Sip away your sorrows with your business partner / housemate / bubble (delete as appropriate) with some literary-themed cocktails. Then when the doors are shut and you’re back to looking at the same four walls of your home, you can relive the moment of freedom by reading a book from the authors they inspired.
Dukes Bar with Ian Fleming
If this year hasn’t been bad enough, we also lost Sean Connery last week, a man who made the Bond’s cocktail ordering infamous with his recognisable Scottish slur. Well, there’s still time to settle in a quiet corner of Dukes London in St James’s with a Fleming’s Classic Vesper martini.
Follow in the footsteps of the Bond creator Ian Fleming with a No. 3 London Dry Gin, Lillet Blanc and Angostura bitters mixed with Polish Potocki vodka. The latter ingredient is a nod to the Polish-born Christine Granville and wartime spy who reportedly had an affair with Fleming and became the basis for the character Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale. Just two martinis later and you’ll be quoting “shaken not shtirred”, whether you’re trying to impersonate Connery’s Scottish accent or not.
Where: Dukes London, 35 St James’s Place, SW1A 1NY
The Donovan Bar with Rudyard Kipling
Return to 1892 when Rudyard Kipling was writing his children’s classic The Jungle Book. The care-free, prickly-pear eating Baloo the bear is our inspiration during this second lockdown. “Forget about your worries and your strife” is certainly a mantra we should be living by, and no better place to do this than at The Donovan Bar in Brown’s Hotel where Kipling started penning the novel.
Sip the king of whisky cocktails, a classic Old Fashioned, made from McBrayer Kentucky bourbon 1913, a dash of Angostura bitters and soda, and a healthy lump of white sugar.
Where: Brown’s Hotel, 33 Albemarle Street, Mayfair, W1S 4BP
Adam Handling Chelsea Bar & Terrace at Belmond Cadogan Hotel with Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde lived a tumultuous life of secrets, sharp humour and indulgence, and most of it seemed to take place at the Belmond Cadogan Hotel where he was a frequent guest. It was here that he was arrested in a hotel room (118 to be precise) for “gross indecency” but prior to that it was where he enjoyed his favourite tipples and taking inspiration for various plays and books, including The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Take note from Wilde that “to live is the rarest thing in the world”. So make the most of these last few days of socialising with a Wilde Strawberry cocktail put together by the British chef Adam Handling with Shortbread Bombay Sapphire and Kamm & Sons Aperitif. Then, when you’re done, live vicariously through Dorian when you get back home.
Where: Belmond Cadogan Hotel, 75 Sloane Street, Chelsea, SW1X 9SG
Manetta’s Bar with Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie’s book At Bertram’s Hotel is a story of intrigue and mystery that follows her shrewd detective Miss Marple on a two-week holiday in London. Apparently, Christie used Flemings Mayfair as the creative backdrop for a quintessential London hotel that was “dignified, unostentatious, and quietly expensive” – just like its drinks menu. Recline in a leather chair and quaff an Atypical Christie cocktail of Remy Martin VSOP cognac with a vibrant squeeze of lemon juice and a garnish of basil.
Where: Flemings Mayfair, 7-12 Half Moon Street, Mayfair, W1J 7BH
Scarfes Bar with Gerald Scarfe
For the ultimate escapism, disappear to Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood inspired by the famous cartoonist Gerald Scarfe whose illustrations have accompanied many high-brow articles and books. Step back in time in an interior styled like a gentleman’s bar with plush sofas, a roaring fire and towering bookcases of more than 1,000 antique tomes.
The cocktail menu here is themed by personality, from the “fear of being unloved” to the “perfectionist”. If your current trait is “dehydrated from too much hand sanitiser and tired of Netflix” and can’t be found on the menu, then go for pot luck and ask the server to choose one to suit you.
Where: Rosewood London, 252 High Holborn, Holborn, WC1V 7EN
Dalloway Terrace with Virginia Woolf
Follow Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway to the aptly named Dalloway Terrace at The Bloomsbury. The romantic courtyard is decorated with autumnal leaves and gives plenty of space to take in an afternoon of fresh air and the sweet orange blossom of a Dalloway Spritz. The whisky-based drink is infused with apricot, honey and amaretto — a fruity refreshment that will add a spring to your step. “Moments like this are buds on the tree of life” writes Woolf, and she couldn’t be more accurate.
Where: The Bloomsbury Hotel, 16-22 Great Russell St, Fitzrovia, WC1B 3NN