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The Sipsmith Blog

Made in London: the City’s Most Creative Cocktail Bars

in Articles December 29, 2014

There’s no doubt that London is at the forefront when it comes to artisanal distilling. But made in London gin only covers one element of the city’s creative drinks culture.

In our last entry on gin made in London, we highlighted a number of the distilleries that have recently blossomed in the city – and which have done their part to transform the way Londoners drink. Now, we’re turning our sights to the city’s most creative cocktail bars: helmed by bartenders who are reinterpreting all that the cocktail can be.

These maestros aren’t just creating delectable drinks – although that’s certainly, first and foremost, what they do. But instead, they’re expanding the definition of the cocktail, using unusual flavours, never-before-seen-preparations, and bespoke spirits made to taste like everything from root vegetables and spice to desiccated bone. And while the techniques may be new, the end results are no less delicious and compelling than more classic preparations.

…they’re expanding the definition of the cocktail, using unusual flavours, never-before-seen-preparations, and bespoke spirits…

One bartender who’s had a profound influence on the London cocktail scene is Matt Whiley, who opened favourite haunts like Purl and Worship Street Whistling Shop before overseeing The Talented Mr Fox. On most nights, he can now be found manning the bar at Peg + Patriot in the Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green.

Matt’s cocktails push the envelope in a number of ways – especially their culinary inspirations. Some of his best-known drinks include the love-it-or-hate-it Marmite Martini, a Sazerac inspired by the neighbourhood’s salt beef beigels, as well as the popular Pho Money Pho Problems (which, yes, is a take on the brothy, Vietnamese noodle soup). His innovation even extends towards crafting his own made in London gin, as well as other bespoke spirits and tinctures.

And that’s just the start of London’s drinks innovation. Aside from made in London gin, a number of other tipples are currently being produced in our fair city…

Speaking of concoctions crafted in-house: Max Chater, who currently oversees Bump Caves as well as the cocktail programme across the Draft House pubs, has been putting his rotary evaporator to very good use. Also an alum of Worship Street, he’s concocted his “Beer and a Bump” series, which pairs craft brews with shots of his custom spirits that evoke all sorts of culinary flavours – and which marry perfectly with their companion brews. Other drinks – including the house #EKAAT – involve packets of add-it-yourself citric acid and other uncommon touches.

And no list of London cocktail innovators would be complete with Ryan Chetiyawardana – aka Mr Lyan. The man behind last year’s award-winning White Lyan and this year’s much-hyped Dandelyan, his innovation in creating waste-less drinks – made without ice or fresh citrus, pre-mixed and bottled during the day and “finished” before punters, using house-made or -tweaked spirits and distillates – has cemented his place in the list of local innovators.

And that’s just the start of London’s drinks innovation. Aside from made in London gin, a number of other tipples are currently being produced in our fair city. There’s Kamm & Sons, who’ve crafted a deliciously sippable ginseng liqueur, as well as Mele e Pere, an Italian trattoria in Soho that also happens to produce a range of house-made vermouths. Whether it’s making spirits or simply enjoying them, it’s clear to us that London is the place to be for the true cocktail aficionado.

Feature images © Peg + Patriot

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