Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Sober In London: In Search Of The Best London Bars For Mocktails

7 London cocktail bars serving imaginative mocktails to mugs like me, courtesy of Christian Rose-Day.

Lock your door, don’t leave the house, stay away from cash points and under no circumstances go anywhere near a pub, a bar, an off license, or a petrol garage offering deals on booze. Learn to love your Lovefilm subscription, reconnect with old friends on Facebook, clear out ‘that’ drawer in the kitchen containing old batteries, screws and bits of string, and, failing that, go play with yourself. Whatever you need to do, stay dry.

And so the struggle of the teetotaler living in London continues. It’s been nearly one month since my last alcoholic beverage and I’m already sick to death of Shirley Temple and Virgin Mary cocktails. I’d go so far as not even talking to anyone called Shirley or Mary right now.

As mentioned in my previous blog, I am on the mightiest of missions; my intention: to only drink non-alcoholic drinks from New Year’s Day until 2 minutes after completing the Virgin London Marathon on Sunday 21st April 2013, when I will down half a can of Shandy Bass and promptly pass out from inebriation.

Until then, I must attempt to maintain a life, and worse still, a career. I write about bars and restaurants for a living. Not drinking is not easy.

The mocktail is now my new best friend - aside from Beck’s Blue, that is - and here is a handy list of bars in London that I intend to visit for the purposes of keeping my sanity, my friends, and my job in reasonable shape, in part thanks to the provision of alcohol-free cocktails alongside their more sinful cocktail menu options.
Juju in Chelsea
This swanky bar-club on the King’s Road in west London not only provides its customers with a pan-Asian food menu, and not only won the ‘Best DJ Bar’ accolade at the London Club and Bar Awards in 2012, but it also boasts a Mocktail menu containing 9 choices, for only £6.50 a pop, and including the Orange Bomb, Buck Up Your Act, and French Kiss.

Mint Leaf in the West End
This Indian restaurant on Haymarket is popular with the pre-theatre, post-work crowd in central London and the exotic taste of the East comes through in its spicy cocktails as well. The cocktail bar serves 6 different mocktails at £7.50 each, the highlight of which is the Vietnamese Lemonade made with fresh ginger, passion fruit and lemon juice.

Barrio East in Shoreditch
This new addition to the Barrio family and the Shoreditch cocktail bar scene is as colourful and crazy as its siblings, and is probably the most fun cocktail bar on this list. The £4 mocktail options are limited to only 4 (sobriety goes against everything Barrio stands for, really). The best choice is the Agua Fresca; a South American staple filled with fresh fruit and citrus, available in melon or pineapple.

Salvador and Amanda in Bloomsbury
This new tapas and cocktail bar near Holborn has some £4.50 mocktails on the drinks menu which, at present, include the mojito-style ZEO Rocket: pepper and rocket leaves muddled with agave syrup, lime and lemon juice and topped with ZEO, a 0% ABV drink based on a blend of botanicals that tastes like ginger beer mixed with essence of Tippex; which oddly, I rather enjoy.

Long Bar at Sanderson in Fitzrovia
With the fashion industry firmly planted in Fitzrovia, this bar will suit sartorially inclined ladies, or chaps who are looking for such darlings. The cocktail menu includes an ‘On The Wagon’ section, which contains 4 succinct options, each at £7, including the Virgin coriander and rhubarb mojito with apple juice and cranberry juice.

SO.UK in Clapham
No decent bar guide can really omit south London’s most prolific area for bars and pubs, and this freshly refurbished pan-Asian bar/club has a cocktail menu that will cater to those looking for a long night out (without alcohol). The cocktail menu boasts 9 varieties, each priced at £5, and surely the most apposite cocktail being the Lost in Clapham, made with passion fruit, pineapple, apple, fresh raspberries and a dash of lemon.

Watatsumi in Trafalgar Square
This is undoubtedly the healthiest night out in London for anyone who is off the sauce at the moment because this Japanese restaurant in the heart of the West End serves inspiring Japanese sushi and sashimi as well as a small selection of virgin cocktails at £5 each, including the Triple Passion (for those with romance in mind) which uses freshly muddled lemongrass fused with passion fruit, vanilla and lychee.

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