cross — are laying on a special chai menu for the winter season. Along with some non-alcoholic numbers, this includes a Baileys chai and a chocolate chai spiked with Bourbon. You can also get a glass of Winter Pimm’s, made with cloudy apple juice, cinnamon, cloves, pomegranate and lemon zest.
Dishoom Covent Garden, 12 Upper St Martin’s Lane, WC2H 9FB
Dishoom Shoreditch, 7 Boundary Street, E2 7JE
Dishoom King’s Cross, 5 Stable Street, N1C 4AB
Flesh & Buns
This good-time Covent Garden eatery has come up with a hot serve to accompany its steamed buns and Asian junk food: mulled sake. It’s made with sake, Japanese whisky, vanilla syrup, orange zest, cinnamon and star anise, and is bound to leave you feeling much warmer than London winters would normally permit.
Flesh & Buns, 41 Earlham Street, WC2H 9LX
Western Europe’s highest bar on level 52 of The Shard offers some hot city views — and throughout winter you can get some hot cocktails to go with them. Alongside hot toddies and Irish coffees, the bar team have created The Nutcracker, a blend of whisky, sweet Pedro Ximenez sherry and herbal liqueurs that’s a sort of posh mulled wine. It will set you back £17, but at least the views are free.
Gong, Level 52, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9QU
This Bermondsey Street bar is a safe bet for top-notch drinks, whether it’s wines, beers or cocktails you’re after. For the cold months, it’s upped its offering to include eggnog, mulled wine and hot toddies.
The Hide, 39-45 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3XF
Flee the chaos of Oxford Street with a trip to this rooftop hideaway atop Selfridges. Alongside an Alpine chalet restaurant serving wintry dishes such as raclette, suckling pig, fondue and smoked venison, there’s a dedicated hot chocolate cocktail bar. Boozy varieties include a hot chocolate spiked with hazelnut and almond liqueur, a Cuban offering laced with rum and cinnamon, and a malted Bourbon number. There’s also mulled wine on the go.
Le Chalet, Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, W1A 1AB
The bar that sits alongside this Shoreditch restaurant headed up by Angela Hartnett is embracing hot cocktails wholeheartedly this winter. Pop in for a hot toddy made with Laphroaig whisky, ginger and lemon; a spiced mulled Port; or a Buena Vista Irish Coffee made with 12-year-old Redbreast whiskey, molasses and Colombian coffee from Allpress.
Merchants Tavern, 36 Charlotte Road, EC2A 3PG
The bar at this high-rise Kensington Chinese has put together a whole menu of Tea Tails for the winter months. They each blend different high-end Chinese teas with fruits and booze to create cockle-warming creations. Try a mix of oolong tea, rum, Malibu and orange; jasmine tea with vodka, lychee and lemon; or a chrysanthemum seed infusion with Cognac, bitters and orange. That’s how to beat a cuppa.
Min Jiang, Royal Garden Hotel, 2-24 Kensington High Street, W8 4PT
Running on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights until 14 December — hurry! — this Old Street pop-up cocktail fest has a Hot Hut dedicated to steaming sips. Try an almond-flavoured hot White Russian, a warm Espresso Martini, and — our favourite — a spiced mulled Negroni. There’s also a warming fire pit, live music and no shortage of street food, including burgers from Patty & Bun and cheese toasties from Morty & Bob’s.
Night Tales, 288-299 Old Street, EC1V 9DP
Queen Of Hoxton
The wigwam atop Queen of Hoxton has become something of a tradition. It’s back this year with a woodland theme, and will be serving an array of hot cocktails, from hot buttered rum and a ginger hot toddy to something they’re calling an Eggsnog (eggnog with whisky in it, basically).
Queen Of Hoxton, 1-5 Curtain Road, EC2A 3JX
Shoreditch Grind, Soho Grind & Holborn Grind
You might have tried a hot Flat White Russian at Shoreditch Grind last year. It’s now back by popular demand, and also available at the coffee shop group’s two new sites in Soho and Holborn. It blends the Grind house espresso with vodka, Kahlua and warm milk — if you have it in a takeaway cup no-one will know you’ve got a cocktail at all.
Shoreditch Grind, 213 Old Street, EC1V 9NR
Soho Grind, 19 Beak Street, W1F 9RP
Holborn Grind, 199 High Holborn, WC1V 7BD
Soho Ski And Rum Chalet
Wardour Street’s Latin American bar and restaurant Floridita has transformed itself into a Patagonian ski resort for the winter. Branded as the Soho Ski And Rum Chalet, it will be serving hot rum cocktails galore until February — including a rich hot chocolate laced with the spirit.
Soho Ski And Rum Chalet, Floridita, 100 Wardour Street, W1F 0TN
There’s a whole host of festive eating and drinking to be done at Winterville in Victoria Park. Visit the dedicated mulled cider bar for some hot apple action, where you can choose between classic, salted caramel, hot buttered rum, or — gasp — non-alcoholic varieties.
Read our preview of Winterville here
If you've spotted some good hot cocktails, mulled wine or other warming tipples in bars and pubs around town, please let us know in the comments below and we'll add them to our selection.