If there’s one thing we didn’t know we’d miss until it was gone, it’s an impromptu post-work cocktail. There’s nothing like easing yourself into a bar stool on a Friday evening, negroni in hand, to really make it clear that the weekend has started.
And, while many of us tried to stop the days from blurring into one during lockdown by treating ourselves to fine dining deliveries or takeaway afternoon teas, the humble cocktail hour went somewhat unnoticed. After all, how hard can it be to shake up a great gin martini at home? Very – if our attempts at DIY mixology were anything to go by. Thankfully many of London’s top bars – along with a host of dedicated companies – responded with delivery services sending their best cocktails right to your door. So successful were these services that many have pledged to keep them going even now they've reopened (which is excellent news for guests at your next dinner party or gathering). So, whether you’re a fan of a Bloody Mary with breakfast or prefer an Old Fashioned before dinner, here’s our guide to London’s best cocktail delivery services.
NIO Cocktails' – Needs Ice Only, geddit? – head mixologist Patrick Pistolesi, founder of Rome’s Drink Kong cocktail bar, named one of the World’s Best 50 Bars, has created a menu of classic and signature cocktails. Order three, six or nine cocktails at a time, which arrive in a stylish box that’s been designed to fit through your letterbox. All cocktails measure 100ml, and contain a double measure (50ml) of your chosen spirit. Cocktail sachets can be stored in your drinks cabinet – there’s no need to keep them in the fridge – and will stay good for more than a year. When it’s time, shake the sleeve, tear off a corner and pour over ice. Simple.
Alongside its core range, NIO also regularly creates seasonal and limited edition cocktail boxes. Right now the top pick is the Postcards from Japan box, created in celebration of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Sip on a Hokkaido Glory (Japanese clarified Bloody Mary) or Okinawa Pure Beauty (Japanese citrus daiquiri) and expand your palate while cheering on Team GB.
No. Fifty Cheyne
Chelsea institution No. Fifty Cheyne may be best known for its Sunday lunches and classic British grill dishes, but, while you’re adding those to your Deliveroo cart, why not also avail yourself of its collection of pre-mixed cocktails? Created in collaboration with handmade cocktail company Bottle, No. Fifty Cheyne specialises in gin martinis (there are four gin cocktails plus five gin infusions available) but the range also extends to a range of classic serves, including margaritas, espresso martinis, Old Fashioneds and Cosmopolitans.
When the coronavirus pandemic forced Haggerston’s Three Sheets and Top Cuvée in Highbury to close, the team behind the two venues decided to launch a ‘one-shop delivery service for modern life’. As well as a range of wines, delicatessens, T-shirts, magazines and ready meals, Shop Cuvée has curated a collection of bottled cocktails from some of the world’s leading bartenders.
Lars Williams and Mark Emil Hermansen, previously of Copenhagen’s Noma (named by Restaurant magazine as the Best Restaurant in the World, four times over), have contributed the neon-pink Sour Cherry cocktail. Elsewhere, Alex Kratena, previously head bartender at Artesian at the Langham, has teamed up with Norwegian mixologist Monica Berg on a range of cocktails, which includes negronis, martinis and margaritas.
The Drinks Drop
Missing a drink from your favourite boozer? Launched in September last year, The Drinks Drop partners with several bars in London and Manchester to create delivery-friendly versions of their signature cocktails. From Artesian’s Tanqueray Gimlet to Swift Shoreditch’s Getaway Driver, each cocktail is packaged in recyclable pouches and delivered in record time — there’s nationwide next-day delivery, and same-day delivery for select postcodes in east and west London. Can’t find a drink you like? Sign up for the bespoke service and a Drinks Drop mixologist will whip up a cocktail just for you.
Designed to look like an abandoned train station, Cahoots in Soho's Kingly Court is a speakeasy-inspired bar paying homage to the post-war revelry of the late-1940s. In keeping with the theme, it's delivering emergency cocktail rations direct to your door. Offering house favourites such as Scoundrels’ Boulevardier ('a negroni but warmer, heavier and more herbaceous') and Scoundrels’ Old Fashioned, the kits come with a double serving of your chosen drink, dried garnish, a QR code link to an instructional video, a Tunnock’s caramel wafer bar and a stick-on moustache 'for disguising oneself when evading the authorities'. There are also cocktails making kits for two designed for a date night with a difference and 0% ABV cocktails for non-drinkers.
Inspired by Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, the immersive Mr Fogg’s bars in Covent Garden, Mayfair, Fitzrovia and Liverpool Street riff on the travels of lead character Phileas J Fogg. While travelling, and visiting bars, are off the menu for now, we can live vicariously through Mr Fogg’s airmail cocktails. Each double-serving is delivered with dried garnish and a stash of Mr Fogg’s favourite strawberry bon-bons. Choose from classics such as Mrs Fogg’s Cherry Pie, a twist on mulled wine, and the Hacidena Agenda, a citrusy, smoky version of the classic Paloma.
The Sun Tavern
Bethnal Green’s popular Sun Tavern was quick to pivot when the first lockdown hit, with parent company The Umbrella Project making sure it was one of the first to deliver its Quarantini Kits nationwide. The range has now expanded to include no fewer than 16 different cocktail options, including negronis, whisky highballs, palomas, spritzes and more. If you’d rather leave your drink in the hands of the experts, opt for a pre-mixed four-serve bottle, which will last up to a year in the fridge. Fancy yourself as a bit of a mixologist? A range of DIY options are available, complete with all the ingredients (and glasses) you need to perfect your serve.
Riding House Cafe
The Riding House Cafe is beloved for its all-day dining and drinking options, which begged for long lunches that stretched into even longer dinners. Those missing post-work drinks at the Fitzrovia spot can now have three of its signature serves delivered to their homes. Each cocktail kit comes with all the necessary ingredients to create six servings, with the Five Spice Negroni (spice-infused Antica Formula, gin, Campari and orange) and Taittinger on Thyme (Taittinger champagne, thyme-infused Lillet Blanc, coconut and lemon syrup, thyme sprigs) on offer.