«Superfood cocktails» — it sounds like a contradiction in terms, like «healthy fry-up» or «nutritious candyfloss». But given London’s obsession with early-morning Psycle classes and raw-pressed green juice, it was only a matter of time before our national pastime was also given a clean-living makeover. And so The Landmark London’s Mirror Bar has launched a list of «healthy» cocktails, all made with non-alcoholic spirit Seedlip.
Launched in 2015, Seedlip is the brainchild of Ben Branson, who wanted a sophisticated alternative to soft drinks, to “solve the dilemma of what to drink when you’re not drinking”. Made in a similar way to gin by distilling botanical ingredients including bark, spices and citrus peel in a copper pot, it’s herbal-smelling and clear, like gin. Given its appearance and branding, you’d expect to grimace slightly after a neat shot, but the taste is aromatic, slightly peppery and surprisingly pleasant.
The Landmark London
An immediate hit, Seedlip cocktails appear on lists across London: from Dandelyan and Chiltern Firehouse to Claridge’s and The Ritz. The Landmark London’s dedicated menu goes one step further, pairing the calorie-free, sugar-free spirit with a range of ‘superfoods’ such as cactus water and rooibos tea for the ultimate in clean drinking.
The best-seller is the No Sin and Tonic – you guessed it, a simple Seedlip and tonic. More experimental items include the Super Healthy Detox: Seedlip spice, detox puree, maple water, lime and soda. Served in a flask, it was overwhelmingly ‘clean’ tasting – a little like an organic kitchen cleaner. An acquired taste for sure.
Mirror Bar cocktail CREDIT: SIMON JOHN OWEN
The Pink Garden fared better: the colour of red wine and garnished with orange peel, the botanic notes of Seedlip are nicely rounded off by fruits-of-the-forest juiciness and a touch of cinnamon. Served in a martini glass, it’s more akin to a traditional cocktail, without the subsequent word-slurring effects; the only clue as to its superfood status was the thick maca powder sediment left over at the bottom of the glass.
Tucked away inside The Landmark London, The Mirror Bar is as intimate and cosy as the hotel’s Winter Garden restaurant is grand and lofty. A jewel box of a bar with period details, an opulent fireplace and mirrors lining the walls, it’s an ideal spot for pre-dinner drinks and a lively place to return to when the atrium clears out and the waiting staff begin setting up for breakfast. The bar’s grey velvet armchairs, dim lighting and soundtrack of laid-back R&B create a sophisticated, sexy atmosphere which was sadly lost on the stonily silent couple next to us.
The Mirror Bar
In the interests of thorough research, we tried some of the bar’s traditional, booze-full cocktails too, from a 40-strong list comprising aperitifs, champagne cocktails, martinis, classics and Landmark signatures. The latter were devised to each celebrate a historical fact about the 118-year-old hotel. I chose the Sir Edward Watkin’s Dream (Jack Daniels, amaretto, Chuncho bitters, citrus and egg white), named after the man who had grand plans for the Marylebone railway hotel, because it sounded a little like an Amaretto Sour. It turned out far stronger than expected, without the sweetly tart edge.
A Mojito Champagne, the bar’s favourite recommendation, was better received, proving that while a little experimentation – with booze-free cocktails, for example – can be a good thing, other times it pays to stick with what you know.