Winter Cocktail Menu @ Blue Boar Bar, St. James

Type of Bar: Hotel
Damage: £ – ££
Ideal for: Small Groups, Large Groups, Food


Winter is upon us! And the Blue Boar Bar at the Conrad St. James has released a menu of 4 winter cocktails to enjoy along with their Christmas Bites food menu.

The sprawling Blue Boar rings with Xmas music across a gorgeous wooden bar, deep blue surrounds and quirky musical-instruments-turned-lamps decor. It might seem crowded on a weekend, but there is more space and privacy than there is at first glance.

Winter Cocktails Blue Boar Bar Conrad

The limited edition Winter Cocktails take a turn for the sweet, but the Jingle Bell Rock is great for something just a bit sweet without needing a dentist.

A combo of Havana 7 Rum, apple liqueur, cinnamon syrup, splash of blackberry puree create a cold cocktail where the vanilla and honey of the rum and blackberries dominate the palate, with the cinnamon dancing gleefully in the background without taking over the drink. A spicy-sweet apple finish to a well-balanced drink where the flavours marry rather well. Probably the best on the Winter cocktail menu!

Winter Cocktails Blue Boar Bar Conrad

The Jingle Bell Rock

The Santa Baby brings together vodka, strawberry liqueur and a dash of cream to create what is essentially a spiked strawberry milkshake! Chilly, with a fun glitter rim, the sweet creamy cocktail is fairly sneaky in terms of alcohol, but is rather thick. Though a friend was downing these pretty quickly, I myself ran only about halfway through before realising it was dessert – this will determine who on the table has a sweet tooth!

Winter Cocktails Blue Boar Bar Conrad

The Santa Baby

A batch of truffle chips for something savoury and salty before moving on to the third cocktail: the Hard Candy Christmas – vodka, chocolate liqueur, Disaronno amaretto, double cream. Personally, this one doesn’t quite work. The first sip is a punch in the face with chocolate liqueur, thick, before ending with slightly overpowering amaretto. The brand of liqueurs has that faux-chocolate flavouring to it which I myself found to be bit a of a turn-off – but hey, there must be someone we all know who’d enjoy it! I feel when put up against the rest of the menu, it is lacking.

Finally, ending with a simple Warm Winter Cider (at a fab 4 pounds!), a hot, slightly spiced and citrus cider to warm the bones before braving the cold outside again.

Winter Cocktails Blue Boar Bar Conrad

The Hard Candy Christmas

Service at the Blue Boar is fantastic, always swift, polite, and you don’t really have to worry about being checked up on – making it a discreet getaway during the winter season for an xmassy cocktail – and plus points if you hide yourself away in the private room to cosy up these winter months.

Drinks: ***
Atmosphere: ****
Service: ****


Blue Boar Bar @ The Conrad St. James

22-28 Broadway, St. James
London SW1H 0BH




Think Ink Pines by Kraken Rum, Hoxton

Type of Bar: Christmas, Winter, Pop Up
Damage: £
Ideal for: Rum, Party, Live Music, Small Groups


The Holiday Season getting a bit colourful for you?

Because, let’s face it, #BlackIsTheNewBlack – you might wanna check out the new pop up Think Ink Pines by Kraken Rum at 186 Hackney Road.

Make the Yuletide Brvtal with *real* all black pine trees, mistletoe and holly, wreaths, and poinsettias will also be available along with a range of dangerously dark Kraken Christmas Cards and Kraken Rum Cocktails.

Yes, from 9th to 13th December, get ready for Krampus with dark Christmas foliage and cocktails courtesy of Kraken Rum!
Visitors will walk into a world of black firs, nestled amongst which will be the festive Kraken Black Spiced Rum Bar serving five specially created Christmas Rum cocktails including the Squid Bite, Black Espresso, The Old Kraken, Perfect Storm and Kraken ‘S’pore’.

Think Ink Pines Black Kraken Rum Hackney Christmas Cocktails

Keep in mind that all cocktails are at £5. All come with the simplicity of £5 cocktails as well:

The Black Espresso – Kraken Rum with sugar and espresso, garnished with white chocolate shavings is a simple rum twist on your run of the mill Espresso Martini that does the job as one – smoothly sweet espresso with the spice is topped with a bar of white chocolate to nibble throughout the drink.

The Kraken ‘S’pore’ – a shooter of rum and sugar syrup with a crushed cracker rim and fire-roasted marshmallow. It’s exactly what it sounds like – it doesn’t make the rum any less harsh on the throat, but marshmallows are always fun.

Think Ink Pines Black Kraken Rum Hackney Christmas Cocktails

However, even at 5 pounds, some cocktails don’t work out well enough: The Old Kraken I was initially excited for with it’s drier twist – Kraken, white sugar syrup, Yellow Chartreus and aromatic bitters make a drink that’s rather imbalanced and bitter beyond comfort. As for the Perfect Storm, Kraken and Ginger Beer make a university house party favourite, but it’s just that – a house party favourite.

Finally, something to fit the season: the Squid Bite gives us Kraken Rum in hot mulled cider. Spicy, warm – the drink is rather sweet, with powerful apple and cinnamon and clove. It does demand a long time to drink though, so if you manage to grab a table, I’d relax with this one.

Think Ink Pines Black Kraken Rum Hackney Christmas Cocktails

So hang up those black stockings with Kraken Black Pines at:
Small (£15), Medium (£20), Large (£35) and Kraken X-large (£50) sizes. Pick up from the shop or reserve via Twitter #thinkinkpines.

Think Ink Pines is open from:

Wednesday 9th December: 12:30pm – 10pm
Thursday 10th December: 12:30pm – 11pm
Friday 11th December: 12:30pm – midnight
Saturday 12th December: 10am – midnight
Sunday 13th December: 9am – 4pm


Drinks: **
Atmosphere: ***
Service: ***


Think Ink Pines

186 Hackney Road,
E2 7QL, London.

Brahms and Liszt, Homerton *XMAS EDITION*

Type of Bar: Local, Shop / Off License
Damage£ – ££
Ideal For: Date, Small Groups


No small secret that QuiQuiRiQui Mezcal ranks up in one of the Hoodooist’s favourites, and the good news is, the brains behind the QQRQ outfit, Melanie Symonds, is now running the Brahms & Liszt Off License and Tasting Room that revolutionises the off license and liquor store for the modern, discerning drinker.

What I love about this spot is first the incredible selection of normally difficult to find brands and spirits: your Poitins sit side by side with possibly the largest selection of tequila and mezcals in London. And there isn’t any need to beanxious trying something new: Brahms & Liszt‘s ‘try before you buy‘ policy means you always leave happy.

Brahms Liszt Cocktail London

But that’s not all! “If you’re up for a bit of educational boozing, you can also attend master classes with some of the drinks industries’ leading personalities in the shop.  Expect anything but the norm when you pop by to pick up a bottle: spirits that would otherwise be hard to come by are now easily accessible at Brahms & Liszt.

An interesting selection of handcrafted spirits have been carefully selected from small independent brands that represent something special and unique in their category.  This distinctive approach unlike nothing else in the whole of the UK gives customers the opportunity to uncover these outstanding spirits for themselves or for others. Should mixing cocktails at home be a little too much, you can enjoy delicious range of classic bottle aged cocktails that are made in house bought by 100ml, very much like a wine refill system made to be drunk over ice.”

Brahms Liszt Cocktail London

This Christmas, Brahms and Liszt unleashes a new batch of by the bottle cocktails that can be tasted at a masterclass – only this December!

Brahms Liszt Cocktail London

And outside the tasting session, the three cocktails can be bought by the brilliant bargain bottle: £28 for a 500ml or £15 for 250ml.

And what fabulous cocktails they are, the Christmas Old Fashioned, the Alaska, and Santa’s Little Helper have a little something for everyone.

Brahms Liszt Cocktail London

The Christmas Old Fashioned

East London Liquor Company Gold Rum, winter spiced Demerera spirit, and Bob’s Mandarin bitters make up the sweet and spicy Christmas Old Fashioned: the ELLC’s Gold Rum, imported from Guyana, imparts a beautiful toffee and warm vanilla, heated by the mulled spices in the drink, clove and nutmeg sizzle with the zesty mandarin bitters. Smooth, warming, making the perfect digestif on Christmas night.

Probably my favourite, though sweeter than my usual, it just felt too Christmassy to not love. Need a bottle of this.

Brahms Liszt Cocktail London

The Alaska

It’s always surprising to find a gin drink in the winter catalogue – a twist on a Savoy classic, the Alaska is the more aromatic of the three: Gin, Cocchi Americano, Yellow Chartreuse and orange bitters. Smooth and almost velvety, the cocktails is deceptively light. Citrus and juniper and tempered by the Yellow Chartreuse, concluding with an orange finish. Well rounded, with a dry edge. An excellent aperitif!

Brahms Liszt Cocktail London

Santa’s Little Helper

The Santa’s Little Helper brings in the big guns: Qui Qui Ri Qui Matalan Mezcal, Bold London Cherry Spirit, Kamm & Son’s Ginseng Spirit – powerfully smoky, the mezcal muscles in with tropical fruit and pepper, leashed by the sweeter cherry. The next explosion of smoke is a big one, finally ending on a long dry finish from the Kamm & Son’s ginseng.

Adore this cocktail, but it’s one you will have to take your time with. This is a bottle you buy if you wanna go all the way for a bit more raucous Christmas Eve!

Brahms Liszt Cocktail London

Brahms & Liszt is the kind of spot I’ve been waiting to see open in London for a while. It exhibits a powerful understanding of modern drinking culture in London, it’s educational edge, obscure collection, and money-saving try-before-you-buy opportunity makes it an ‘off license’ other liquor stores in the city could learn a thing or two from.

Not to mention their bottled cocktails are the bomb.

Blurring the line between bar and shop, Brahms & Liszt is probably marking a change in the winds of cocktail culture in the city. Major thumbs up from the Hoodooist!

Drinks: ****
Atmosphere: ****
Service: *****

Brahms and Liszt,

10 Chatsworth Rd, Homerton
London E5 0LP.

Yelp and Covent Garden’s First London Mulled Wine Festival!

Winter is coming!

We all know what that means – mulled wine! And mulled cider. And mulled mead. Anything you can mull, really – all at London’s first Mulled Wine Festival!

Yelp Covent Garden Mulled Wine Festival

The celebrated Christmas staple will have a whole festival devoted to it at Covent Garden’s East Piazza from the 12th-14th of November – and the best part? Entry is free! If you check in with your Yelp! app, which you can download here:



So for three days, from noon to 9PM, “there will be three days of mulled wine from some of the best spots for mulled wine in the city. Plus mulled cider! And mulled mead! And mulled ice cream, mulled pops, mulled candy, mulled jelly shots and, of course, Christmas pies! (And also, some seriously amazing other eats).

It starts on November 12, the same night as Covent Garden switches on its new Christmas lights.  Designed by celebrated fashion and film production designer, Michael Howells, the new scheme takes inspiration from the mythology of mistletoe and Covent Garden’s world-renowned reputation as a special place to meet friends, family and loved ones. The iconic, 22 feet tall silver reindeer will also be returning to the East Piazza, ensuring this year’s switch on moment will once again have a stunning backdrop.

Contemporary acapella group After Party will be entertaining the crowds with an exclusive set from 6pm, which features everything from Taylor Swift to Christmas classics. And, whatever the weather, you’re guaranteed a white Christmas in Covent Garden as it will snow on switch on night to add that extra touch of magic.”

Yelp Covent Garden Mulled Wine Festival

Besides all the excellent entertainment, prepare for a massive foodie feast by:

* Battersea Pie (…)

* Chez Antoinette (…)

* Gordon Ramsay’s Heddon Street Kitchen (…)

* Gosnell’s Mead (

* L’atypique Organic Wines (

* LIC Pops (

* MEATMarket (…)

* Morelli’s Gelato (…)

* Phizz (

* Smith and Sinclair (

* Thistly Cross Cider (

* popchips (

and more!

Plus, the whole event supports Connection at St-Martin-in-the-Field (connection-at-stmartins.…), a charity that helps support homeless people in multiple ways. So you’ll be drinking for a good cause!


Entrance is free if you RSVP at the link below and check in on your Yelp App!

See you guys there!

Yelp Covent Garden Mulled Wine Festival


Winter 2014 Mega-Post!

Here it is! The obligatory Winter MEGA POST!

It’s December, and we all need something to perk us up with the obscenely cold weather London’s been having. So the Hoodooist thought, hey, what the hell, let’s cover some of the best winter themes London has to offer in bars, winter pop-ups, cocktail recipes and gift ideas!


Bars with Festive Cocktails

For a pretty traditionally festive drink, try Thank F**k It’s Buttered by Loves Company (Click HERE for full review): A spiced hot buttered rum (butter-washed Zacapa 23) with lemon and cloves. Absolutely excellent. Tackle it on an empty stomach this, this is a heavy drink.

Got to recommend BUMP Caves (Click HERE for full review) – all done up in Christmas lights and a beautiful tree – for a Flip Out: Bourbon, Port, Amaro and Fino Sherry; slightly herbal, heavy and sweet, with a nice kick from the bourbon.

On the other hand, maybe something way less traditional? Agaveria El Nivel’s (Click HERE for full review) winter drink, the El Funibundo, let’s you choose your own tequila, with winter berries, pomegranate and hibiscus. Fruity and seasonal, with a twist.


Gaucho Broadgate's Winter Terrace

Gaucho Broadgate’s Winter Terrace


Winter Pop-Ups

Another option? Take advantage of the loads of winter terraces and chalet pop ups sprouting around London this season.

The Gaucho Broadgate Winter Terrace (Click HERE for full review) is one of my favourite winter pop ups this season with a spectacularly warm outdoor area, cosy with heat lamps, hot water bottles and blankets galore. Hot Smoked Apple; Belvedere Vodka, fresh pressed apple juice, a touch of Ardbeg 10 yr, and a cinnamon rim. Hot apple and cinnamon is always a good winter warmer, the vodka giving it the right alcohol content and that warmth of the whiskey is just right to not overpower.

The Lodge d’Argent chalet pop up at the Coq d’Argent in City takes pride Hennessy Cognac cocktails, or neat Hennessy with cigar pairings. Going all out with the chalet theme makes the Lodge a great spot to relax with a complex Romeo y Julieta De-Luxe to smoke, paired with Hennessy Paradis Cognac.

The tented Nordic wonderland from last year is back! WigWamBam at the Queen of Hoxton is a much more informal chill-out zone serving a variety of hot drinks, from mulled wines to hot toddies, eventually breaking out the massive BBQ in the middle of the tent for massive meals. Get here early as it opens, before the crowd fills out the entire space.

Finally, why not pop by the Floridita Rum Chalet pop up (Click HERE for full review) for a Ski Break: rich, dark hot chocolate, with Plantation 5yr and cinnamon. Warm, slightly spicy, slightly bitter, slightly sweet, all indulgent. A very short drink in a teacup – but that’s all you need, this is a very heavy drink.


Floridita's Ski Break

Floridita’s Ski Break


Cocktails at Home

But hey, it’s cold. Maybe you’d rather stay in and assault that liquor cabinet and knock something up for yourself. And let’s face it, mulling wine can be *such* a process. Cocktails this year, kids.

An easily prepared drink that the Hoodooist particularly enjoys is a Vermouth Sour and twist. You want the Antica Formula Carpano red vermouth for this – wonderfully festive with intense flavours of orange peel and marmalade, winter spices and some warming oaky woodiness. A long, dry finish of cherries, a tannic red wine, date-sugariness and bitter oranges makes it a great choice for aperitif before a big winter dinner.

Antica Formula Carpano Vermouth

Antica Formula Carpano Vermouth

The Hoodooist’s Winter Sour


50 mls Antica Formula Carpano Vermouth
20 mls Fresh Lemon Juice
20 mls Simple Syrup
Garnish: Twist of Orange peel

Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice.
Shake, and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.
Garnish with orange peel.


Who wants to add a little Parisian chic to their Winter? If so, check out the wonderful European Ambassador of Grand Marnier, Julien LaFond’s recipe for:

The French Artist

The French Artist

The French Artist

30ml GRAND MARNIER® Cordon Rouge
15ml VSOP Cognac
15ml French Dry Vermouth
20ml Freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
20ml Homemade Redcurrant & Vanilla Syrup (or Grenadine Syrup)
20ml Egg White
Garnish: Redcurrants coated with icing sugar

Pour all ingredients into a shaker
Dry shake (Shake without ice), to create the emulsion
Add some cubed ice and shake vigorously
Double strain into a coupette glass and add the garnish


But hey, maybe you want something surprising. The Hoodooist greatly enjoys a Scandinavian winter, and definitely a Scandinavian Christmas – and one can hardly go wrong with Tanqueray No. 10 anyway. Bring a bit of Sweden into your home with dill in Gareth Evans’ (WORLD CLASS™ UK Winner and bar manager of City Social, Click HERE for full review) Scandinavian Martini:

Dill or No Dill

Dill or No Dill


50ml Tanqueray No. TEN Gin
15ml Elderflower syrup
10ml Fresh lemon juice
30ml Cucumber water
2 Sprigs of dill
1 Pinch of smoked salt

Place all ingredients into a chilled shaker and shake.
Fine strain into a coupette.
Garnish with sprig of dill pegged to the glass


And finally, for something a little weirder by Matthew Armitage of the Craft Cocktail Co. @ Grotto Outre, Shoreditch.

The Mince Pie Martini

The Mince Pie Martini

The Mince Pie Martini

50ml minced meat mix infused vodka
1 teaspoon of apricot jam
1 teaspoon of Mirabelle plum jam
25ml Lemon Juice
15ml Sugar Syrup (1 part caster sugar: 1 part water)
Garnish: Lemon twist


Method for making Minced Meat Infused Vodka:

Place 100g minced meat mix in a sealed container with 1 bottle of vodka. Leave to infuse for a week. Strain through a sieve to remove the larger pieces and then through a coffee filter to remove the small pieces. Once it’s strained pour back into the vodka bottle. Ready when you need it.

Method for Mince Pie Martini:

Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add cubed ice and shake. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist.





You can’t make the drinks above with a decent cocktail set, can ya? And if you’re gonna make ‘em, might as well do it with a little pizazz.

The cocktail obsessive craves a well-crafted cocktail set, and I can’t think of one that beats the Alexander & James Japanese Cocktail Set Christmas Gift Pack. This cocktail set is the epitome of luxurious bar wear and is the ultimate gift for cocktail aficionados.

A&J Japanese Cocktail Set Christmas Gift Pack

A&J Japanese Cocktail Set Christmas Gift Pack

Inside this set:

1 x Usagi Heavyweight Cobbler Shaker
1 x Natural Wood Muddler
1 x Premium Julep Strainer
1 x Copper measure
1 x Teardrop Barspoon
1 x Seamless Paddle Mixing Glass

This little piece of heaven is available from Alexander & James priced at £180.00.



Grand Marnier Limited Edition

Grand Marnier Limited Edition

Grand Marnier’s Cognac-based orange deliciousness is a perfect winter liqueur that can be added to any hot chocolate for a bit of spice. And their limited edition Parisian ‘Marinière’ bottle celebrates the coming of Christmas with a striped Breton design worn by sailors and popularised by Coco Chanel. Modern and playful, the couture style label looks showcases the rich history of the brand through the family crest, while the blue, white and red striped ribbon that runs around the uniquely shaped bottle reinforces Grand Marnier’s home place – in the heart of France.

This annual treat is available from luxury retailer Harvey Nichols, London priced at £26.05 for a 70cl bottle.


Kindzmarauli Wine

Kindzmarauli Wine

And finally, if wine’s more your thing – skip the predictable Marsala for something more unique. The Hoodooist’s personal choice is the sweeter, beautifully dark, purple-red Kindzmarauli wine from Georgia. Made with Saperavi grapes; this soft, rounded and sticky (and lip-colouring!) wine is an excellent pair with cheeses and rich Christmassy cakes. Notes of damson jam, berries, spice and soft tannins.

Prices vary amongst wine stores, but can be purchased at Hedonism Wines for about £13.00 for a bottle.


WHEW. That was a long post. But winter comes with winter goodness that must be enjoyed!

So go forth and take advantage of the festive drinks at London’s bars and pop-ups, or make your own cocktails at home while you think of gifts for friends and family (or hell, yourself. It’s cold outside, you deserve it.)

Enjoy your Winter, London! And Happy AlcoHolidays!