London's Most Extravagant Drinking Experiences Ever

By Maire Rose Connor Last edited 8 months ago
London's Most Extravagant Drinking Experiences Ever
Image: Shutterstock

We may not have the beach parties of Barcelona, or Berlin's clubbing scene, but if there's one thing that London does with gusto, it's drinking. While many of us are happy necking a few craft ales down the local on a Friday night, the capital has witnessed some of the most outlandishly decadent drinking sessions in history.

Take one afternoon in 2001, when six Barclays Capital bankers made a £44,000 dent in the wine cellar at Gordon Ramsay's Michelin-starred Petrus restaurant. That included a 1982 Montrachet for £1,400, and three bottles of Petrus Pomerol ranging from £9,400 to £12,300 each. Such a flagrant display of excess wasn't deemed great PR, and five of the drinkers were subsequently given the boot.

What about the Lord Mayor's Banquet of 1946? A particularly gluttonous group of guests guzzled 30 dozen bottles of champagne, seven dozen of port, and five dozen of fine brandy. Bet they had sore heads in the morning.

Sometimes, though, it's more about quality than quantity. Prepare to behold some of the fanciest thirst-quenchers that have ever graced the capital, some of which you can sample today — if you're feeling flush, that is.

A real diamond of a cocktail at Park Tower Knightsbridge

Image: Shutterstock

Punters who plumped for The Park Tower Knightsbridge's Diamond Cocktail had to sip carefully, lest they ended up swallowing a real jewel alongside their champagne and cognac elixir. While choking to death on a liquor-soaked diamond might sound like a glamorous way to go, this concoction from the hotel's now-defunct bar cost up to £4000, so you'd have probably wanted to stick around to finish the thing (although a hasty demise before the bill arrives would be an excellent strategy...).

Beer fit for a Pharaoh at Harrods

Image: Public Domain

With all the plotting, intrigue and fratricide that comes with being an Ancient Egyptian royal, is it any wonder that a pharaoh would want a to crack open a cold one after a long, hard day of presiding over an empire? While Tutankhamun Ale wasn't actually plucked from the tomb of the famous king, it was recreated "from sediment residues in old jars found in a brewery inside the Sun Temple of Nefertiti, queen of the Pharaoh Akenaten, believed to be King Tut's father" and followed an Ancient Egyptian recipe. This sort-of-exotic concoction (it was actually brewed in Edinburgh...) was dreamt up by former Harrods owners. the Al Fayed brothers back in 1996, and its first bottle sold for an eye-watering £5k.

A gold latte fit for a unicorn at Saint Aymes

Image: Saint Aymes

On the more affordable end of the spectrum, allow us to present the 24 Carat Gold Unicorn Latte. This Instagrammer's fever dream of a beverage is comprised of flavoured coffee, whipped cream and a 24 carat gold topping, and is available in pink, blue or lilac. It's the brainchild of Saint Aymes, one of central London's most aesthetically pleasing cafes, and it can be yours for a mere £8.45.

A very posh pot of tea at Royal China Club

The Royal China Club also offers a more budget-friendly jasmine tea

Fancy a cuppa? In 2014, reports emerged that London's Royal China Club was pouring out Da Hong Pao tea for £180 a pot. Grown in the Wuyi mountains of southern China, this dark oolong tea is the most expensive in the world. Its history is steeped in legend, with one story alleging that Da Hong Pao cured the ailing mother of a Ming Dynasty emperor, who was so grateful that he ordered that the tea bushes be draped in imperial scarlet robes as a token of respect. That would explain the tea's name, which loosely translates as 'Big Red Robe'.

The £5k Sazerac at The Savoy

Get a taste of pre-Civil War New Orleans with a cocktail claimed by its creator to be is as close as you can get to the original Sazerac here in 21st century London. £5000 might sound like an awful lot for a drink comprised of just three ingredients, but the hefty price tag testifies to the quality and vintage of spirits used. The Savoy's American bar uses 1858 Sazerac de Forge, 1950s Pernod Absinthe and Peychaud's Bitters from the early 1900s to create its old-timey concoction.

A cocktail more than two centuries in the making

Image: Salvatore Calabrese

The ingredients in Salvatore Calabrese's record-breaking cocktail span three whole centuries. A splash of 1770 Kummel Liqueur, some 1860 orange curaçao, and two dashes of early 1900s Angostura bitters were mixed with 1778 Clos de Griffier Vieux Cognac to create the £5,500 concoction at the Playboy Club (although a cheaper version can be whipped up using modern spirits too). In 2012, it smashed the Guinness World Record for the most expensive cocktail, though the following year it was usurped by the Winston, which was created in Melbourne using the most expensive cognac ever sold at auction.

A wine bath in Chelsea

Here's a spa treatment that makes Cleopatra's legendary milk baths look positively provincial. At Chelsea's Ella Di Rocco you can literally bathe in a tub of red wine. That's right: wine. The pampering begins with a full-body Merlot scrub, before you sink into a tub of Sangiovese, Merlot and Ciliegiolo. The wines are mixed with warm water and virgin grape juice concentrate, so we don't recommend taking a cheeky sip during your dip. Luckily the treatment also comes with a glass of the good stuff. It's all about the antioxidants, apparently.

Liquid gold at The Bletchley, Chelsea

Here are some of The Bletchley's cocktails that WON'T set you back £100

We've already seen edible gold, but how about edible diamonds? The gin used in second world war-themed cocktail bar The Bletchley's George VI cocktail is infused with both. With a £100 price tag, it's certainly not infused with the spirit of wartime austerity, but it does come with something called a 'sparkling wine bomb', along with a golden garnish and your own personal mixologist — to borrow, rather than keep, we assume.  You'll have to preorder it with at least three day's notice, so it's not one for spontaneous shows of wealth.

'Press for champagne' button at Bob Bob Ricard

If ordering a drink at the bar is far too common for your tastes, you'll love Bob Bob Ricard's 'press for champagne' button. These little golden beauties are installed at every table at the glamorous Soho restaurant, which pours more of the sparkly stuff than any other UK dining establishment.

The priciest pint at Craft Beer Co.

Image: Alesmith

Unfortunately it's no longer that uncommon to have to break a twenty when purchasing a couple of beers in a London pub. But you'd best hope it's not your round if your drinking buddies request a pint of Alesmith's Speedway Stout: it'll set you back £22.50, making it the UK's most expensive pint on draught. Before you cry 'daylight robbery', know that US-imported stout ABV is 12% — about the same strength as a bottle of wine. Try it for yourself at one of The Craft Beer Co's London bars.

£4000 gin at Harvey Nichols

Image: Harvey Nichols

Got a spare £4k lying around? Blow it all on a white porcelain jar of gin, exclusively available at Harvey Nichols. At 60% ABV, Morus LXIV is sure to put some hairs on your chest, and it's too nice to be sullied with tonic water. Instead, drinkers are instructed to enjoy it like a cask-strength scotch: neat, or with a few drops of water to taste. The gin is made from the leaves of an ancient Mulberry tree, which are hand harvested and dried prior to distillation. Plus, the name has Roman numerals in it, so you know it's fancy. Each jar comes with its own stirrup cup, so you can enjoy it on a long ride with your trusty steed.

Extra sparkly champagne

Image: Harrods

Well, it wouldn't be a list of extravagant drinks without a top notch bottle of champers, would it now? Around the neck of every magnum of Rare Le Secret High Jewellery Edition Ruby Champagne 1997 is a real 1.22 carat ruby in a setting inspired by the queen of excess, Marie Antoinette. Once you've emptied the bottle, you can take your adornment to the House of Mellerio's Parisian workshop and have it transformed into a piece of jewellery. All of this can be yours for the modest sum of £115,000 at Harrods.

Last Updated 08 February 2019