Knightsbridge’s current seasonal cocktail menu
Cocktail drinkers tend to split themselves into three camps.
The first belongs to those who live by the mantra of W.W.D.D.D. (What Would Don Draper Do) and have trained themselves to appreciate (and talk extensively about) drinks like Old Fashioneds, which are classy, sophisticated and taste like cough syrup and a mace to the face.
The second camp consists of those who dislike the taste of alcohol but enjoy its effects – in these cases, the bells and whistles of a cocktail serve as the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down.
The third and, I think, most populous camp – among students, at least – is made up of those who like alcohol but aren’t experts; appreciate a classy evening out but live on a budget; and enjoy the occasional cocktail because it’s novel, feels a bit luxurious and tastes delicious, or at least interesting.
A decent cocktail menu should cater to all three camps without any sense of snobbery (after all, cocktail preferences say nothing about the drinker beyond the arrangement of their taste buds), and Knightsbridge’s Spring selection puts up a solid effort to this end.
As with any menu, some drinks are better than others, but this is as much a question of personal choice as it is a question of quality.
If you’re a Camp One drinker, Josh Nedeljkovic’s award-winning cocktail, Alexandra, is a must-try.
An “homage to gap year flings”, according to its creator, the honey vodka and Hennessy offer heady layers of flavour – the Aperol is particularly strong – and the citrus aroma from the orange peel rubbed against the lip of the glass is a nice touch. Altogether it is both sweet and a touch over-strong; to the untrained palate it tastes like the juice wrung from a decomposing Christmas pudding.
Given its award-winning status, however, this is clearly not a view shared by alcohol aficionados, and Nedeljkovic’s creation is sure to have lips smacking and tongues wagging in Camp One.
On the other end of the spectrum, Camp Two drinkers should go for the gin and elderflower liqueur concoction that is Noah’s True Love. Summery and light, it leaves an aftertaste as sweet and innocent as a sugared orange; its alcoholic content is huddled out of sight like the Greeks in the Trojan horse.
But the menu doesn’t consist entirely of these extremes, and Camp Three drinkers should look no further than By Royal Appointment, which is sure to be universal crowd-pleaser.
Tanqueray gin and grapefruit juice make the initial taste quite sweet, but a combination of lemon, Ardberg scotch and Campari give it a smoky, tart and slightly bitter finish that makes it a truly delicious and interesting blend of flavours.
On average, you’ll be handing over around $20 for your chosen poison ($10 on Thursdays), but there are a number of very decent wines on offer for those who prefer to keep it simple.
Perhaps the best way to decide which camp you belong to, and which cocktail would bring you most joy, is to ask the bartenders. They’re chatty, smart and seem to genuinely enjoy helping you find a drink you’ll love.
Besides, watching them fuss over your drinks with the finesse and focus of a bomb squad is a large part of the fun.