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Andrew Leitch/Eater London

Where to Drink in London This Christmas

Hot chocolate, festive wine, imitation Bailey’s — and more

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When it comes to December, there are better options out there than an egg nog latte. And, whether one’s inclination is vinous, spirited or virginal, here’s a guide to best hydration practice, and some one-off events, during this eminently thirsty time of the year.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Cascara at Le Café Alain Ducasse

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Bagley Walk, Kings Cross
London N1C, UK

Midway along the largely anonymous, largely amorphous mass that is Coal Drops Yard, is Le Café Alain Ducasse. It’s a saving grace, and a new high for high-end coffee in London. Here filter is made behind the swooping zinc counter with all the ceremony of a martini. The coffee — between £3–£15 — is extremely fine but try the cascara (the caffeinated cherry, of the coffee bean) ground in a huge marble pestle on the counter, and served up like whisky. Best consumed with Ducasse’s single origin ganaches from next door.

2. Winemakers Deptford

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209 Deptford High St
London SE8 3NT, UK

Head down to Winemakers’ South London outpost in Deptford which reopened, after a pause for breath, last month. Serious wines, curios and oddities, including grower champagnes from Jérôme Lefèvre of Eliane Delalot and Oliver Horiot. Soups, broths, herrings and game birds to mop up the juices.

3. Islay Cream at The Clove Club

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Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old St
London EC1V 9LT, UK

White Christmasses may be thin on the ground but cream-based drinks certainly aren’t. Amid the veritable drifts of sweet, sickly and cloying, Rob Simpson’s silkily aloof Islay Cream — available at the The Clove Club Bar — looks deceptively like a glass of milk, until that peaty burn of Bruichladdich’s Port Charlotte drags its drinker somewhere deep. Chase it up with the sloe gin.

4. Stonerolled Tea at Prufrock Coffee

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23-25 Leather Ln
London EC1N 7TE, UK

A new kind of tea latte, developed in 2017 by Mayfair’s Postcard Teas. There are three options — green, black and oolong, all blended from teas individually roasted and then ground to a fine powder between granite stones. Finished with milk, in cortado (4oz), flat white (6oz) and latte (8oz) sizings. Green best short; oolong and black can take more milk. Aromatic, moussey and savoury — if a Brandy Alexander could be a cup of tea.

Best Christmas drinks in London: Stonerolled tea at Prufrock Coffee Kate Beard

5. Ir-ish Coffee at Aside

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56 Goldsmith Rd
London SE15 5TF, UK

Innovative creations from the constantly questing minds at Peckham’s Aside. Owner Rob Dunne is also director at Old Spike Roastery, so watch out for drinks with coffee as an ingredient. A vegetal Vesper made with green-coffee infused vodka; a nutmeggy, whisky-cream capped Irish coffee; an espresso martini.  

Best Christmas drinks in London: Irish Coffee at Aside Rob Dunne/Aside

6. Pump Street Bakery Hot Chocolate at Lyle's

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Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High St
London E1 6JJ, UK

Lyle’s is known for its extremely good take on caffeine, which becomes even better in December when Anna Higham’s pies — mince and quince — hit the bar counter. But the Pump Street hot chocolate, made with a ganache base, is less known. Take alongside a slug of bourbon, or keep it clean, before heading out into the night.

Best Christmas drinks in London: Pump Street Bakery hot chocolate at Lyle’s Freddie Janssen

7. Mystery Malt at Cub

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153 Hoxton St, Hoxton
London N1 6PJ, UK

In among the concoctions at Cub — think tinctures of chicken feather or a beeswax Old Fashioned — there’s a December mystery malt being sold off by the £10 dram. All in aid of charity CALM, which provides support for men in mental health crisis. It’s only the most recent in a long line of powerful initiatives from this extremely conscious kitchen and the wider Mr Lyan community.

8. Mulled Cider at Marksman Public House

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254 Hackney Rd
London E2 7SJ, UK

Spiced old fashioneds and mulled cider are bar specials this month. Hunker down in a dark corner with a couple of these and a warm suety pork pie. Pies are weekend only, and sell out by mid-afternoon, so time a beverage accordingly.

Best Christmas drinks London: Marksman Hackney Ola Smit/Eater London

9. Newcomer Wines Christmas Party

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5 Dalston Ln
London E8 3DE, UK

Austrian wine importer Newcomer is putting on a party at its wine bar/shop on 16 December, together with the like-minded Kiffe My Wines and Totem Wines. Salivate at walls lined with the extremely on-trend bottles of Christian Tschida, Preisinger et al., but pass on through to the garden for mulled wine and roasted chestnuts.

Best Christmas drinks in London: Newcomer Wines Dalston Newcomer Wines [Official]

10. Green Mandarin Negroni at Quality Wines

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88 Farringdon Rd, Clerkenwell
London EC1R 3EA, UK

Quality Wines — the wine bar arm to The Quality Chop Shop and House — is barely out of the crèche, but already serious business. From Nick Bramham’s parmesan biscuit on in, via chopped liver toasts, fish soups with a rouille, partridge and cannolo, Gus Gluck’s wines are on hand to oil proceedings. Wines are in the name but there’s also a very good negroni hiding out in the wings, making devilishly good use of preserved green mandarin.

Best Christmas drinks London: Quality Wines Farringdon Quality Wines/Instagram

11. Tomato Eau de Vie at Bright

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1 Westgate St
London E8 3RL, UK

Bright’s bar has recently-ish snuck in some after-dinner drinks. Laurent Cazottes’ haunting, umami, 72 Tomates is a deeply savoury eau de vie from countless tomato varieties — or indeed, 72 — steeped in brandy. Or, there’s the vertigo-inducing Empirical Spirits’ Fallen Pony blend — koji and fermented barley wash blended with distilled quince kombucha.

Best Christmas drinks London: Tomato eau de vie at Bright Bright/Instagram

1. Cascara at Le Café Alain Ducasse

Bagley Walk, Kings Cross, London N1C, UK

Midway along the largely anonymous, largely amorphous mass that is Coal Drops Yard, is Le Café Alain Ducasse. It’s a saving grace, and a new high for high-end coffee in London. Here filter is made behind the swooping zinc counter with all the ceremony of a martini. The coffee — between £3–£15 — is extremely fine but try the cascara (the caffeinated cherry, of the coffee bean) ground in a huge marble pestle on the counter, and served up like whisky. Best consumed with Ducasse’s single origin ganaches from next door.

Bagley Walk, Kings Cross
London N1C, UK

2. Winemakers Deptford

209 Deptford High St, London SE8 3NT, UK

Head down to Winemakers’ South London outpost in Deptford which reopened, after a pause for breath, last month. Serious wines, curios and oddities, including grower champagnes from Jérôme Lefèvre of Eliane Delalot and Oliver Horiot. Soups, broths, herrings and game birds to mop up the juices.

209 Deptford High St
London SE8 3NT, UK

3. Islay Cream at The Clove Club

Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old St, London EC1V 9LT, UK

White Christmasses may be thin on the ground but cream-based drinks certainly aren’t. Amid the veritable drifts of sweet, sickly and cloying, Rob Simpson’s silkily aloof Islay Cream — available at the The Clove Club Bar — looks deceptively like a glass of milk, until that peaty burn of Bruichladdich’s Port Charlotte drags its drinker somewhere deep. Chase it up with the sloe gin.

Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old St
London EC1V 9LT, UK

4. Stonerolled Tea at Prufrock Coffee

23-25 Leather Ln, London EC1N 7TE, UK
Best Christmas drinks in London: Stonerolled tea at Prufrock Coffee Kate Beard

A new kind of tea latte, developed in 2017 by Mayfair’s Postcard Teas. There are three options — green, black and oolong, all blended from teas individually roasted and then ground to a fine powder between granite stones. Finished with milk, in cortado (4oz), flat white (6oz) and latte (8oz) sizings. Green best short; oolong and black can take more milk. Aromatic, moussey and savoury — if a Brandy Alexander could be a cup of tea.

23-25 Leather Ln
London EC1N 7TE, UK

5. Ir-ish Coffee at Aside

56 Goldsmith Rd, London SE15 5TF, UK
Best Christmas drinks in London: Irish Coffee at Aside Rob Dunne/Aside

Innovative creations from the constantly questing minds at Peckham’s Aside. Owner Rob Dunne is also director at Old Spike Roastery, so watch out for drinks with coffee as an ingredient. A vegetal Vesper made with green-coffee infused vodka; a nutmeggy, whisky-cream capped Irish coffee; an espresso martini.  

56 Goldsmith Rd
London SE15 5TF, UK

6. Pump Street Bakery Hot Chocolate at Lyle's

Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High St, London E1 6JJ, UK
Best Christmas drinks in London: Pump Street Bakery hot chocolate at Lyle’s Freddie Janssen

Lyle’s is known for its extremely good take on caffeine, which becomes even better in December when Anna Higham’s pies — mince and quince — hit the bar counter. But the Pump Street hot chocolate, made with a ganache base, is less known. Take alongside a slug of bourbon, or keep it clean, before heading out into the night.

Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High St
London E1 6JJ, UK

7. Mystery Malt at Cub

153 Hoxton St, Hoxton, London N1 6PJ, UK

In among the concoctions at Cub — think tinctures of chicken feather or a beeswax Old Fashioned — there’s a December mystery malt being sold off by the £10 dram. All in aid of charity CALM, which provides support for men in mental health crisis. It’s only the most recent in a long line of powerful initiatives from this extremely conscious kitchen and the wider Mr Lyan community.

153 Hoxton St, Hoxton
London N1 6PJ, UK

8. Mulled Cider at Marksman Public House

254 Hackney Rd, London E2 7SJ, UK
Best Christmas drinks London: Marksman Hackney Ola Smit/Eater London

Spiced old fashioneds and mulled cider are bar specials this month. Hunker down in a dark corner with a couple of these and a warm suety pork pie. Pies are weekend only, and sell out by mid-afternoon, so time a beverage accordingly.

254 Hackney Rd
London E2 7SJ, UK

9. Newcomer Wines Christmas Party

5 Dalston Ln, London E8 3DE, UK
Best Christmas drinks in London: Newcomer Wines Dalston Newcomer Wines [Official]

Austrian wine importer Newcomer is putting on a party at its wine bar/shop on 16 December, together with the like-minded Kiffe My Wines and Totem Wines. Salivate at walls lined with the extremely on-trend bottles of Christian Tschida, Preisinger et al., but pass on through to the garden for mulled wine and roasted chestnuts.

5 Dalston Ln
London E8 3DE, UK

10. Green Mandarin Negroni at Quality Wines

88 Farringdon Rd, Clerkenwell, London EC1R 3EA, UK
Best Christmas drinks London: Quality Wines Farringdon Quality Wines/Instagram

Quality Wines — the wine bar arm to The Quality Chop Shop and House — is barely out of the crèche, but already serious business. From Nick Bramham’s parmesan biscuit on in, via chopped liver toasts, fish soups with a rouille, partridge and cannolo, Gus Gluck’s wines are on hand to oil proceedings. Wines are in the name but there’s also a very good negroni hiding out in the wings, making devilishly good use of preserved green mandarin.

88 Farringdon Rd, Clerkenwell
London EC1R 3EA, UK

11. Tomato Eau de Vie at Bright

1 Westgate St, London E8 3RL, UK
Best Christmas drinks London: Tomato eau de vie at Bright Bright/Instagram

Bright’s bar has recently-ish snuck in some after-dinner drinks. Laurent Cazottes’ haunting, umami, 72 Tomates is a deeply savoury eau de vie from countless tomato varieties — or indeed, 72 — steeped in brandy. Or, there’s the vertigo-inducing Empirical Spirits’ Fallen Pony blend — koji and fermented barley wash blended with distilled quince kombucha.

1 Westgate St
London E8 3RL, UK

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