Now’s the time to break out your home bartending kit: we spoke with five of London’s top bartenders to learn what they’re sipping this season (and to borrow their recipes for autumn cocktails).
Fresh off the thrills of London Cocktail Week, we’ve never felt so inspired to do some cocktail-shaking of our own. We got in touch with five of London’s top bartenders – Christina Schneider at Happiness Forgets, Michele Mariotti at the American Bar at The Savoy, Alex LoSardo at Ronnie Scott’s, Bobby Hiddleston at Callooh Callay, and Max Chater, previously of Bump Caves – for some seasonal sipping inspiration. These autumn cocktails are sure to be perfect accompaniments for chilly evenings and crisp weather.
Christina Schneider at Happiness Forgets is behind this wonderfully autumnal concoction. Rich and heady Pedro Ximénez, fruit-filled sloe gin and cider brandy couldn’t be more seasonally appropriate – not to mention the spicy hit of cinnamon on top. Celery bitters add a subtle vegetal twist.
35ml cider brandy
25ml sloe gin
15ml dry vermouth
5ml Pedro Ximénez sherry
3 dashes celery bitters
In a shaker or mixing glass, add all ingredients and very cold ice. Stir until blended and well chilled, and strain into a cocktail glass. Before serving, top with freshly grated cinnamon.
According to Michele Mariotti at the American Bar, this is “a refreshing yet rich drink, perfect for the autumn!” Thanks to the combination of sloe gin, apricot brandy and citrus, think of this as a “pale” variation on the classic Charlie Chaplin – credit goes to the pale ale topper. Opt for a beer that uses American or Australian hops for an extra citrusy punch.
25 ml sloe gin
25ml apricot brandy
15 ml lime juice (freshly squeezed)
25ml grapefruit juice (freshly squeezed)
Add the first four ingredients to an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake. Strain into an ice-filled highball. Top up with pale ale before garnishing with a grapefruit twist.
The Sloe Sour
We certainly love a sloe gin sour. But this one, which can only be found at Ronnie Scott’s, has its own unique twist. Namely, fresh lavender, which imparts floral flavours that work smashingly alongside the sloes. As far as autumn cocktails go, this one is perfect for cusp-of-the-season sipping.
50ml Sipsmith Sloe Gin
25ml lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Generous pinch of fresh lavender
Add all ingredients to an empty shaker and shake to emulsify egg white. Fill the shaker with very cold ice and shake again. Double strain into a chilled Champagne flute. Garnish with a blackberry- and raspberry-speared cocktail stick.
It’s only fitting that the strong and sauve Harrison Ford is the namesake for Callooh Callay’s delectable gin cocktail. The Lady Grey syrup is key: simply infuse equal parts water and sugar with several tea bags until very aromatic. The result is rich and autumn-ready.
20ml strong Lady Grey syrup
15ml apricot liqueur
20ml lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
5ml Peychaud’s Bitters
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and fill with very cold ice; shake until well blended. Strain into a Nick & Nora glass before garnishing with a lemon twist.
The Autumn Fair
This is one for the at-home chemists: to learn how to make your own smoked, green tea pear syrup and walnut and clementine bitters, click here for more detailed instructions. Conceived by the quite brilliant Max Chater, previously of Bump Caves, this drink features fruit, smoke, spice – everything nice and autumnal. And for those who, like Max, enjoy an edible garnish, he recommends pairing this drink with cured pigeon breast (more instructions here).
30ml Sipsmith Gin
25ml Collector Vermouth
6.5ml Manuka-smoked green tea pear syrup
1.5ml NO2 Walnut & Clementine bitters
Add pear syrup and gin to a mixing glass and stir to combine. Add vermouth and bitters and fill glass with large ice cubes. Stir-down to chill and dilute. Double strain into a cocktail glass.
Feature images © janecocoa/iStock; Callooh Callay