When visiting London you’re bound to want to seek out the very best British cuisine but there’s something else that you shouldn’t miss out on: London’s best booze. Whether you’re looking for traditional, well-known British beverages or modern interpretations of classic British tipples there are a few drinks that you just have to try if you’re visiting the U.K.. Here’s a rundown of the must-try drinks in London, and a few tips on where to enjoy them.
Say the words “apple cider” to an American and they’ll probably think you’re referring to a warm, non-alcoholic drink made with apple juice and spices like cinnamon and cloves. Outside the United States, however and especially in the U.K., cider usually refers to fermented apple juice which is an alcoholic beverage. On our East End Food Tour we’ll take you to an authentic English boozer where you can try a glass of the finest apple nectar the British isles have to offer! There are a number of different types of British cider or “hard cider” as Americans would call it, and you can taste some “real cider” on the tour. What do we mean by “real cider”? Real cider is cider that contains at least 90% fresh apple juice with no added flavourings, colourings or concentrates. You can enjoy some delicious Cornish cider at The Pride of Spitalfields, a typical East End pub located on a quiet cobblestone street just off Brick Lane. It has floral carpets, black and white photos of the East End, and a piano if you want to get the party started with a sing-along. And if you’re lucky, you might get to meet Lenny the pub cat who’s more than happy to pose for photos – he has his own website, fan club, a fascinating blog, and his own Facebook and Twitter account, so he’s more than used to being the center of attention.
Address: The Pride of Spitalfields, 3 Heneage Street, London E1 5LJ
Gin & Tonic
Although it was invented by the Dutch in 1689, the Brits had a love affair with gin from the start and by 1730 around 10 million gallons of gin were being distilled in London each year and sold from 7,000 shops. It’s estimated that the average Londoner drank a staggering 14 gallons of the stuff a year! Winston Churchill once declared, “The gin and tonic has saved more Englishmen’s lives, and minds, than all the doctors in the Empire.” This is because the Gin and Tonic was actually used as an antimalarial for the British troops serving in India because quinine, which is found in tonic water, could be used to prevent and treat the disease. And since troops were already given a gin ration and the tonic tasted pretty bitter they added some sugar, lime and gin to the tonic and hey presto, the G&T was born! These days tonic is usually sweetened and contains much less quinine because it’s no longer used as an antimalarial, so it’s a lot less bitter.
The London Gin Club stocks over 350 of the best premium and super premium gins available including micro-distilleries and small batch producers from around the world and claims to serve one of the best Gin & Tonics in London – and we’re certainly not disagreeing! They pride themselves on their G&T, served in a copa glass over cracked ice with a garnish individually matched to your gin of choice. On our Twilight Soho Food and Cocktail Tour their resident Gin Mixologist will guide you on a sensory adventure as you build your own gin and tonic, and taste how it changes at each step. To balance out all that alcohol, you’ll also enjoy one of their 5 different gin-infused pies! The London Gin Club offers 9 different gin tasting menus that you can be shared between friends or
Address: The London Gin Club, 22 Great Chapel Street, London W1F 8FR
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Taste the best of Brick Lane!
Join us on our Brick Lane – Flavours of India & Beyond food tour
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When it comes to drinks, it doesn’t get more quintessentially British than tea. The United Kingdom has been one of the world’s greatest tea consumers since the eighteenth century, and Brits drink a staggering 165 million cups every day, that’s 60.2 billion per year! Strong tea served in a mug with milk and sugar is known as builder’s tea, but it’s not uncommon to drink it black or with lemon, either with or without sugar. It is, however, uncommon to drink tea the way they serve it at a certain Tea House tucked away in Chinatown in Soho.
Behind an emerald-green door and up 4 flights of stairs, you’ll find our very own Soho secret: Opium – whose incredible décor really feels like a hidden opium den. Opium specializes in a special selection of Chinese teas and bespoke tea-inspired cocktails. Its cocktails, spirits and teas have been carefully selected for their quality and balance, and its expert bartenders provide regular cocktail masterclasses for groups of 4 to 16 people which will take you on a journey through the history of cocktails from the early 18th century to present day. Try a bespoke, tea-infused cocktail served from exquisite Chinese tea pots, along with some gorgeously silky dim sum filled with everything from crab and samphire to Cantonese BBQ, on our Twilight Soho Food and Cocktail Tour!
Address: Opium, 15-16 Gerrard Street, London W1D 6JE
You of course can’t visit London without having a proper pint of real ale! But what exactly is real ale? Technically it’s a beer which is brewed from traditional ingredients, is unfiltered, unpasteurised and finishes maturing in the cellar of the pub rather than at the brewery and is served with only natural carbonation. The Brits have been brewing beer for hundreds of years and every conceivable style from India Pale Ale to bitter has been brewed in London. These days the rise of microbreweries and the craft beer revolution that has come along with it is forcing traditional brewers to change decades of tradition as they compete for space at the bar.
On the London Old Docks – Historic Pubs, Food & Beer Tour you can enjoy some of the U.K.’s best brews from traditional ales, craft ales and ciders only found on this side of the Atlantic. You’ll visit the oldest pub on the River Thames, The Mayflower – its name comes from the fact that the pub sits in front of the original mooring spot of The Mayflower ship that transported the Pilgrims to the New World in 1620. On the London Old Docks – Historic Pubs, Food & Beer Tour you’ll enjoy a half pint of The Mayflower pub’s very own Scurvy Ale along with a classic British dish: bangers ‘n’ mash! It’s hard to find a pub that’s more character-packed than this gem which has barely changed since it was built in 1550. On entering you’re met with oak beams, wooden pews, an open fire, a range of seafaring memorabilia, and to top it off there’s a wooden deck at the back with one of London’s best view of the Thames.
Address: The Mayflower, 117 Rotherhithe Street , London SE16 4NF
Let Us Take You on Tour of London’s Historic Pubs
There’s no arguing with this atmospheric tavern’s charms. Not only is The Mayflower one of London’s best pubs, it’s packed with a unique history which you can learn about as you tuck into some of the finest British cuisine in London on the London Old Docks – Historic Pubs, Food & Beer Tour! As well as visiting the Mayflower you’ll explore the old stomping grounds of smugglers, pirates, and some of the world’s most famous writers and artists, as you eat and drink your way along the River Thames!