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The best old fashioneds in London

It's one of the most popular classic cocktails going, but check out how London bars put their very own twist on the old fashioned

By Laura Richards
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While it might now evoke images of ‘Mad Men’ types and Jon Hamm aficionados, the old fashioned is a stripped-back cocktail classic for purists. Wannabe advertising executives aside, it's a drink that drips in sophistication. 

In London, bars are willing to go one step further for this top tipple. Nowadays mixologists do away with the machismo by putting a unique spin on the simple blend of sugar, bitters and booze (typically whiskey, but occasionally brandy). So whether you like yours buttered, smoked or with a hint of chocolate, birch sap or even charcoal, London bars have got every avenue covered. Just try not to break out in your best Don Draper impression, okay? 

RECOMMENDED: Read our guide to the best cocktails in London

best old fashioneds in london, bull in a china shop, charcoal and chamomile old fashioned
© Yusuf Ozkizil

Chamomile and Charcoal Old Fashioned at Bull in a China Shop

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Shoreditch

£12

This jumping Shoreditch joint has a whole host of whiskeys racked up behind the bar, but chooses to showcase its Japanese produce in this modern and smoky old fashioned. A hefty, peaty kick from coconut charcoal is tempered by a lick of chamomile syrup, and best of all, both ingredients are actually meant to be good for you. So knock it back with a guilt-free conscience, even if this drink looks alarmingly black.

Conference Call at Discount Suit Company

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Spitalfields

£7.50

Three whiskies, walnut bitters and a smoked maple syrup go into the Conference Call, DSC’s potent take on things. They even light a match and peg it to the drink before rubbing it with orange zest to exaggerate that smokey, orangey taste we all know and love. If you’re not lucky enough to visit when the Conference Call is on the seasonal menu, don’t fret. The team are happy to whip up off-menu staples, so just order a classic old fashioned.

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Viceroy’s Old Fashioned at the Permit Room

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars King’s Cross

£9

Subtle and lightly spiced, this is an old fashioned to stir the senses fresh off the train at King’s Cross. Bourbon is mixed with bay leaf and green tea and the whole thing left to mature through the bottle-ageing process. The herbaceous, almost medicinal outcome adds to the charm of drinking at the Permit Room, which takes its name from imperial India’s Prohibtion bars where you needed a licence to drink on ‘medical grounds’. Any excuse, eh?

Double nut old fashioned at The Nickel Bar

Restaurants American Bank

£12

With its vaulted ceiling, gorgeous interior and feeling of historical reverence, we could easily imagine Don Draper drinking at The Nickel Bar in The Ned. Although, if we're being honest, we're not sure what the ‘Mad Men’ advertising executive would have made of this nutty twist on an old fashioned. Made with Wild Turkey whiskey, peanut butter, pecan, chocolate and aromatic bitters it's certainly different, but we're really into it. 

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Lucky in Kentucky at The Mulwray

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Chinatown

£12

This petite cocktail parlour is as sharply turned out as the character it takes its name from, Evelyn Mulwray, as played by Faye Dunaway, in the 1974 masterpiece ‘Chinatown’. It also serves up a fabulous silky-smooth take on the old fashioned, the Lucky in Kentucky, using Four Roses bourbon. It's served in exquisite glassware for delicate sipping. Fear not, however, as it still packs quite the punch. 

Blood-orange old fashioned at Flat Iron

Restaurants Steakhouse Caledonian Road

£7

While Flat Iron might best be known for mouth-watering steaks, their take on this classic cocktail is worthy of its own praise. Pour your drink from a mini hip flask and enjoy the sweet flavours of this old fashioned. It tastes a bit like a Terry's Chocolate Orange, which is perfect for those of you who want to take the edge off the whiskey drink without compromising on flavour. 

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