Finally, there’s a real buzz about decent and intriguing alcohol-free drinks, as sophisticated new concoctions emerge, and bartenders get serious about the art of sober mixology. We’ve selected five of St James’s best spots for virgin cocktails so you could even take a sober sprint and try one for every day of the week, clear head in the morning guaranteed.
No compromise, at Brumus
Step inside the Haymarket Hotel’s relaxed restaurant (or pull up a chair on their well-appointed terrace, if the weather is still obliging) and choose from a selection of artfully mixed non-alcoholic creations. We suggest the no-compromise flavours of a Thai Lemonade, where fresh coriander, the almond and rose-based syrup orgeat and Fever Tree’s punchy ginger beer create a drink that’s strong, while remaining at zero percent. It’s an ideal pre-theatre drink. The restaurant also excels at a range of a la carte vegan dishes, if it’s not just the alcohol that you’re abstaining from.
Fruity creations, at Imperial Treasure
This world-class Chinese restaurant has a sizeable list of suitably ornate non-alcoholic drinks to try. Opt for the Virgin Mandarine Mojito for an interesting fruity twist on the fresh mint classic, or perhaps go for the Hong Kong Blush, where raspberry, apple lime and pineapple are set off by agave for a deliciously sweet tipple. If you are pushing the boat out and staying for dinner too, make sure to place your order for the restaurant’s famous Peking Duck in advance, as it takes 24-hours for the kitchen to prepare it to crispy glazed perfection.
Aperitifs, teas and soda Beau Brummell
The area’s latest opening hits the ground running on the alcohol-free front, with all kinds of alternatives on offer. They’ve partnered with bittersweet zero percent aperitif Everleaf, for a signature drink served with a light Indian tonic in a wine glass – the perfect alternative to a traditional cocktail. The all-day gastropub is also big on house coolers, making their own syrups for refreshing concoctions including elderflower tonic and cucumber or rhubarb and ginger made with a hibiscus tonic. Do make sure to try their nitro cold brew coffee too, available on draught it pours velvety smooth and looks uncannily like you’re drinking a Guinness.
Potent flavours, at Avenue
The huge glittering centrepiece chandelier made from wine glasses at this modern brasserie makes it ideal for a glamorous and (almost) guilt-free drink. Eschew the vintage vino being decanted at the circular bar and look instead at some tempting alternatives. Their Seedlip ‘Martini’, blends two non-alcoholic creations with elderflower for a grown-up drink with a real kick. Alternatively, the Seedlip-based G&T brings fresh cucumber and rosemary into the equation for a complex set of refreshing flavours.
The soft hard stuff, at Quaglinos
This grand St James’s institution has a suitably well designed selection. The Jungle takes Seedlip 94 Aromatic and marries it with mint shrub, vanilla, lime and tonic for a glass you’ll scarcely believe doesn’t contain a drop of any of the hard stuff. Meanwhile the slightly sweeter Solero goes for Seedlip 42 Citrus with apple and passion fruit, with apricot jam and lavender for a drink with an intense bouquet and fruity zing. Stay for a show and you could get through a fair few, yet still happily be able to swerve waking with any hint of headache, come the morning.