Cocktails in the City, Summer Edition
I have a soft spot for a perfectly crafted cocktail, so when the guys at Cocktails in the City asked if I wanted to come along to their summer edition in London I obviously jumped at the chance to have some of London’s best bars (including some of my all time favourites, and places I’ve never been able to get in before) all in one place for me to sample. The concept is simple, everyone sets up in the park, you get a welcome drink on the £15 ticket price, and then you buy tokens at £7.50 each which you can exchange for drinks, practically all of which would cost upwards of £10 in their bricks and mortar counterparts. Each bar as their own themed seating area, and they’ll be in Glasgow, Bristol, Los Angeles (so jealous) and Edinburgh later this year.
We grabbed our welcome drinks (which were sponsored by Cointreau and Monkeys Shoulder so I had a Cointreau Pomegranate Fizz – which was excellent, and of course I kept the container – and he had what he called an excellent specimen of an Old Fashioned) and settled down outside of one of the bars to plot our afternoon. As well as your welcome drink token on entry you get a guide to all of the bars in attendance, a map and a list of the cocktails that they’re featuring with their liquor sponsor for the afternoon. Each bar has a couple of different options on offer, but if there is at least two of you, the guide is handy to let you know which bars to hit up to try things you simply don’t want to miss, and whoever you’ve dragged to a particular one can find something that was not listed! This is how I found my favourite cocktail that afternoon.
We started at what was our favourite bar of the whole experience, Aviator at Hush – do not be surprised if they pop up in my ‘Places To Drink In London‘ series sometime soon as I was seriously blown away. We had all three drinks on the menu (because he’d never tried frose!) and they were all perfectly balanced, and a little bit interesting. The berry number was a ‘Head In The Game’, made with Crystal Head Vodka, apple juice, mixed berries, violet liqueur and sparkling rose – refreshing, fruity, but not too sweet. The frose was the best example of it I’ve had, sweet but not sugary, with a hint of strawberry and still showcasing the full flavours of the wine. However, my highlight for the whole event for me was something I can’t remember the name of (but on their main bar menu I believe is called the Champagne Jacuzzi), a stunning blend of sparkling wine, rose wine (Cotes de Provence, in case you were wondering), elderflower and lavender with a floral citrus foam which gradually melts into the wine as you drink. So clever, so unique, and so pretty!
Next up we settled ourselves outside Blind Spot, usually found on St. Martins Lane where all of the cocktails are city themed. They were serving up Italian city inspired cocktails with Tanqueray Gin, and I won my ‘Florence’ (gin infused with oregano, Montenegro liqueur and saffron syrup with Mediterranean tonic) on the house by successfully knocking down a golden coconut with a wooden ball, from a distance, wearing a blindfold. I’m more surprised than you are at that, to be honest! It’s the one on the left and you can order it up on a regular visit to the bar, which I would recommend: light, complex and highly drinkable.
It was time for a late lunch, so we grabbed a couple of hotdogs from RockaDollar before moving on to the next bar. My pulled pork, mayonnaise, slaw, micro coriander and crispy onion loaded number was excellent, with literally the only let down that the last few bites where I’d run out of topping were more than a bit bland. Excellent quality dogs though, with lovely soft buns that held together. One to look out for.
Next up we headed to Gaucho where they were serving up drinks with Reyka vodka (one I’m already a fan of, you know how I get about all things Icelandic!) and where I’d planned on having the ‘Bloody Shame’ (which he had): vodka, bloody orange soda, rosemary syrup and sparkling wine. It was lovely, but I’m very pleased that I got distracted by a short and very refreshing watermelon number I could have drunk a stupid number of – slightly dangerous to be honest as it did not taste that alcoholic, but it still really showed off the clean vodka.
The final bar we visited was Cahoots – somewhere we’d always been beaten by the queue trying to get in. 1940’s themed, we adored the picket line theme as we entered (you can take the aides out of Westminster..!) and ordered up another Old Fashioned-style job, and a ‘Winston’s (Churchill, obviously) Ginger Cup’ for me: Bulldog gin, House of Broughton Raspberry, Essentiae Rosoilo, Lemon Juice, ginger beer and berries. They were both lovely, but they did not blow us away as much as we’d expected, considering how excited we were to finally be able to try Cahoots. We could have stayed on for much longer, but the rain was finally set in so we decided to continue with gin and tonics in a nearby pub instead!
Check out the Cocktails in the City website to find out when they’re going to be in your city next (they’ll be back in London in the spring), and to get tickets. Their Instagram is also worth a follow to stay updated on upcoming events and for some general cocktail inspiration!