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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.
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Cascara at Le Café Alain Ducasse

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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.

Winemakers Deptford

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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.

Islay Cream at The Clove Club

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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.

Stonerolled Tea at Prufrock Coffee

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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

Ir-ish Coffee at Aside

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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

Pump Street Bakery Hot Chocolate at Lyle's

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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

Mystery Malt at Cub

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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.

Mulled Cider at Marksman Public House

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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

Newcomer Wines Christmas Party

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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]

Green Mandarin Negroni at Quality Wines

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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

Tomato Eau de Vie at Bright

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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

Cascara at Le Café Alain Ducasse

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.

Winemakers Deptford

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.

Islay Cream at The Clove Club

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.

Stonerolled Tea at Prufrock Coffee

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.

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

Ir-ish Coffee at Aside

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.  

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

Pump Street Bakery Hot Chocolate at Lyle's

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.

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

Mystery Malt at Cub

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.

Mulled Cider at Marksman Public House

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.

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

Newcomer Wines Christmas Party

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.

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

Green Mandarin Negroni at Quality Wines

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.

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

Tomato Eau de Vie at Bright

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.

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

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