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Bite to drink? The best savoury cocktails in London

Posted at 5:15 pm, June 5, 2015 in Food & Drink
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Not sweet, not sour, some of London’s most modish cocktails have flavours that you’d usually find on a plate. Alexi Duggins tucks in. 

The soupy one

What is it?

The Tom Yam from the Sushisamba bar at the top of Heron Tower. They describe it as ‘fresh and citrussy with fiery undertones’.

What’s in it?

Coriander-infused vodka, red chilli slices, ginger, kaffir lime leaves. It’s served with a shiso-leaf-wrapped turbot nigiri. HOW DOES IT TASTE? Putting the flavours of tom yam soup into a long, iced drink might sound like the worst pairing since someone introduced Jeremy Clarkson to the phrase ‘No steak for you!’. It is, however, spicy, aromatic, zingy perfection.

Who’s it for?

Spice fans. Those red chillis pack a punch.

£14. Sushisamba, Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY. Liverpool St.

The Smoky One

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What is it?

The Soju Fiction at Soho east Asian restaurant and bar Bó Drake. It mixes Korean spirit soju with whisky, then adds smoke to ‘ignite the flavours’.

What’s in it?

Yamazaki whisky, soju, vermouth, lavender bitters, bamboo syrup and hickory smoke.

How does it taste?

Deliciously smoky: the longer you leave the stopper on the bottle, the smokier this take on an Old Fashioned becomes. It’s like savouring a wonderful whisky surrounded by the aromas of a summer barbecue.

Who’s it for?

Value-for-money geeks – there’s 100ml of alcohol in this puppy.

£8. Bó Drake, 6 Greek St, W1D 4DE. Tottenham Court Rd

The salady one

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What is it?

The Green Park, served at The American Bar at The Savoy hotel. It’s a verdant contemporary twist on the White Lady, a gin sour made at the bar in the 1900s. Apparently, head bartender Eric Lorincz came up with it one rainy evening for a guest who was disappointed at not being able to go to the park.

What’s in it?

Bombay Sapphire gin, lemon juice, sugar, egg white, basil, celery bitters.

How does it taste?

Fresh as a spring breeze, sharp as a winter midnight and herbal as one of Snoop Dogg’s roll-ups, this basilheavy tipple tastes like a salad that’s been blended then shaken with booze. In a good way.

Who’s it for?

People who think that green drinks must be healthy.

£16. American Bar at The Savoy, 100 Strand, WC2R Just want 0EW. Charing Cross.

The wavy one

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What is it?

The Beyond the Sea at Nightjar‘s secret basement bar by Old Street roundabout. Waxing poetic, they explain it thus: ‘Beyond the Sea combines savoury Mediterranean notes with dry sherries, grapefruit juice and bitters. We conceived it to be reminiscent of a beautiful and bracing day by the sea.’ Ah, you can almost hear the seagulls squawking.

What’s in it?

Gin Mare gin, oyster leaf infusion, yuzu bitters, grapefruit juice, sherry blend and plankton air.

How does it taste?

It looks like a prop from a stage version of ‘Lord of the Flies’ which has been used to bale out a malfunctioning washing machine, but it tastes great. It’s all mouthdrying sherry flavour with a sweetish finish that’s so fruity you’d barely know the thing has plankton in it.

Who’s it for?

Anyone wanting to gingerly dip their toe into this whole savoury cocktails business. And ‘Little Mermaid’ fans.

£12. Nightjar, 129 City Rd, EC1V 1JB. Old St.

Photography: Rob Greig

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