While there’s nothing quite like a beautifully-made cocktail to unwind with after work, I’ve recently felt there was something missing from the experience. Yes, a Negroni or a Tom Collins might be enjoyable, but are they exactly what I’m looking for?
2018 is predicted to be the year of the bespoke cocktail, and I, for one, couldn’t be more excited. Rather than asking a professional mixologist to make you cocktail listed on the menu, the mixologist will ask a series of questions about your preferences, in order to create a perfect cocktail, just for you.
How does it work?
Visiting a bar that specialises in bespoke cocktails is perfect for when a set-menu item just won’t cut it. While in years gone by, customers would be impressed by a bartender recalling their ‘usual’, customers have come to expect a more personalised cocktail experience. Fortunately, professional mixologists are staying ahead of the game. This 2018 trend has already swept through the United States and is appearing in London bars and restaurants.
To get the most out of your bespoke cocktail experience, you need to trust the professionals. They will ask you a set of questions to identify specific tastes and preferences in order to whip up your ideal beverage. Food and travel blogger Miss Tam Chiak summed up the trend nicely after sampling bespoke cocktails in Singapore: “I love the bespoke excitement from the cocktails, because every time you go, you have a totally different drink according to your mood.”
You might never have thought of the combination you eventually end up with – mixologists are renowned for being creative and a little eccentric with their ideas, after all. Many bars also offer a bespoke cocktail menu, which allows you to customise according to your preferences.
In an interview with Weekender, Gareth Evans, Global Brand Ambassador of Absolut Elyx, was asked how one should go about ordering a bespoke cocktail: “Just talk to the bartender and say what you like or don’t. Be open-minded. Quite often, you hear people say ‘I don’t want anything to taste too strong’, but the word ‘strong’ doesn’t really mean what they think it means. If it’s a well-made cocktail, it won’t taste overly-spirited.”
Testing the trend
It’s no secret that London is full of cocktail bars, from the eccentric to the expensive, and some in between. However in order to test the trend of bespoke cocktails, there are a few particularly exciting places that should definitely be on your list.
Independent bar and restaurant group, Drake & Morgan, has launched a tantalising new spring/summer menu, complemented by breezy botanical cocktails. The fresh cocktail list was created by Drake & Morgan mixologist Fabrizio Cioffi of Edinburgh’s The Refinery, in partnership with London Essence and Chris Edwards of cocktail consultancy Salts of the Earth. It features classic and experimental cocktails using herbs, spices, berries and vegetables commonly found in an English garden. Expect bespoke cocktails using feisty gins by the Boutique-y Gin Company, sage, hazelnut, dandelion, rosemary tonic and Ketel One vodka.
As well as quirky favourites like The Gibson, Clerkenwell & Social and The Natural Philosopher, which all serve eclectic, bespoke cocktails, many bars in London are now creating their own bespoke spirits to serve. Mayfair hotels The Connaught and The Athenaeum have both commissioned their own whisky, and the East London Liquor Company specialises in homemade cocktails and will even bottle up your favourite handcrafted spirit to take home. Pothecary Gin, with notes of lavender and citrus, is stocked at the Rosewood Hotel. Mixologists aspire to use this aromatic gin in their bespoke cocktails to recreate the floral aromas you might experience while walking in a wildflower meadow – a truly soft and refreshing taste.
As the bespoke cocktail trend continues throughout 2018, I’m looking forward to seeing how adapting a drink to someone’s mood and personality will change the drinks game. Perhaps we’ll be seeing a few new favourites on menus throughout the capital next year.