Looking for cocktails with more than just a twist? Sophie Marie Atkinson puts her taste buds (and liver) at risk by sampling some of the strangest cocktails in London.
The Nightjar, was the subject of much cocktail controversy last year when it was raided for serving drinks made with whale skin. Eek! Their more recent offerings have caused less wrist-slapping but are still delicious and quirky in equal measures.
Bizarre ingredients include Old Tom clotted cream and umami foam in the Baltimore Eggnog cocktail; banana blossom, coconut yoghurt and plantain foam in the Sweet Dreams cocktail; and gooseberry jam, agave and Tokaji sweet wine in Hug A Wildcat cocktail.
In need of a pick-me-up? Try the Waldorf Gloom Lifter, an eclectic mix of deliciously smooth Auchentoshan 3-Wood Scotch Whisky, Vsop Armagnac, Nightjar Grenadine and, erm, Beeswax.
Most of the cocktails offered up at this bar are fairly spectacular in terms of presentation, but none so much as The Pot and Ketel, which serves up delectable Ketel One Vodka - along with hops bitters, Dutch flowers and juniper berries - in a gorgeous, hand-crafted copper kettle filled with liquid nitrogen, for added mystique.
If quirky presentation is a major factor when picking a beverage, try Barts bar in Chelsea, where booze – including cocktails named Tallulah’s Tipple and the Absinthe-Minded – is supped from teacups, Prohibition style.
Meanwhile The Shop bar in Kensal Rise houses its cocktails in jam jars and milk bottles. The Jager-Bombs are even delivered in marmite jars.
Another venue cashing in on the Prohibition craze, Evans and Peel Detective Agency, lovingly serves up some exceptional drink creations, such as maple bacon and tobacco-infused bourbon, and Tanqueray gin delicately flavoured with lavender and Earl Grey. Oh, and the ale is served through an antique radiator. Tres cool.
A lot less subtle is The London Cocktail Club, which offers up the Squid Ink Sour cocktail – tequila, lime, agave syrup, egg white and squid ink - and the must-taste-better-than-it-sounds Bacon, Egg and Fries cocktail – mostly made up of Jack Daniels infused with smoked bacon, egg white and maple syrup. The Oyster Bomb, the bar’s take on the infamous Jäger Bomb, comprises Jagermeister and Red Bull jelly served in a boiled oyster shell on a martini glass bed of crushed ice (served with Tabasco and lemon, natch).
Less in-your-face mental, and more of weird and wonderful, can be found at 69 Colebrook Road bar in Angel (home of the cocktail God, Tony Conigliaro, above). Try the Terroir – distilled clay, flint and lichen served straight from the bottle - or the Barbershop Fizz cocktail - pine infused Beefeater gin served with birch and vanilla syrup and Patchouli infused mint. Their classier-than-thou take on a Bloody Mary cocktail contains horseradish vodka and homemade pepper sauce; while the Apple and Hay Bellini cocktail comprises apple puree and a hint of hay topped with prosecco.
Want to forget your woes (and everything else that happens that night)? Head to The Absinthe Bar in the Brompton Bar and Grill where you can sample an array of modern day, absinthe-infused cocktails – from the Absinthe Caipirihna to Death in the Afternoon (champagne and absinthe) – the surefire way to end your night with a bang (crash, and wollop?).