Blacktail bar interior

Hottest drinks news: November 2016

olive booze pro Sarah Kingsbury tracks down what to drink and where to drink it. Expect campfire cocktails and smokey beers, just in time for Bonfire Night

Changing with the seasons

Fevertree tonic water and mescal

Summer might be over, but don’t panic, you can swap gin for mescal! A super-smoked one might be too much for your first experience, so sample a few and find which one you like most. Lots of bars stock mezcal (you’ll get serious brownie points from your bartender) while Mexican restaurant chain Wahaca are all over the M&T.


Where to be seen

Blacktail bar interior

The most exciting opening in NYC for a while, Blacktail is the new bar from the team behind the award-winning Dead Rabbit. A 120-seat waterfront space at Pier A decked out with wicker chairs, potted palms and antiques, this bar channels prohibition-era Cuba – its name refers to the seaplanes that used to whisk booze-starved New Yorkers from Manhattan to Havana.

The menu is split into five categories (highball, punch, old fashioned, sour and cocktail), with all drinks inspired by prohibition recipes. Try the Rum & Cola (rum, amaro, Coca-Cola, champagne and bitters), or the Parkeroo (tequila, mezcal, manzanilla sherry, falernum, yuzu, pineapple and green pepper), and order some rum-glazed ribs or crispy Cuban fries to nibble on.

Cocktail of the month

Bourbon Cocktail Recipe

There’s nothing that signals the beginning of autumn quite like the smell of a bonfire. Intensely nostalgic, it conjures images of crunching through piles of leaves, sparklers and toasted marshmallows. It’s the latter that has inspired this cocktail from the brilliant team at whisky bar Black Rock just off Finsbury Square, London EC2. There’s only a smidge of peaty Lagavulin in this, so it’s not too challenging if smoky whisky isn’t normally your thing.

Stay ahead of the game

Oskar Kinberg’s new book (the man behind Oskar’s bar at Michelin-starred Dabbous in London), is not only beautiful, but easy to use, each chapter focussing on a fresh ingredient (cucumber, tonka bean, sorrel leaf) rather than a spirit. With 75 easy-but-impressive recipes, this is one to have on hand for your next party. Cocktail Cookbook by Oskar Kinberg (£18, Frances Lincoln Publishers).

Three of the best… bonfire beers

A super-smoky porter from Beavertown, Smog Rocket was inspired by the Industrial Revolution when this style was popular. Brewed with nine different malts, it packs chocolate, coffee and nutty notes in with the smoke and is perfect for Bonfire Night.

If you’re after something hedonistic, pick up a bottle of Wild Beer Co’s Millionaire. The Somerset brewery uses only natural yeasts, and this particular beer is rich and decadent with a caramel flavour and a hint of Cornish sea salt. It tastes like liquid pudding.

Brew by numbers oatmeal stout

Another indulgent beer, Brew By Numbers’ 08|06 oatmeal stout uses oats in the grist (the ground malt that’s then put in the mash tun as part of the brewing process).This makes for a creamy beer with a gentle bitterness.

Must-try bar snacks

Claridge's bar snack
Stewed Rabbit

Thanks to Fera’s new bar snacks menu at Claridge’s, you can try five bites of Simon Rogan’s food for just £15 per person. We started with chickpea wafer with curd, herbs and flowers – exquisite – a crisp base topped with velvety curd, a mustard emulsion and rhubarb vinegar. Next came soft, rich, stewed rabbit with lovage and crisp, salty onion tangles. Another snack of whipped, slightly sweet pea mousse, served in what looked like a stone egg cup, had a secret layer of thick crème fraîche. All the while we sipped on a magically creamy green apple, yogurt and cucumber gin cocktail.