The dust may have settled on Dry January, but the UK’s appetite for low/no alcohol drinks is on the rise, with the latest data from YouGov suggesting that 24% of UK adults have cut down their alcohol consumption in the last 6 months. The country’s bars have responded with a fine array of excellent alternatives.
London in particular is becoming a hub for alcohol free drinks that transform the mocktail from a party pooping portmanteau to an attractive lifestyle choice. We have made it our mission to find London’s best boozeless beverages, so you can enjoy a spirit-free drink without skimping on style. From unusual ingredients to head-turning interiors, read on to discover where to find London’s best mocktails.
Why? For beautifully presented drinks in the World’s Best Hotel Bar.
What? Previous winner of the World’s Best Hotel Bar, The Connaught Bar is a sophisticated staple of Mayfair’s bar scene. If you need any more convincing of its pedigree, it was recently awarded Best Bar in Europe (2019) at the World’s 50 Best Bars.
Before even opening the cocktail menu, give yourself a moment to take in your surroundings; the textured silver walls and sleek black chairs are a feast for the eyes. To drink, the legendary martini trolley (with 25 gins including The Connaught Bar’s very own gin) isn’t on the cards this time but instead, a non alcoholic tipple is a must. Try the ‘Flora’, a tribute to all the women of The Connaught with Aecorn dry, purple cordial, London Essence Peach and jasmine soda. Floral, herbal and has a hint of sweetness. To go with this, try the ultimate bar snack: A black truffle pizza with a creamy Fontina cheese (scroll to the bottom to see this utterly delectable creation) that lingers on the palate gracefully.
Where? The Connaught, Carlos Place, Mayfair, W1K 2AL
Why? For a booze-free bar trading in hangovers for health and rejuvenation.
What? London’s newest no/low hangout has is determined to challenge the idea that you can only enjoy a bar if there’s alcohol involved. Set in the lobby of Aldgate’s Leman Locke hotel, the menu is as enticing as the muted pastel interiors and spiralling staircase, with cocktails having no/low down to a science. Our top pick is the ‘Locke Island Iced Tea’ (Caleño, iced tea, lemon and agave syrup) but the ‘Lavanderia’ (Ceder’s non-alcoholic gin and lavender syrup) gets a special mention for its presentation as it’s topped with an incense-like burning sprig of lavender. On a chilly evening, try a ginger shot before heading out into the cold – its warming effect is similar to whiskey and kinder to your liver.
Where? 15/17 Leman St, Whitechapel, E1 8EN
Why? For high-concept cocktails with unbeatable Thames views.
What? Lyaness owner Ryan Chetiyawardana has a whole host of bar awards in his back pocket – including World’s Best Bar for Lyaness’s predecessor, Dandelyon – and his latest nautically-inspired venture is a masterclass in the no/low trend too. If you get to grips with the mildly bamboozling cocktail menu that’s somewhat reminiscent of the London Underground map, you’ll realise that the drinks are all designed to show off seven core ingredients – and that over half of them can be made boozeless, too. Ingredients are high-concept and borrow flavour elements from popular tipples – like the ‘Golden South Sea Pearl’, which mixes the breadiness of champagne with the tartness of raspberry to create a creamy drink that’s perfect for sipping on while soberly drinking in the views of the Thames.
Where? 20 Upper Ground, South Bank, SE1 9PD
Why? For musically-inspired mocktails in of London’s most stunning hotels.
What? With a past clientele including Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra and interiors that manage to encapsulate old-school glamour without being pretentious, The Savoy’s American Bar is nothing short of a London icon. Its cocktail list – the Savoy Songbook – pays homage to musical legends who have populated the bar over the years, and while drinks like a ‘Lonely Street’ (an Elvis-inspired creation including ingredients like Craigellachie 17-year-old whiskey and smoke) are the epitome of luxury cocktails, there’s also a brilliant range of musically-inclined mocktails. The ‘Smoke on the Water’ mixes Seedlip Grove with burnt barley, honey, soda and you guessed it, smoke. Also I tried an ‘Intergalactic’ – a feisty number with Aecron Aromatic, coffee, spiced pineapple syrup, lime, chilli and soda. To complete the experience, don’t miss the live pianist performing every day from 6:30pm to 11:30pm.
Where? The Savoy, Strand, WC2R 0EZ
Why? For proper Mexican food and the most refreshing mocktails around.
What? While Mexico is typically known as the home of tequila and margaritas, it’s also where the lesser-known Agua Frescas originate from. Literally translating as ‘fresh waters’, these drinks are refreshing combinations of fruits, cereals, flowers and seeds. They’re given a magical incarnation at theatrical Mexican restaurant, Ella Canta. The ‘Pre-Hispanic Lemonade’ is delicious, but the standout drink is a ‘Watermelon, Pink Peppercorn and Habanero’: a seductively refreshing juice with an invigorating hit of spice. Round off the whole experience with snacks including a golden grasshopper guacamole, cured salmon tostadas and their off menu extra hot chilli sauce (which is by special request only!)
Where? One Hamilton Place, Park Lane, Mayfair, W1J 7QY
Why? For stylish mocktails in art-deco interiors.
What? Boulevard opened its newly-renovated doors a little over three months ago and, as well as being a stylish new theatre, it’s also got a brand-new art-deco inspired bar that’s a drinking destination in its own right – and they’ve got mocktails aplenty. The plush seats next to the floor-to-ceiling windows in the deep blue boudoir-lit bar are a great place to sip on a ‘Pink Fizz’ (grapefruit, mint and soda) and absorb the hum of Soho. You can then slink off into Boulevard’s main restaurant with the buzzing post-theatre crowd for dinner.
Where? 6 Walker’s Court, Soho, W1F 0BT
Why? To snuggle up next to a wood-burning stove with a mocktail.
What? This cosy bar was the haunt of MI6 agents during the 1930s and it’s even got a cocktail list named after them. Nowadays, it’s the preferred hangout spot of a luxury clientele who come to relax on one of the many sophisticated sofas piled with deer-patterned cushions. Nab a spot next to the wood-burning stoves and forgo a Mojito for a ‘Mo’ – a refreshing mix of pear, lime, hint of sugar, soda and mint that you could drink all night. To finish with an extra lick of luxury, head out onto the hotel’s heated terrace and order a selection of the Scottish-inspired snacks. Their interpretation of a deep-fried Mars bar is incredible.
Where? 2 Caxton St, Westminster, SW1H 0QW
Why? For creative cocktails in a historical bar.
What? The Distillery sits atop of what used to be a fragrance factory in the 19th century and it pays tribute to its heritage by handmaking all of the syrups and infusions used in its huge drinks list that features over 100 types of gin. Mocktails have not been forgotten in this craftsmanship either, with mixologists working hard to create similarly complex flavours sans spirits. You wouldn’t go wrong in ordering a ‘Lady Bankside’, a cinnamon-rich tipple mixing Seedlip Spice, grapefruit, pomelo and pink pepper. A bowl of the shredded duck loaded fries will go down a treat too.
Where? 2-8 Great Suffolk St, Bankside, SE1 0UG
Why? For flower-topped mocktails and vegan bar snacks.
What? Famed for being the world’s first alcohol-free bar when it opened in 2015, it is kitted out with marble countertops and seriously Instagrammable drinks. The majority of tipples are geared around health, like the ‘Flu Fighters Martini’ (ginger, citrus, aloe vera and chilli) which will give your immune system a boost at this time of the year, while a ‘Love and Tonic’ adds an element of romance that’s best enjoyed over one of their vegan cheeseboards. Plus, they have three locations all across London.
Where? 6 Chepstow Road, W2 5BH (Notting Hill); 320 Old Street, EC1V 9DR (Shoreditch); 2 Neal’s Yard/15 Shorts Gardens, WC2H 9AT (Seven Dials).
Why? For fresh, French cocktails in leafy environs.
What? From its leafy botanicals to its chequered floors, Albie brings a slice of the French Riviera to Bankside. It’s also got one of the most extensive mocktail menus in London, featuring alcohol-free versions of most classics as well as their own devilishly good creations. We love the ‘Promenade Anglaise’ (sparkling Ginish, Aecorn Aromatic and berries), although the ‘Olive Grove Fizz’ (Aromatic Bax Botanics Verbena, lemongrass and bubbly olive leaf soda) is ideal for those who prefer their drinks a little more savoury.
Where? 40 Blackfriars Road, Bankside, SE1 8PB
Why? For old-school interiors and science inspired cocktails.
What? Did you know that the original mocktail masters were, in fact, pharmacists? The team at 45 Jermyn St. certainly do: their medically-inspired menus have got the alcohol-free cocktail down to a science. Each mocktail on the ‘Rickies’ menu is made of a homemade syrup with precisely measured acid drops for an extra layer of complexity, and they’ve all been given a number instead of a name for an added scientific twist. Try the ‘No. 5’ (strawberry and orange blossom) for something fruity or spice things up with a ‘No. 40’ (spiced porter reduction and CBD bitters) – both topped with soda from the bar’s vintage grey and gold marble soda fountain. Don’t forget to summon the caviar trolley for a snack alongside your drinks.
Where? 45 Jermyn St, St. James’s, SW1 6DN
By Georgie Young