Alcoholic cocktails based on vegetables are a thing. Made from fresh vegetables, veggie syrups, or veg-infused spirits, they’re fast becoming popular in the capital's swanky bars and restaurants. We’re not just talking about tomatoes and celery, but the likes of artichokes and aubergines too.
The healthy eating trend is largely to thank, but it's worth noting that vegetable cocktails are not necessarily vegetarian: they may include beef jerky, Worcestershire sauce, or even insects — so check before ordering.
Su-Lin Ong, an expert in London’s bars, alcoholic drinks and drinks brands told us about some of her favourites:
At The Gibson, Marian Beke is a wizard with outlandish combinations… Amongst the 48 cocktails on his list, you can find purple cabbage cordial with echinacea and gingko bitters. Popping up on the specials list at the London Cocktail Club bars is a version of the Aviation… Gareth Franklin, mixologist for Luxardo, invented this by muddling sugar snap peas in his Howard Hughes Aviation. The grassiness enhances the infusion of barks and leaves from which the central maraschino ingredient is distilled. What all these add is great depth of fresh aromas and sensations to your palate.
Intrigued? Read on for some of London's best alcoholic vegetable goodness.
1800 Gibson Maria at The Gibson
One of the most interesting cocktails in London right now, Marian Beke’s ambitious drink is made from 1800 Tequila and the juice of parsnips, purple carrots, radishes and beetroots, along with grilled and pickled peppers. It also contains, among many other ingredients, pickled horseradish, aged black garlic, yellow cherry tomatoes, red tomato paste, dried vegetable salt, mushroom ketchup, green tomato chutney, beetroot brine, and horseradish relish. The brilliant bar, which specialises in historic drinks from the Edwardian era to the present day, was voted the world’s sixth best in the world’s 50 best bars awards 2016.
The Gibson, 44 Old Street, EC1V 9AQ.
Diamond Daisy at Dandelyan
Containing the fashionable cavolo nero ‘black cabbage’, Bacardi Carta Blanca rum, riesling wine, fragrant pandan and lime, this zesty, tangy, pale green cocktail is finished with a sprinkling of 'kale dust'. It’s billed as a ‘crisp afternoon refreshment’ on the botany-inspired menu of top cocktail maestro Ryan Chetiyawardana’s multi award-winning bar. There’s also another veggie cocktail based on parsley root, fennel vodka and carrot powder.
Dandelyan, Mondrian London at Sea Containers, 20 Upper Ground, SE1 9PD.
Spring Drifting Into Summer at Artesian Bar
Made by mixing artichokes with Ketel One vodka, shochu, coffee, yuzu, passion fruit and coriander, this adventurous cocktail is one of several vegetable offerings at this exquisite award-winning bar. Langham Hotel’s smart drinking hole has been number one in the list of ‘world’s 50 best bars’ multiple times over the years.
Artesian Bar, The Langham London, 1C Portland Place, W1B 1JA.
Avocadorita at Cielo Blanco
Fresh avocado is blended with el Jimador reposado, triple sec, lime, agave and coriander in this pale, attractively creamy-green cocktail, topped with pumpkin seeds. The relaxed Exmouth Market Mexican restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy it: it has a strong commitment to tequila.
Cielo Blanco, 55-57 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QL.
Aubergine Sour at the Grain Store
Deliciously aromatic, mellow and subtle, this savoury cocktail is made from aubergine rum, lime juice, sugar syrup and egg white. Bruno Loubet’s vegetable-focused restaurant stretches the idea to its bar, so there are a number of vegetable drinks devised by acclaimed drinks expert Tony Conigliaro. They’re based on green beans, broad beans, peas, sun-dried tomatoes, parsnips and carrots.
Grain Store, Granary Square, Stable Street, N1C 4AB.
Shuck and Smoke at Callooh Callay
Sweetcorn syrup is mixed with Tapatio Blanco tequila, chipotle Falernum (a sweet, spicy syrup), lime, and mole bitters to create a Mexican-style drink with a difference. The unique, quirky, award-winning bar is one of our favourite in London.
Callooh Callay, 65 Rivington Street, EC2A 3AY.
Pea & Tea at the Social Bar
Made from sugar snap pea-infused Ford’s gin, ‘electric flowers’, chamomile tea, lemon and tonic water, this is one of a number of vegetable cocktails at the swish bar of Jason Atherton’s popular restaurant. Others are made from beetroot and pumpkin.
Social Bar at City Social, Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street, EC2N 1HQ.
Sprouting Gordon’s Gin Fizz at M Restaurant
If you normally turn up your nose at brussels sprouts, you might enjoy them with booze instead. This award-winning City restaurant serves caramelised brussels with Gordon’s gin, lime and lemon juice, cranberry and honey syrup and prosecco, all poured over ice. It’s a vibrantly coloured festive drink, available until the end of December 2016.
M Restaurant, 2-3 Threadneedle Walk, 60 Threadneedle Street, EC2R 8HP.
Pina Kaleada at Supernatural
Kale is on trend, so it was only a matter of time until somebody thought about putting it into a cocktail. Fresh kale, along with kale and date syrup, is mixed with Bacardi Carta Blanca rum, coconut milk, citrus, and smoked sea salt.
Headed by a team of former mixologists, this pop-up bar, overlooking Old Spitalfields Market, specialises in nourishing ‘alcoholic juices’. There are a few other vegetable-based cocktails here, made from avocado, beetroot and even red cabbage juice. But hurry, it’s only around until 18 December 2016.
Supernatural, Outside Ethos Studio (between Wagamama and Las Iguanas), Old Spitalfields Market, 8 Horner Square, E1 6EW.