Just 15 of the drinks I sampled at Cocktails In The City - London 2018

London's best cocktail event of the year returned to One Marylebone on 5th-7th April and I went on a personal mission to undertake the most research any single person has ever conducted for the sake of a blog post.

Luckily, after attending the event for a couple of years, Cocktails In The City finally responded to all my friend requests and let me take over their Instagram feed for the night. So not only did I receive some legitimate validation from these absolute industry heroes, I was also allowed to try as many drinks as I wanted in the name of collaborative social media-ing.

Readers, I did not take this responsibility lightly.

It is no exaggeration to say CITC has given me some of the best cocktail sips I have ever tasted - this is an event in which the best bartenders for the best bars use the best ingredients to compete for Best Drink. This is the kind of incredible opportunity that deserves a thorough and comprehensive investigation in order to do it justice here.

So here's some pics I took of some drinks I had. With some details for the ones I remember. They are presented here in no particular order, although you may be able to guess the sequence in which they were consumed by the quality of the photo.

The Duchess Of Bedford (Mr. Fogg's)

ROKU Gin, lavender syrup, lemon verbena tea syrup, william pear puree, lemon, Rinomato Americano Bianco, Fentimans soda water
Partnering with the first Japanese gin to be available in the UK, those dapper bar wizards at Mr Fogg's created this refreshing, floral drink "inspired by the very British tradition of afternoon tea". Also, I am a sucker for a singed, still-smoking garnish like the burnt rosemary sprig used here.

Get the recipe

Zen Garden (Gaucho)

This wasn't even Gaucho's main contender of the night (that's further down this list), but from the fellow drinkers hovering excitedly around the bar, this was definitely in the running as a favourite. I didn't catch the ingredients other than there was a lemongrass infusion of, I'm guessing, their partnered product Stoli, and I suspect it was very similar to - if not the same as - the Lemongrass Collins on their menu.

This um... drink (The Gibson Bar)

I don't remember anything about this one, but it was served in a lightbulb, and the bartender who served it to me is clearly very pleased with himself about this.

A Sailor's Lot (Cahoots)

Brugal 1888 Rum, Instant aged Professore Bitter, alga nori syrup, citrus spray
In a night filled with mouth-pleasing wonders, this may just have been my favourite of the evening. The alga nori in this syrup refers to the seaweed 'skin' found in sushi (and also used as a garnish here). It gave this nautical-themed drink, which is otherwise essentially an intense Rum Old Fashioned, an unbelievably unique taste that hints heavily at the sea. and it was delicious.

Cultural Martini (Cafe Moderne)

"London is a melting pot of cultures and at Cafe Moderne we work with a lot of oils and so this drink takes the classic martini with the french twist of St-Germain and the guest can choose from a range of oils - each oil inspired by a different culture from London - Indian and Jamaican."
As explained above, this Martini aims to bring together different cultures in one drink, and the base drink here, of Oxley Gin mixed with St-Germain and vermouth as well as a splash of smokey whisky, is then changed dramatically depending on the oils added afterwards. Having tried all the oils separately, I opted for the one that impressed me most - Jamaican pineapple and chilli.

Read an interview with Cafe Moderne and get the recipe form this and their other fine drink Á Bicylette

1743 meets Negroni (Atrium Bar - Florence)

Martini Riserva Bitter, Martini Riserva Rubino, Bombay Sapphire gin, Alkermes SMN, olive oil foam
A Negroni with olive oil foam? It already sounded amazing before I started learning about the other secret weapon in this recipe: Alkermes, an amaro-like herbal liqueur "created in Florence by the monks of Santa Maria Novella Church in the 1743". This was the highlight of the CITC International Bar.

Golden Peacock (Rock And Rose)

Disaronno, passion fruit, pineapple, citrus and gomme, bee pollen, tagete flower
This deliciously smooth and fruity drink came as a welcome respite from the stronger cocktails I had tasted until this point. Also none of those had a peacock feather garnish, so this won all sorts of points.

Get the recipe

Wilder Things (Mark's Bar at Hix)

Freya Birch Spirit, nettle cordial, lime, basil
I'm still trying to wrap my head around Freya Birch Spirit, a very recent product on the market that's not quite vodka, not quite gin, which I had already tried neat on a couple of occasions. This was my first Freya cocktail, however, and it was truly great. Even more exciting? Trying Freya's new smoked version of the spirit.

Rouge (Coupette)

St-Germain, Lillet Blanc, Bacardi Ocho, exotic cordial, raspberry ice
This simple-but-tasty tipple stood out thanks to its enticing addition of raspberry ice, lending colour and increasing flavour to the drink. And it just looks cool.

Get the recipe

The Penzance (Mint Gun Club)

Oxley, chamomile, honey suckle and cornish manuka leaf cordial
The Mint Gun Club partnered with Oxley Gin to come up with a selection of incredible Gimlet riffs. This pair of cocktails were both uniquely wonderful and I now need to find out when I can visit the Mint Gun Club again to beg them for more. Or, you know, pay like a normal customer.

Get the recipe

YON-JU-ROKU MARK (Four Degree)

Maker's Mark 46, Japanese syrup, yuzu juice, Japanese syrup, sparkling sake
This was another highlight among highlights, not least because it came with a small serving of homemade popcorn. The Japanese inspiration here makes for a wonderfully well-balanced drink, which was my favourite whisky cocktail of the whole night.

Get the recipe

Lovelace (Little Bat)

Tanqueray No.Ten, champagne & elderflower syrup, hopped grapefruit bitters, lemon, aquafaba
I'll be honest, as much as I enjoyed this drink, it was slightly overshadowed by the fact that Little Bat was also hosting a NEGRONI FOUNTAIN right next to their bar. The Negroni in question that spewed forth from those wonderful alcohol-giving nozzles was made with Tanqueray's new Sevilla Gin and Italicus, another relatively new and intriguing product, utilised here as the clear herbal component of the drink.

Get the recipe

This... Slushie (Little Nan's Bar)

I know nothing about this drink other than it came out of a big slushie dispenser, and that there was an entire section next to it that Little Nan had dedicated to a 'self-serve' garnish station filled with sweets, cocktail paraphernalia and other fun garish decorations. This understated attempt in the pic above was somehow my best effort.

A Toast To 1757 (The Bloomsbury Club Bar)

Roe & Co, homemade macadamia, pear and apple syrup, pecan tincture
Not much more to say here that the recipe doesn't say for itself. This was such a wonderful combination of flavours, with the macadamia really shining through for me.

Get the recipe

Rhubarb Crush (Gaucho)

Elit Vodka, Fair Acai Liqueur, spiced rhubarb syrup, lemon, egg white
Last, but certainly no means least, This Rhubarb Crush gave a jolt to the brain and a sharp tartness to the palate. Extra points for laying this thin strip over the top of the glass as a sexy garnish, like a seductive lady leaning back on a chaise longue. Hmm, there’s a reason I don’t write menus.
So there we go. That’s about as much as... oh, god I've just remembered that I also tried some homemade bourbon whisky and chocolate sorbet. Forget everything - that’s the only thing that matters now.

Tags: Cocktails In The City, Bars

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