Baby, it’s cold outside and that means only one thing in our book: steaming mugs of booze. Of course, there’s more mulled wine in London in December than you can shake a cinnamon stick at, but we’ve put our thinking caps on to bring you the best warm alcoholic tipples around town. From wicked hot chocs to hot toddies given the full mixology treatment, London has an adult hot drink with your name on it this winter.
Hidden away in this cocktail lovers’ dream in Dalston you will find two rather innovative little hot drinks. First, the Chartreuse Chocolate— a mix of green Chartreuse, cherry liqueur and hot chocolate with more than a touch of hipster; next wrap your mitts around the Boozy Hot Ribena which is gin, St Germain, malic acid and er, Ribena.
Manhattan's Project, Pond Dalston, 3 Gillette Street, N16 8GH
Treehouse at Skylounge
If, like us, your preferred winter wonderland is of the luxurious rooftop bar variety, then look no further than the latest pop-up at Tower Hill’s Skylounge. An open-air mystical festive space with fantastic views across town, you’ll be needing a hot drink to warm you up. Try the Hot & Cold Spiced Apple Toddy: a hot and creamy blend of Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum, cinnamon, nutmeg and festive spices all topped up with hot apple cider and a mountain of whipped cream.
Treehouse at Skylounge, 7 Pepys Street, EC3N 4AF
Gaucho’s Chandon Winter Terrace
A terrace as sparkly as its namesake, this festively festooned corner of Broadgate Circle will have you feeling Christmassy in no time. Snuggle up with cosy blankets and hot water bottles whilst sipping on a Mulled Malbec or their fiery Hot Toddy — 10 year Glenmorangie blended with lemon, honey and orange then spiked with cloves. Pleasingly, there’s a late night menu of delicious Argentine snacks served until 1.30am to keep you going too.
Chandon Winter Terrace, 5 Finsbury Avenue, EC2M 2PG
The glitzy bar at the W hotel in Leicester Square is sure to get you in the party mood. There’s a revamped seasonal list of Christmas cocktails from The Holiday, The Grinch and It’s a Wonderful Life but we’re here for the Winter’s Tale. It’s a warm mix of fine cognac, benedictine, lemon and honey, but the spectacle comes from the still-burning sprig of fresh thyme, which smells as good as it looks.
W, 10 Leicester Square, W1D 6QF
The Sun Tavern on Bethnal Green Road opened as a public house in 1851 and last year it reclaimed its heritage, reopening as a suitably revamped but still traditional-ish East End boozer. Anyway, they’ve got some nice punches and cocktails, one of which is served steaming hot to help you on your merry way: the Hot Punch Cocktail is available all month and is their own ginger beer, spiced vermouth, lemon, honey, water, Ban Poitin (traditional Irish spirit) and chocolate bitters.
Sun Tavern, 441 Bethnal Green Rd, E2 0AN
Merchant House is a celebration of all things gin based, boasting a selection of over 200 gins so we could be here some time. Let’s start with the seasonal serves; they’ve teamed up with Australian gin brand Four Pillars (Asian spices, Tasmanian Pepperbury, citrus notes) to offer two specialities: a Gin Toddy, and excitingly, a Gin and Gingerbread number. The latter is Four Pillars gin, stout and plenty of spice topped off with vanilla. We’re there.
Merchant House, 13 Well Court, EC4M 9DN
For a transatlantic spin on the season, head over to Covent Garden’s most All-American import – the glamorous Christopher’s, and get involved with their Pumpkin Rum Fun cocktail. Served warm, this one is Appleton 12 year old Rum, pumpkin puree, orange juice, demerara sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice and butter. Our cockles are warmed just thinking about it.
Christopher's, 18 Wellington Street, WC2E 7DD
May Fair Bar
The newly reopened bar at the May Fair Hotel has a cocktail list to be reckoned with – and prices to match, though not excessive for the area. Perch at the bar whilst you decide between their two winter warmers; there’s a Hibiscus Hot Toddy (Havana 3, lime, spiced honey syrup, hibiscus tea) and a thoroughly reviving Islay Coffee (Lagavulin, coffee, double cream, cinnamon) to be had.
May Fair Bar, Stratton Street, W1J 8LT
Des McDonald’s Forest Restaurant & Cabin Bar
All that Christmas shopping can be thirsty work. Luckily pop up supremo Des McDonald has another treat in store for us on the roof of Selfridges, which he’s transformed into a stylish lodge cabin to cosy up in. Have a restorative lunch of deer fillet, mallard on toast or gin cured salmon and then launch into their Choctails menu with gusto. Order the Cheeky Monkey: banana liqueur, cinnamon liqueur, hot choc and whipped cream.
Forest Restaurant and Cabin Bar, Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, W1A 1AB
No one does winter better than Scandinavia, so for a taste of Scandi tradition head over to Fitzrovia’s ScandiKitchen — an authentic deli and café — for some Glögg. Ever so slightly different from our very own mulled wine, this is made with slightly harder liquor than most mulling recipes, and uses raisins to flavour and serve. Have it with a delicious cinnamon bun and you’re living the Scandi dream.
Scandikitchen, 61 Great Titchfield Street, W1W 7PP
By Joanne Gould. Follow her on Twitter @joeatslondon