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Top 10 drinks trolleys in London

Maybe it’s because we’re getting lazier, or perhaps it stems from a yearning to recreate the glamour of the golden age of cocktails, whatever the reason, the drinks trolley is having something of a moment in London.

While booze on wheels is nothing new, in the last few months a number of bespoke drinks trolleys have sprung up at chic venues around the capital, turning the quirky practice into a full-on trend.

For the discerning drinker, the benefits of the drinks trolley are numerous. Not only can you enjoy the luxury of the bar coming to you, rather than having to battle a five deep throng of sweaty socialites to be served, drinks trolleys also cater to finicky drinkers that like their cocktails just so.

Whether you prefer your Martinis shaken, stirred, dry or dirty, read on for our round up of the best booze carts in the capital.

Italian drinks trolley at BYOC Soho

Aiming to recreate the thrill of gin-soaked nights during Prohibition with none of the danger of being busted by the boys in blue, the star of the show at BYOC (meaning ‘bring your own cocktail’) is a vintage Italian drinks trolley kitted up with an arsenal of fruit and vegetable juices, syrups, herbs, spices, bitters, salts and homemade cordials.

With sites in Camden, Brighton and East London, the latest addition to the speakeasy stable is set across two floors in Soho. Customers are asked to supply their own base spirit and £25 in exchange for as many bespoke cocktails as they can cram into their two-hour slot. Drinks are served from the tiny trolley, which trundles its way round the venue until the small hours.

Bloody Mary trolley at 45 Park Lane

Tobasco or Lea & Perrins? White pepper or celery salt? Making the perfect Bloody Mary is a logistical nightmare. Keen to smoothen the process is 45 Park Lane, which has just launched a superbly stocked Bloody Mary trolley allowing guests to tailor make their own serve.

To celebrate the trolley’s arrival, the bar team have created four new twists on the classic cocktail including a Bloody Troot made with beetroot juice, a Bloody Carrot made with carrot juice, and a Cross Eyed Mary made with jalapeño syrup. Bespoke Bloody Marys from the trolley cost £14 a pop and pair perfectly with a hearty full English breakfast or Eggs Benedict brunch.

Negroni tray at the Bulgari hotel

Rumoured to have first been mixed in Florence in 1919, the Negroni has risen to prominence in London over the last decade in tandem with the popularity of celebrating the apértivo hour. To honour the classic cocktail, the Bulgari hotel in Knightsbridge recently launched a custom-built, mahogany Negroni tray offering a tableside drinks service.

To celebrate the service, the hotel has created a signature sip – the Bulgari Negroni – featuring two homemade vermouths; one light and one more heavily spiced served with blood orange peel.

Among the other twists on the classic on offer are a French Negroni featuring Hennessy Cognac, Chartreuse VEP, Byrh, Dolin and anise bitter, and the Negroni in Gold, made with Plymouth, Kamm & Sons and Cocchi Vermouth di Torino served with an ice cube coated in 24ct gold for a truly decadent sip.

Old Fashioned trolley at One Aldwych

For those keen to channel their inner Don Draper, good news – the Old Fashioned cocktail trolley has swung into town at One Aldwych in Covent Garden. Having taken up residence in its Lobby Bar, the hand-made lacquer wooden trolley with silver detailing will be painstakingly preparing the Bourbon-based drink to customers’ preferences, allowing you to enjoy it sweet, classic or dry. You can switch up the Woodford Reserve for Bacardi 8 aged rum or Patrón Silver Tequila for a modern take on the American classic.

Each of the Old Fashioned versions is made with bespoke house-made syrups and aromatic bitters – the Bourbon version features a macerated morello cherry & spice syrup, and Angostura bitters; the Tequila twist includes kaffir lime leaf and mixed botanicals syrup with vanilla bitters, while the rum offering is laced with citrus peel syrup and yuzu fruit bitters. For the final flourish, bar manager Pedro Paulo adds a giant hand-cut ice cube and a cherry, orange or lime garnish depending on your base spirit.

Martini trolley at The Connaught

The king of cool, liquid alchemist Ago Perrone, head bartender at The Connaught Bar at the famous London hotel, can be found most nights behind his gleaming black and chrome Martini trolley serving bespoke sips for his well-healed clientele. Having become renowned for its Martinis, the hotel decided to take things a step further and add a dash of theatre to their serves.

Working in collaboration with premium gin Tanqueray No. 10, Connaught Martinis are stirred, never shaken, and reflect the gin’s citrus botanicals of lime, orange and white grapefruit. Staying true to his roots, Perrone uses Gancia Dry vermouth from Italy. Order from the Art Deco trolley and Perrone will craft the perfect Martini to suit your mood, with ginger, liquorice, coriander seed, vanilla, cardamom and lavender infusions at his fingertips. His Martinis are served in chilled glasses laced in vermouth, while the gin is theatrically poured from a height.

Negroni trolley at Cartizze

Pipping the Bulgari to the post on the Negroni trolley front is Bellini bar Cartizze in Mayfair, which launched a customised Negroni service in 2015, pouring riffs on the classic cocktail from an antique Empire-style drinks trolley. Dating back to the early 20th century, the vintage brass trolley is resplendent in rosewood and glass and festooned with cut-crystal glasses, sleek silver cocktail shakers and a selection of spirits and garnishes.

Among the bespoke Negronis on offer is a vintage variant, priced at £50, made with 1960s Carpano Vermouth, Antica Formula and Martini Rosso. Also on offer is the Cartizze Negroni, blending Portobello Gin, Antica Formula, Campari, Aperol and Martini Rosso; and the Graponi Negroni, featuring Cointreau, Antica Formula, Campari, sugar syrup and clarified grapefruit juice, priced at £14.

Champagne trolley at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester

One of only four 3 Michelin star restaurants in the UK, a visit to Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester is the kind of rare treat that demands Champagne. The prospect is all the harder to resist when you see a selection of delicious, ice-cold bottles being wheeled around the dining room in a trolley. “As soon as guests arrive, we propose an apéritif from the Champagne trolley.

“It’s very hard to say no if it’s in front of their eyes,” reveals head sommelier Christopher Bothwell, who keeps the offering fresh by switching it up every few weeks. Currently on pour from the trolley is Selection Alain Ducasse – the restaurant’s non-vintage blend made in collaboration with Lanson; Bollinger La Grande Année 2004; Lanson Noble Cuvée 2000; Henriot Rosé NV and Dom Pérignon 2004 at £64 a pop for diners who really want to push the proverbial boat out.

Martini trolley at Dukes

“I like to have a Martini, two at the very most. After three I’m under the table, after four I’m under my host,” feisty American writer Dorothy Parker once said of her zealous drinking habits. The Martinis poured by legendary Italian bartender Alessandro Palazzi at Dukes hotel in St James’s are so strong that guests are strictly limited to two per person to stop them falling off their bar stools.

Bond author Ian Fleming was a regular at Dukes. Legend has it he coined his double agent’s famous ‘shaken, not stirred’ line during a particularly fruitful drinking session at the bar. Dressed in an immaculate white blazer, Palazzi crafts his Martinis from a humble wooden drinks trolley, which he wheels to guests’ tables throughout the evening.

One of his golden rules is that a Martini must be served cold – the colder the better (Palazzi keeps his spirits in a freezer), but ice should be avoided. Martinis should also be, contrary to Bond, stirred, not shaken. Another tip is to stick to gin, as the botanicals give the Martini more flavour.

His ‘classic’ Martini is made with a few drops of dry vermouth to coat the rim of the glass, a generous measure of gin (preferably Beefeater or Plymouth), and a strip of Amalfi lemon peel, which he squeezes over the cocktail to extract the lemon oil for a zesty lift.

Champagne trolley at The Connaught

We’re not sure if it moves, but the Champagne trolley at The Connaught is a popular fixture at the Mayfair hotel. After the success of the Tanqueray Ten Martini trolley, the bar team asked design agency Inkcorporate to create something similar for Champagne. Keen to mirror the Art Deco aesthetics of the hotel, the oval-shaped trolley has a black and gold colour scheme, making it both discreet but with luxury cues.

You’ll find it in the hotel’s bespoke Champagne room, or sometimes going head to head with the gin trolley in the main bar. Among the Champagnes nestled within the trolley are Jacquesson Cuvée No. 739 priced at £21 a glass, Dom Pérignon 2006 at £55, Krug Grande Cuvée at £65 or Clos des Mesnil for £250. All Champagnes are served in Baccarat crystal for added decadence.

Beer trolley at Honky Tonk

One of the first London venues to latch onto the booze trolley idea was Southern America-inspired blues, jazz and rockabilly restaurant Honky Tonk in Clapham, which launched the capital’s first beer trolley back in 2013.

Wheeled around by a trained beer sommelier, liquid delights ran the gamut from light and fruity to extra malty. To celebrate the launch of the trolley, the venue hosted a selection of craft beer and food matching masterclasses, where said trolley played a starring role.

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