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Why trashy cocktails are having a serious comeback

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 09/08/2018 Frankie McCoy

a person sitting at a table © Provided by Evening Standard Limited Summer is not for serious drinks.

It’s for neon Aperol spritzes and well-iced rosé and slushies; it’s also for wonderfully trashy cocktails. London’s tip-top bartenders are taking the silly, fun, sugary drinks of hazy Nineties nights past and making them sophisticated. We’re talking Piña Coladas and Cosmopolitans, Sex on the Beach and Porn Star Martinis.

See Salvatore Calabrese at the Donovan Bar. Calabrese is the godfather of the serious Martini, head honcho at the legendary Martini bar Dukes for decades. But he’s also the creator of the Naughty Corner, a riff on the Porn Star, aka the sickly-sweet, vanilla and passion fruit concoction, served with a shot of champagne on the side, that is truly a desecration of the icy gin and vermouth original.

Sake Bombs © Provided by Evening Standard Limited Sake Bombs Calabrese’s version is rather more sophisticated and complex than the Porn Star. He blends white rum, white cacao liqueur, Galliano, pineapple juice and fresh passion fruit: a heady double hit of sweetness — the fudginess of white chocolate, the sharper fruitiness of pineapple and passion fruit — which is tempered by the alcohol burn of rum and champagne.

More conversation-worthy is the garnish, which sees the rim dipped in cocoa butter and pink saffron syrup to add buttery complexity — and perfectly mimic lipstick. Rather than you leaving a lipstick stain on the glass, therefore, your Naughty Corner leaves you with coquettishly blushing lips. Ooh matron, indeed.

Watch: Keep It Cool With Frozen Watermelon Margaritas (provided by Delish)


It’s not just Calabrese; all the best places are knocking out trashy cocktails. Coupette, the recent recipient of the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards’ ‘Best New International Cocktail Bar’, serves a very snazzy champagne Piña Colada that blends heritage Bacardi, agricole, pineapple and coconut sorbet with Moët. Its fellow award winner Dandelyan knocks out a sustainable take on the height of Sex and the City-era sophistication, the Cosmopolitan: the Canon Cosmo (lemon vodka, pink sour mix, flamed orange and almond).

The Naughty Corner © Provided by Evening Standard Limited The Naughty Corner Over at the Bloomsbury Club Bar, Diplomático rum has a summer terrace serving gloriously old-school frozen Daiquiris (rum slushies, essentially) and a souped-up version of rum and Coke: charcoal-filtered rum mixed with cola, vanilla syrup and Prosecco. 

And if you really want to relive your hideous post-A levels holiday to Zante, head to Freak Scene: brilliant, fun, Japanese-inspired food that sits alongside a wonderfully dubious drinks menu of, yes, Porn Star Martinis and mango Daiquiris. Seriously — save the serious drinking for September.

Related: What your favourite cocktail says about you (provided by Elle Decor)


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