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The Thirst: Christmas Cocktails at Ruby's and White Lyan

In this column, Ananda Pellerin and Neil Wissink uncover the secret pleasures of the gastronome

Cocktails at Ruby's
Cocktails at Ruby's Photography by Neil Wissink

The Hunger goes on the hunt for the best cocktails in London and brings you two seasonal cocktail recipes for some home mixing

Any bar serving a drink called Yiddish Bubbles has certainly got our attention. Made with gin, pineapple and lemon cordial, and celery soda, this bright and sunny cocktail immediately transports one to a Florida beach. Ryan Chetiyawardana, the man behind the White Lyan, has won awards a-plenty for his mixing skills, and recently launched his first bar, in east London. Housed in an old pub on Hoxton Street, the White Lyan make their own base alcohols (gin, rye, whisky, rum etc) and pre-mix the cocktails, bringing inventive flair to drinks with names like Moby Dick Sazerac. Made with rye, Peychaud’s, ambergris, and absinthe rice, this drink delivers a bit of a Victorian kick. None of the cocktails come with ice; the glasses are near-frozen to start, and as the concoctions warm up, the flavours change and develop. This uncompromising approach to mixing drinks is mirrored by the bar’s black interior and lack of ornamentation (aside from a wall that lights up). New approaches to old favourites such as the Beeswax Old Fashioned (scotch, sugar, bitters, beeswax, egg), sit alongside house cocktails like the Painted Presidente, made with rum, vermouths, pomegranate paint, and grass. The menu is bound to please anyone who likes a strong, intelligent tipple. See below for White Lyan’s Churchill Royale recipe.

Moby Dick Sazerac at the White Lyan
Moby Dick Sazerac at the White Lyan Photography by Neil Wissink

"Using plenty of seasonal kitchen ingredients, Ruby's drinks come in vintage glasses and milk bottles"

Further up the road, in Dalston, Ruby’s has been turning out some of the East End’s best cocktails for the last two years. Owner Tom Gibson and his team have built up a roster that is satisfying to the drinker and food lover alike. Using plenty of seasonal kitchen ingredients, drinks come in vintage glasses and milk bottles, matching the basement bar’s pleasantly eclectic interior. On the delicate side, the English Garden is a year-round favourite, with gin, apple liqueur, apple and rhubarb juice, and mint. While the chilli apple martini with vanilla-infused vodka, apple liqueur, lemon juice, and chilli bitters is spicy and refreshing at once. The Agapio, made with tequila, lime, sage, and celery, is a celebration of savoury flavours, and the Rose Fizz, with rose-infused gin, lychee and prosecco, is refined and sweet. For wintertime, warm cocktails are on menu, including Santa's Tipple, made with Calvados, chestnut syrup, maple syrup bitters, and lemon. Just announced is that Gibson has taken over the Cat and Mutton pub on Broadway Market, and will be re-launching with a full refurbishment and new menu in the spring. No doubt there will also be plenty of cocktails to enjoy. To see in 2014, Ruby’s is hosting a New Year’s Eve HOLLYWOODLAND-themed party at MC Motors, a beautiful warehouse space upstairs from the bar. See below for Ruby’s Grand Spiced Mimosa recipe.

English Garden at Ruby's
English Garden at Ruby's Photography by Neil Wissink

From our two barmen, seasonal cocktails you can make at home over the holidays.

Churchill Royale
From Ryan Chetiyawardana at White Lyan

Build in a flute and top with English Sparkling wine.

25ml London Dry Gin

15ml Rhubarb Cordial

50ml hot water

50ml Nyetimber sparkling wine

Grand Spiced Mimosa
From Tom Gibson at Ruby’s

25ml grand mariner

10ml cinnamon Syrup

20 ml orange juice

Top up with prossecco

White Lyan is at 153 – 155 Hoxton Street, N1 6PJ. Ruby’s is at 76 Stoke Newington Road, N16 7XB.

Text by Ananda Pellarin

Ananda Pellerin is a London-based writer and editor, and Neil Wissink is a visual  artist also based in London. Read more from The Hunger here, and contact The Hunger here.

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