If you want to predict London's next cocktail trend, just look over the pond and see what’s going on in New York. Our bars may be their equal, but the bartenders of the Meatpacking district, Chelsea, the Villages and increasingly Brooklyn have a huge influence on how your next drink will be mixed.
From the emergence of speakeasies to making use of discarded cereal milk, many of London’s fashions come from the good ole’ US of A. Just consider the hipster cocktail scene – think tattooed, moustachioed, dour perfectionists. This latest incarnation of the hipster was (re)born in Williamsburg, NY, not Shoreditch.
Fashions are by definition about copying so it matters little where they begin, yet in one important respect New York trumps London: it’s a true 24-hour city. The impressive Employees Only (order the Lincoln Says cocktail) was buzzing at 2am on a Monday night, and Le Bain, the rooftop bar at the Highline's Standard hotel, was going strong at 3am on a Sunday.
All is not perfect Stateside, though. Just try ordering a Martini. I ordered two at Le Bain. For the first, I was asked if I wanted it on the rocks with lime. I didn’t, but I got half a pint of cold gin without vermouth in a rock glass. It got me drunk enough to contemplate dancing, so I ordered another, which was served in a Martini glass filled to the very top. In hindsight I should have asked for a straw.
In London, if you don't want to head to a club, about the only places to drink in the wee small hours are the dingy bars of Soho or soulless casinos: both of which are gambles I’d rather not take. With the tube soon to run throughout the night and Uber and its many competitors driving down the cost of travel around the capital, it’s time for London to step up and become a true 24-hour city.