It’s summertime, and living is easy… It’s time to say hello to cocktail season!
A good cocktail can be delicious, but it can get even better when there’s a story to its creation.
In 1874, for example, bar patrons would ask another “have you seen Tom Collins?”, then inform the listener that Mr. Collins was talking poorly about them and inform them that he’s still nearby as they became agitated.
Each year, hundreds of thousands Mint Juleps are drank during the Kentucky Derby.
E.B. White (the author of Charlotte’s Web) once described a Martini as “the elixir of quietude.” And Donn Beach supposedly created the Zombie to help a hung-over customer get through a meeting only to discover it packs a punch.
While London may not have the same kind of alcohol history as New Orleans or Chicago, that doesn’t mean we can’t have our own cocktails inspired by our history. So, with some collaboration from local bartender Nate Latta to help fine tune some of the recipes, here are ten cocktails inspired by the Forest City’s history and culture!
1. The Olympian
1 oz. Tequila
1 oz pineapple juice
½ oz Banana Liquor
Splash of Galiano
The Forest City has been home to a few champions, although more recently it has been Olympic gold medal figure skaters Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue that have caught the attention of Londoners. So what better way to show support for gold medalist then by drinking a golden cocktail?
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add tequila, pineapple juice, banana liquor, and galiano. Shake, and then strain into a hurricane glass. Top with 7/Up and garnish with pineapple.
But just remember, just because you’re drunk doesn’t mean you can pull off those athletic abilities the pros do! And definitely don’t try any backflips on ice.
2. The Thundermug
1 oz Amarula
½ Grand Marnier
2 oz Ice Coffee
They say the best cure for a hangover is more alcohol!
Named after the London Music Hall-of-Famer band, Thundermug, the key ingredient here is the South African cream, Amarula. Inspired by the band’s early 70’s single “Africa”, this coffee cocktail is a kickstart to any day that follows a night of rocking out.
And when Thundermug members Bill Durst and Joe de Angelis play Bluesfest this summer, why not get yourself ready with this delicious goodness?
Add Amarula, Grand Marnier, and ice coffee. Blend over ice and pour into an irish coffee glass.
3. The Hart of London
1 oz. Bourbon
1 oz. Sloe Gin
½ oz Southern Comfort
2 oz Watermelon Juice
Splash of Grenadine
The Hart of London is a 1970 experimental film by Jack Chambers. It was once declared by Stan Brakhage as “one of the greatest films ever made.” But Chambers is no stranger to tributes, as he even has an elementary school in London named after him.
Its lovely red colour will surely win your eyes, but the taste will win your heart.
Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake, and then strain into a hurricane glass. Garnish with watermelon.
4. The Aziz
1 ½ oz Crown Royal
1 oz Ginger Beer
Earlier in the year, Fuser James Reaney did a feature about local photographer Victor Aziz. In one of his most famous shots, Aziz snapped Dundas St. on a rainy night as the vibrant colourful neon signs reflected off the wet pavement. In the click of a shutter, Aziz had forever captured London during an era gone but not forgotten.
According to his son, Victor Aziz Jr, the photographer had a preference for Crown Royal and ginger so it’s only fitting that the cocktail named in his honour follows suit.
Rim a rocks glass with ground ginger. Add Crown and ginger beer. Top off with pineapple juice and float Chambord. Garnish with pineapple.
5. The Flaming Fleming News Van
¾ oz Barcardi 151
¼ Melon Liquor
Ahhhh… there’s nothing quite like celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Wearing green from head to toe, drinking green beer, maybe evening blasting some Celtic music for good measure or setting a news van on fire.
In 2012, London made headlines when St. Paddy’s Day parties turned sour and a riot broke out. Every year since then, Londoners are reminded to behave themselves come March 17. So when Martin Luther King said “a riot is the language of the unheard,” clearly he wasn’t talking about the Forest City.
We just like to riot when we’re drunk, apparently.
Pour Bacardi and Melon Liquor into a shot glass. Remember – 151 is flammable, so you can light that baby up like it’s your favourite news van, and drop it in Red Bull. Then chug it!
6. Sex at the Beef
1 oz Peach Schnapps
1 oz Grenadine
Maybe you’ve tried Sex on the Beach, but have you ever had Sex at the Beef?
Like it or not, the Beef Baron is a staple of London. Comedian Tom Segura made a skit out of it, and more recently even The White Buffalo made reference to it during his show at the London Music Hall in March. The fruity taste makes it easy to drink, the ruby red colour makes it easy on the eyes.
Add peach schnapps and grenadine to a pilsner glass. Top with Kronenburg Rouge, and float galiano on top. Garnish with an orange slice.
7. The London Calling
1 oz Gin
1 oz Blue Curacao
2 oz Cranberry Juice
If you tell someone you’re from London, the first thing they’re going to think is England. Which is understandable, considering it is one of the most famous cities in the world. We were even named after it by John Graves Simcoe in 1793. With a cocktail inspired by the Union Jack, who says we can’t be Swingin’ London as well?
Add gin and cranberry juice to a rocks glass. Slowly pour in the blue curacao (it’s supposed to be layered… didn’t really turn out that way but it’s the thought that counts, right?).
8. The Richmond Six
1 oz Amber Rum
1 oz Spiced Rum
½ oz Chambord
½ oz Blue Curacao
½ Orange Juice
Vanilla Cream Soda
Everyone’s favourite designated driver, the LTC! Six ingredients make up for one hard drink. Since Richmond St. is pretty much bar heaven for London, it’s only suiting that the strongest drink be named after the bus route that travels it. Drink too many of these, and you’ll be that token drunk passing out on the bus ride home!
In a shaker full of ice, add both rums, Chambord, Blue Curacao, and orange juice. Shake, then strain into a large glass. Top with vanilla cream soda and garnish with an orange slice.
9. The Lord Talbot
1 oz Gin
½ Lemon Juice
There will always be a soft spot in Londoner’s heart for everyone’s beloved can opener, the Talbot St. bridge. It even has its own Twitter account. And no matter how many trucks get destroyed while trying to drive under it, we all still wait with anticipation for the next. So for an absolute wreck of a bridge, it gets a shot that’s sure to make an absolute wreck of your Friday night!
Add gin and lemon juice to a shot glass, then add a few drops of Tabasco for that extra bit of misery!
10. Thames Water
2 oz Bailey’s Irish Cream
½ oz Crème de Cacao
1 tsp Simple Syrup
Saved the best for last!
While pitching the idea about cocktails inspired by London, nearly everyone said the same thing first: Thames Water. Maybe it’s London’s defining trait, or maybe everyone just really wants to try a nice refreshing sip of that muddy water.
It might not be as romantic as the Mississippi River, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spend those dreamy summer nights floating down the Thames with this drink!
In a julep cup, muddle simple syrup and mint leaves. Fill cup with crushed ice. Pour Bailey’s and Crème de Cacao in, then top with milk. Garnish with mint leaves.