London's Most Iconic Cocktails & Where To Drink Them

From the Hanky Panky to the Champagne Piña Colada

Sure, Big Ben, The Shard and those guards with the fluffy bearskin hats are great, but our fave London icons come in liquid form. Over the years, loads of killer drinks have graced the UK capital, but only a few have climbed the ranks to become world-renowned reps of the London cocktail scene. These are the cocktails in the city's boozy DNA...

The Traditional Icons

Hanky Panky

Try it at: The American Bar at The Savoy

This mix of gin, sweet vermouth and Fernet-Branca was created by the legendary Ada "Adey" Coleman at the American Bar at The Savoy - she served as head bartender there from 1903 to 1926. Take a seat at the place where it was invented and soak in some boozy history, honey, 'cos this one's a time-honoured classic.

Vesper Martini

Try it at: Vesper Bar at The Dorchester

Nothing makes ya feel quite as suave as a Vesper. It's James Bond's go-to serve, with gin, vodka and vintage aperitif Kina Lillet, and it's a quintessential part of London's cocktail culture. The drink was dreamed up by Ian Fleming, the 007 author himself. In his books, Fleming drew inspiration from the city's grand hotel bars, including those at Dukes and The Dorchester - the latter has even named its revamped drinking den after the famous drink - so if you wanna sip one in true Bond fashion, you're in safe hands there.

The Modern Icons


Try it at: Mr Fogg's Tavern

Invented by the late, great Dick Bradsell at the now-shut Fred's Club in Soho in the 1980s. A combination of gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup, crème de mûre and crushed ice, the Bramble is now a staple on bar menus round the world, probably 'cos it's fresh, fruity and damn delicious. We dig the version at Mr Fogg's Tavern - you will, too.

Breakfast Martini

Try it at: Donovan Bar

Credit: Instagram @donovanbar

It's perfectly acceptable to drink a Martini in the morning when it's got "breakfast" in the name. This one's a signature of Salvatore "The Maestro" Calabrese, who first mixed up the combo of orange marmalade, gin, triple sec and lemon juice when he was working at the Library Bar at The Lanesborough. He's now running the show at Donovan Bar, where they mix up this classic according to his original recipe.

Espresso Martini

Try it at: The Pink Chihuahua

A fave of party people everywhere. The Espresso Martini was invented by Dick Bradsell at Fred's Club in 1984, when a supermodel walked into the bar and asked him for a drink that would wake her up and f*ck her up - our kinda gal. With espresso, vodka and coffee liqueur, this super-charged sip certainly fits the bill. Bradsell opened The Pink Chihuahua in 2010, which makes it a fitting spot to get wired on a few of these bad boys today.

Direct Martini

Try it at: Dukes Bar

When it comes to the epic Dukes Martini, the magic is in the method (and the quality of the ingredients, natch). As bar manager of Dukes in the 1980s, Salvatore "The Maestro" Calabrese (yup, he's everywhere - what a legend) invented the Direct Martini, which uses vodka or gin straight from the freezer with the lightest wash of vermouth - no ice necessary. Martini master Alessandro Palazzi took over the bar in 2007, and he solidified the drink as an icon of the London scene, using English spirits and his signature: a fresh twist of Amalfi lemon. 

Pornstar Martini

Try it at: The Cocktail Club

The naughtiest cocktail in the game is the creation of the great Douglas Ankrah (RIP). He made the first Pornstar Martini at his bar Townhouse in Knightsbridge in 2002, and it's a now a fave in bars internationally. We reckon its success is down to the fact that it's the flashiest serve around - and the most fun. Vanilla vodka, passionfruit liqueur, vanilla syrup, lime juice AND a shot of fizz on the side: what's not to love? It's the perfect fuel for a night out at The Cocktail Club.

The Next-Generation Icons

One Sip Martini

Try it at: Tayer + Elementary

What's better than a Martini? A Martini that comes with a snack, of course. This signature of Alex Kratena and Monica Berg's Old Street bar Tayer + Elementary has gained a loyal following of savoury cocktail lovers since the venue launched back in 2019, and it's easy to see why: the drink is an adorable miniature version of the classic, served in a shot glass, featuring vodka, fino sherry, and a massive blue-cheese-stuffed olive. Yum.

Mirror Margarita

Try it at: Hacha

No, that's not water in our glass - it's tequila, sour mix and grapefruit oils, all clarified to make the best damn Margarita we've ever had. Agave expert Deano Moncrieffe developed this transparent serve for his drinking den Hacha in Dalston, and it's now available at the bar's Brixton outpost and in bottled form, too. A success story, clearly!

Shaky Pete's Ginger Brew

Try it at: Hawksmoor

Photo credit: Instagram @hawksmoorrestaurants

Zippy. Refreshing. Pairs well with meat sweats. This frozen mix of ginger syrup, lemon, gin and ale was created by Pete Jeary for a Beefeater Gin cocktail competition and became a highlight of the cocktail menu at epic steakhouse Hawksmoor when he joined as head bartender in 2008. Hangover cure: sorted.

Connaught Martini

Try it at: Connaught Bar

This iconic Martini, from the mind of The Connaught's leading man Ago Perrone, is all about two main factors: personalisation and style. They roll their elegant trolley right up to your table and make it just the way you like it, with a selection of their signature bitters. And you can skip the theatre, 'cos the Martini here is a whole damn show in itself: white gloves, dramatic pours and grand flourishes mean you're in for some serious entertainment. 

Champagne Piña Colada

Try it at: Coupette

Bethnal Green bar Coupette has been slinging the Champagne Piña Colada, developed by Chris Moore, since it opened in 2017. With rum, pineapple juice, coconut sorbet and a cheeky top-up of Moet & Chandon, tropical drinks don't get more sophisticated than this. We reckon there would be a revolution if they ever took it off the menu... and we'd be on the front lines.