BarChick's Favourite Cocktails of 2021

It's been a vintage year for epic drinks

So there might not be loads of positive things to say about 2021, but what we can say is the cocktails we've tried have been stellar. It's always hard to pick a favourite... but here is a selection of our highlights. And yes, a lot of them happen to be Martinis...

The Perfect Ten - The Bar at The Dorchester

We love a hotel bar, especially one as iconic as The Bar at The Dorchester. It's a stalwart of Park Lane, led by one of the Italian icons of the drinks biz, Giuliano Morandin, who this Winter celebrated this 40th year at The Bar. We went to meet the legend and try out a trio of cocktails to commemorate his milestone, and The Perfect Ten Martini was one of them. And yes, it kicked ass. Created in partnership with Tanqueray No.10, it has some epic citrussy vibes brought forward by the use of Lillet Blanc and the bespoke grapefruit bitters, all of which mix perfectly with the gin. 10/10, would recommend to anybody. Especially when served up by a legend as great as this G.

Read about Giuliano's 40th-anniversary menu here

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Rye Lane - Funkidory  

As far as we're concerned, South East London is the centre of the universe (yeah, we're pretty postcode loyal, honey), which means we like to spend as much time there as possible. Doing that is made even easier when there's such a sick bar in the heart of it. This neighbourhood bar is super chill. The kinda place you can hit up for a casual catch up over coffee, or pick up a bottle and a vinyl for a night in with your beau. Or you can swing by for a night of cocktails with your crew like we did, and the star of their killer menu is 100% the Rye Lane; the love child of a Dirty Martini and a Manhattan made with Rye Whiskey, Amber Vermouth, Fennel Seeds syrup and Giarraffa Olives brine. So good, we bought a bottle to take away with us.

Our full bar review is here.

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Dufftown Manhattan - Lyaness 

Lyaness has been a bar we've hit up a lot this year (what can we say? The place is a vibe) and we were pumped for the launch of their third menu which landed at the end of November. Even though it's only been live for a few weeks, one of the newbies has already made itself a home in our hearts; The Dufftown Manhattan is a sophisticated drink made with one of the newcomers in their core ingredient line-up: the Fruit Furikake. Along with Glenfiddich 15, green peppercorn vermouth and koseret bitters, it has a gentle warmth that'll keep us coming back throughout 2022.

Read our review of the new menu here.

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E=m(t+6.712) - St James Bar 

The whole of the Imagination menu at the St James Bar is pretty mind-blowing if we're honest. From cocktails topped with aromatized bubbles to one that uses unicorn cordial (yes, really), but it was the one-of-a-kind edible cocktail that rocked our world. No fancy glassware needed here. This cocktail is presented in the form of a vegan gelatine ball filled with liquid. This is an all-in-one job. You carefully place into your mouth and let your tongue burst the gelatine so the mix of the Lakes Orange Wine Cask Whisky, verjus, osmanthus (an East Asian plant), peach, pistachio and Fino sherry flood your mouth. So epic, it's almost beyond the realms of imagination!

Read about the bar here

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Hemingway Daiquiri - La Rampa 

Come to La Rampa for the feasting, STAY for the cocktails. This place is like time travelling back to 1950's Cuba, and ya can't go to Cuba without sampling the Daiquiris. We made our way through their Daiq varieties (cos you gotta be sure) and picked the Hemingway as our fave. A recipe that dates back to circa 1935, this particular rendition is made with Eminente Claro rum, grapefruit, lime and maraschino. Sophisticated, juicy and delicious.

Read the full review here.

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Fiorella - Doña  

Feisty, sassy and sexy af. The Fiorella found on the menu at Doña in Stoke Newington is as bad-ass as the babes that run the ruby-hued basement bar. A wicked take on a Martini, they make it with Quiquiriqui mezcal, Italicus, Dry White Vermouth and Empirical Ayuuk. We tried it when we hit up this bar on one of their Frida Kha-lol comedy nights, and co-owner Lucia told us it was named after her mamma. We can only guess Mrs Massey is an absolute queen!

Read our full review of the bar here.

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Tequila Martini - KOL

From one of the biggest openings of the year comes this mind-blowing Martini that subs out the traditional gin for Volcán De Mi Tierra Blanco tequila, stirred down with Dolin Dry Vermouth, pine distillate, Creme de Cacao blanc and cucumber. They replace the traditional lemon twist with a spritz of their house-made Douglas fir distillate. What else would you expect from a bartender like Maxime Shulte?

Read our review here.

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Blue Boy - Park Row 

Park Row was the dark horse of our 2021. A bar we expected to be gimmicky and naff turned out to be a sensation, their cocktails included. We pretty much haven't stopped thinking about this smurf-tinged drink that is poured from the frame of a portrait in the Rogue's Gallery bar, made with Bombay Sapphire gin, blue curaçao and citrus. Delicious as it is dramatic.

Read our full review of the entire Park Row experience here




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Mooli Martini - SOMA

Any cocktail that comes with its very own bar snack is going to be a winner with us, but the Mooli Martini found at Kricket's next door basement bar, SOMA... well that serve is something else! If you're more gherkin than gherkout, you'll dig this as much as we did. Made with Haku vodka, curry leaf vermouth & lightly pickled mooli, it has a gentle, mouth-watering sharp sweetness that keeps you going back for more. We'll be starting a campaign to have them turn it into a bottled RTD in 2022.

Read our full bar review here.

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Mango & Dandelion - The Chinoiserie

The savvy team at this Knightsbridge hotel bar know how to make magic with unsuspecting ingredients. The Mango & Dandelion is their clever and precise riff on a Dry Martini, with a base of Beluga Noble vodka and a gentle, subtly juicy introduction of Lacto-fermented mango & apricot, Mancino Bianco, dandelion & burdock bitters and a spritz of Mercato coperto essence. Forget 2021, this might just be the best Martini we have ever had...  

The full bar review is here.

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