In 2022, London's bar scene kept us busier than 10 Downing Street's removal vans. And while it's tough to choose favourites among the epic cocktails we knocked back this year, we can sure as hell try! Here are our top 10 boozy highlights...
The Pan Pacific hotel's standalone bar Silverleaf was one of the biggest, sexiest openings of 2022, and it also delivered one of our all-time fave cocktails. The Toasted Cream | Peach mixes Michter's Bourbon, lacto-fermented peach cordial and puffed rice syrup, garnished with a white chocolate shard that echoes the bar's sleek minimalist design. It's a simply named drink, but don't get it twisted - this baby is as complex as the season finale of Succession.
When the legendary Salvatore "The Maestro" Calabrese announced he was opening a new bar in the Corinthia hotel, we knew it was gonna be a special one - and when he served us this drop of luxury, all our predictions came true. Velvet's Truffle Sazerac is a main dish of a drink, with truffled Remy Martin VSOP, Bulleit Bourbon, Peychaud's and salty orange bitters and a magical ingredient called umami syrup. It's savoury, rich, indulgent, earthy and round. The Maestro's done it again, folks.
This stunner hits all the notes of a perfect Martini, with a little added je ne sais quoi. Created by Booking Office's frontman Jack Porter for the Hepple Gin cocktail competition, it's a mix of Hepple Gin, dry vermouth, organic beeswax and a black olive garnish, straight from the freezer as a good Martini should be. Yes, the wow factor could be the result of that beeswax, which gives the whole thing a luxurious, smooth texture, or the fact that it's served with an extra sidecar of Martini, so you can top up your glass when supplies run low, or the lush surroundings of Booking Office itself. Looks like we'll have to visit again and try a few more in 2023 - for investigative purposes, obvs...
This year, The Savoy's Beaufort Bar reinvented itself into a luxurious den of debauchery, becoming one of the hottest tickets in town (with a little help from bar consultant extraordinaire Anna Sebastian and a few caviar bumps). While there's nothing quite like the rush of inhaling £30's worth of fish eggs off the back of your hand in a single go, the real star of the show is the buttery-rich Croissantini, with Absolut Elyx, croissant-infused vodka, Samurai sake and Tio Pepe sherry. Carbs in cocktail form? We're big fans.
We were lucky enough to pull up a seat at The Ritz's opulent Rivoli Bar this year, and the drinks didn't fail to impress. The highlight was this extravagant riff on the Boulevardier, featuring Dalmore 15 whisky, Amaro Santoni, cherry wine, orange bitters and a dramatic swipe of white chocolate, served with theatrical flair in a smoking glass dome. Yeah, it's OTT - but the flavours match the production value. We particularly liked the tart rhubarb tang that Amaro Santoni brings to the mix. Fancy, huh?
We'll always remember 2022 as the year we actually wanted to go to Canary Wharf - and the credit is entirely due to the opening of The Lowback, Hawksmoor's floating bar in Wood Wharf. It's got an epic terrace, classy and cosy interiors, wicked bar food and a next-level cocktail menu featuring the genius Pink Gibson. Pitched to us as "Monster Munch in a glass", this savoury sip has Boatyard Vodka, Audemus Umami Gin, Aperitivo Co Dry Vermouth and a pink pickled onion. It lives up to its snacky inspo a million times over - and we can confirm it pairs perfectly with an order of salt beef nuggets. Yum.
Chinese restaurant Tattu opened its first London outpost this year in Tottenham Court Road's Outernet building - and 'cos the Tattu crew never do anything by halves, they tapped ex-Lyaness bar manager Will Meredith to run their bars. He dreamed up this banger, a mix of oolong-infused Sazerac Rye, brown butter and Takamaka Rum. Even with the drink's double dose of booze and its rich nuttiness from the brown butter, the delicate flavour of the tea still shines through - that's one beaut balancing act.
You KNOW we love a good spicy cocktail (ain't no stopping us when we're on the Picantes!). This drink from the NoMad's newest bar, Common Decency, takes the concept in a different direction by adding tingly Szechuan peppercorns to the classic tangy, umami-rich profile of a Gibson. With Absolut Elyx Vodka, Dolin Blanc, Szechuan oil, onions and white balsamic vinegar, it's mouth-numbing, mind-blowing perfection.
Yeah, we love an elaborate 15-ingredient serve featuring far-flung ingredients and a backstory worthy of its own podcast, but sometimes the simplicity of a well-crafted classic just hits the spot. Eve Bar's Perfect, Three Cherries is a straightforward yet brilliantly executed take on the Manhattan, made the way the venue's owner, chef Adam Handling, likes it: with bourbon, dry and sweet vermouths, bitters and three lush maraschino cherries. Gorgeous, darling.
London City Island bar Soda & Friends is all about the Highball, and they showcase the versatility of the serve by regularly switching up their menu with epic seasonal variations. This version, with blackberry, Port Charlotte peated malt, amaro and soda, is the perfect balance of bonfire and bramble, with refreshing bubbles and a juicy blackberry to snack on. It's all the proof we need that Highballs are worth the hype!
By Kate Malczewski