The Bluffer’s guide to London’s signature cocktails

Cities become known for their drinks, and the bars where they were born. A recent trip to New Orleans was a bingo-card adventure around some of the most famous spots and famous cocktails: sazerac at The Roosevelt; grasshopper at Tujague’s; vieux car at Carousel.

Although some of the most famous creations in London – the espresso martini, brambles, pornstar martini, Collins – have sadly lost their homes, there are still many bars that can claim to have some of the cocktails they are most popular in the capital.

So, you want to know that you only have one drink to order at the big name bars? Below are some of London’s signature cocktails, from established stalwarts to newcomers who have already earned their stripes. Bookmark the list below, keep it in your proverbial back pocket, and prepare to look like a legend. Your welcome.

Unfiltered Martini, Lyaness

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Ryan Chetiyawardana might be one of the most famous bartenders in the world and London is lucky enough to have two Chetiyawardana venues to explore. Seed Library in Shoreditch is a fine bar, but Lyaness on the South Bank is perhaps more complete and the new(ish) menu, called the 3.0 Cookbook, is a tour de force. Each recipe took months to make, and our favorite recipe involved a potato-based martini, dealing with the themes of cravings and their links to gut health. It’s a drink that inspires curiosity – something that Chetiyawardana stands for – in a way that few other cocktails can; thoughtfully, but without lecturing. It also happens to be one of London’s most delicious martinis. Unlimited drink that, knowing Chetiyawardana, will never end.

£17, 20 Upland, SE1 9PD,

Pastel, Bar with Shapes for Your Name

The Bauhaus-inspired bar emerged from the traps in 2021 with taste-bending drinks that earned it some well-deserved kudos – none more so than the pastel. Pink, served by the bottle, is a delicious weapon in the wheelhouse of owners Remy Savage and Paul Lougrat. A lightly carbonated number, it’s vodka-based, rhubarb-forward and uses Capreolus eau de vie raspberry (which has its own cult following). Despite scores more bangers coming out of this minimal neighborhood bar, the pastel is still determined. A modern classic at its best.

£11, 232 Kingsland Road, E2 8AX, @a_bar_with_shapes_do_a_name_

One Sip Martini, Tayer + Elementary

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If there’s one thing that might be worth crossing the Old Street roundabout, it’s the one and only sip martini with an international reputation, Tayer + Elementary. Why? For one, it’s the perfect size for both the martini Olympics and egg and spoon racers. Second, it comes with a generously stuffed blue cheese olive. Third, a splash of fino sherry keeps it dry and peppy. Drop in for a quick martini pitstop—or order it when you get there to see the rest of the menu. And for £4? Come on…

£4, 152 Old Street, EC1V 9BW,

Hanky ​​Panky, American Bar

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(Will Stanley)

The famous American Bar of the Savoy Hotel has passed through many hands since the legendary Ada Coleman took over as head barmaid, where she remained in charge for 23 years. As of March 2024, Angelo Sparvoli the feted position took over and while we wait for a new menu from Sparvoli, you can still find a classic hanky panky (gin, vermouth and Fernet Branca) invented by Coleman in the 1900s. We suggest kicking off the evening with one in his honour, before delving into the ‘Journal’ cocktail book, a record of the rich history of the American Bar.

£20, The Savoy, Strand, WC2R 0EZ,

Champagne Pina Colada, Coupette

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You’d be forgiven for ritualistically chanting these three words in anticipation as you arrive at the summit of the steps at Bethnal Green tube station: Champagne pina colada. Why? Because like a beige beacon, this is a cocktail that is worth a detour on any trip out east. Created by former Coupette founder Chris Moore, its ingredients are a roster of deliciousness: white rum, rum agricole, pineapple liqueur, pineapple juice, Champagne and coconut sorbet. It’s visual ASMR – clean, crisp and topped with a crunchy crown of coconut. Is one enough? Probably – but we knew to do the double and did not regret it.

£15, 423 Bethnal Green Road, E2 0AN,

Dukes Martini, Dukes Bar

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One of Ian Fleming’s favorite bars, it’s only natural that a martini at Dukes Bar should be on your hit list. Originally created by Salvatore Calabrese, this martini is still served in the hotel’s cozy bar, and the bar manager Alessandro Palazzi, who is synonymous with the cocktail, is a favorite. The preparation is where the magic happens: a frosted glass is whisked with vermouth (the excess is then spread on the carpet) before five shots of gin from the freezer are added. Amalfi lemon peel is expressed over the top and then released into the glass. One is enough, truly. Two? You are alone. Three? It is not allowed.

£25, 35 St James Place, SW1A 1NY,

Swift Irish Coffee, Swift

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There are several contenders for the best Irish coffee in London, but Swift is perhaps best known for the cocktail that began life in 1943. It can be seen by regulars and tourists alike. drinking it up summer is a testament to its star appeal. Swift’s now famous take includes Jameson Caskmates Stout, Swift’s own coffee blend, dememera syrup, cream and a sprinkle of coconut. There are three Swifts in town (the OG in Soho, the baby of the bunch in Shoreditch, and the newest in the Borough) and you’ll find the same rendition of this classic in all three.

£11, W1D, EC2A and SE1,

French 75, Three Sheets

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It’s the drink destination in Dalston on Kingsland Road and French 75. The name is a bit misleading, because it’s not really French 75 in the classic sense, but the wizkids at this small but great-tasting bar used its structure to inspire its signature cocktails. Acidity and sweetness are perfectly balanced with gin, lemon, verjus, Moscato and orange blossom, and the whole drink is clarified and carbonated using a beer keg, and served from a bottle just like a glass of fizz. If you’re going in a group, order a bottle for class contact at the start of the night.

£13 (£69 per bottle), 510b Kingsland Road, E8 4AB,

East 8 Stand up, Whirlwind of Satan

Conceived by owner Kevin Armstrong at London’s legendary (but now closed) Milk & Honey, this modern classic has gratefully traveled from Soho to Satan’s. Named after a mugging that took place in E8 when Kevin fell out with his colleague, it includes vodka, Aperol, pineapple, lime and passion fruit, and, like all of the bar’s other classics, is the best version to get you of the cocktail anywhere. in the town.

£11, 343 Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9RA,

Pineapple Miso, Silverleaf

There aren’t many places where you can get an award-winning cocktail after 2am in London, but Silverleaf delivers with the culture-loving pineapple miso. The standout on his first menu, it consists of just four ingredients: Craigellachie 13, pineapple caramel, brown butter and miso. There is washing of fat and clarification. And white chocolate garnish. The bar may have since launched a new menu, but luckily the pineapple miso has been given signature cocktail status – thank the umami gods.

£16, 3rd Floor, Devonshire House, 3 Bishop’s Gate, EC2M 4JX,

Connacht Martini, Barconnacht

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(Courtesy of Connacht)

Another bar, another iconic martini. It’s probably one of the most social drinks, and it’s no surprise that the Connacht martini has made the cut. Perrone and Giorgio Bargiani (along with Maura Milia, who left the team earlier this year) have since created a modern classic with the added theater of a trolley where guests can choose their own bitters to personalize their drink . Poured from a great height, it’s a spectacular theatrical event and creates an iconic moment in London with cocktail bingo – just as far as you can go.

£28, 16 Carlos Place, W1K 2AL, very

Black Velvet, Rules

The elder statesman on this list, the classic black velvet comes with the respect you can only find in restaurants as classic as Rules. A blend of strong and white sparkling wine, it was created in 1861 by the members’ club Brook’s Club to commemorate the death of Prince Albert (“even Champagne should weep”). While there are more modern variations out there, the OG is a piece of London history and legendary barman Brian Silva’s is anything but perfect. The now famous version of Rules, using Guinness and Champagne, is served super cold in a silver tank – it really is the feather in Rules’ cap.

£19.95, 34-35 Maiden Lane, WC2E 7LB,

Breakfast Martini, Velvet

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(Courtesy of

Opened in 2022, Velvet at the Corinthia Hotel may not be the birthplace of the breakfast martini, but this signature cocktail created by head bar Salvatore Calabrese back in 1996 at the Lanesborough Hotel Library Bar has followed it to its new home. It’s not technically a martini, but the “breakfast” element comes from adding orange marmalade along with gin, Cointreau and lemon juice. The bar isn’t open in time for breakfast, but it’s perfect for some post-work pep.

£22, Whitehall Place, SW1A 2BD,

Margarita mirror, Hacha

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The Margarita Glass from the Hacha bar has been such a success, you can now buy it in stores to get your fix. But it’s not the same as serving one in an original Dalston or newer Brixton bar. Created by co-owner Deano Moncrieffe, the signature serve has gained a reputation for being completely transparent (like a glass of water), and for its clean and balanced take on the original cocktail. You can serve it with tequila or mezcal – the original tequila is the best choice in our opinion – and the bar often collaborates with different brands to give the regulars a new interpretation of the old favourite. You are just perfect.

£11, 378 Kingsland Road, E8 4AA and 12 Market Row, SW9 8LD,

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