Party season is upon us, meaning you should be hard pressed to find yourself without a cocktail in hand. And what better place to enjoy such concoctions than right here in London, where our bustling bar scene promises to cater to every taste at every price point?
And that is no exaggeration, recently highlighted by one TikTok user, Lynsey Bennet, who made headlines this week after accidentally ordering an eye-wateringly expensive £1,890 cocktail at an undisclosed hotel bar last December. Thankfully, she didn’t have to pay for the costly mistake, but if you manage to get hold of your boss’s company card at this year’s office Christmas party, consider ordering one of these…
Biltmore Rye Manhattan 1960’s, The Biltmore, £450
Located in the heart of Mayfair, The Biltmore’s sumptuous, sensual bar is as timeless as this classic cocktail. Made up of 1920's Biltmore Rye and 1960s Cinzano Vermouth, expect Head Bartender Giorgio Trimboli’s simple, carefully honed creation to sing with a depth of flavour unlike any other. Not a whisky fan? Opt for the 1960s Negroni or a 1960s Margherita, priced at a slightly less frightening £140 and £100 respectively.
Salvatore’s Legacy, The Donovan Bar, £5,500
After more than 55 years in the drinks business, legendary mixologist and all-round charmer Salvatore ‘The Maestro’ Calabrese sure knows how to shake things up, so if you’re going to splurge the price of a used 2014 Fiat Panda Hatchback on a single serve, you might as well choose one of his. Concocted from 1788 Clos de Griffier Vieux Cognac, 1770 Kummel liqueur, 1860 Dubb Orange Liqueur and 1930 Angostura Bitters, its ingredients have a combined age of more than 700 years. Whether you take that long to drink it is up to you.
Sazerac, Rivoli Bar at The Ritz, £500
Nobody goes to The Ritz expecting to bag a bargain, so the fact that the institution’s Sazerac isn’t the most expensive on this list is quite impressive, really. This version of the drink, which originally hails from New Orleans, features a heady mix of Remy Martin’s Louis XIII Cognac (for context a 50ml bottle retails at £800), a gold leaf sugar cube (yes, really), Peychaud bitters and vintage absinthe.
Sidecar, Velvet by Salvatore Calabrese at Corinthia London, £350
Another of Salvatore ‘The Maestro’ Calabrese’s creations, here at his other haunt the master’s most extravagant sip (that’s on the official menu, anyway) is a highly elevated take on the classic featuring 1938 Hine Cognac, 1930s Cointreau and fresh, zingy lime, both distilled not too long after it was invented around the time of the first world war.
Affinity and Green Point, Guards Bar at Raffles, The Owo, £750 each
Housed in the highly historic Old War Office, where Churchill once mulled over some of the UKs most consequential political movements, and now housing hotel suites which can cost around £25,000 per night, it seems only apt that the Guards Bar has an array of punchy vintage cocktails to cater to its clientele. The affinity, reportedly first created at the beginning of the 20th century, stars 1940s Dewar’s White Label whisky, 1980s Martini Extra Dry, 1960s Cinzano Amoria Savoia and a dash of bitters. Meanwhile the much more modern Green Point is a herby take on the classic Manhattan created by Michael Mcllroy at Milk & Honey New York in 2006, but made up of much older spirits, including 18 year old Sazerac Rye, Yellow Chartreuse, Tarragona liqueur (also called the ‘elixir of life’) from between 1945 and 1951 and 1980s Cinzano Antica Formula polished off with bitters.
Sidecar, The Connaught Bar, £1,410
Created in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Sidecar, world renowned Master Mixologist Agostino Perrone’s take on Pat McGarry’s iconic drink is a celebration of the ‘the finest Cognac from that era’, promising a century old serve of Adet 1893 alongside 1980s Cointreau and lemon juice. Well, if it’s for a big birthday…