Any creative drinksman has an experimental cocktail he's been dying to unleash, but for whatever reason has kept on the bench, where the only person who gets to try it is Michael Owen. Because you never know until you try, we convinced bar tenders and owners to trot out their long-mulled concoctions; all are off-menu, so ask for them by name:
Calloh Callay's "Secret Thrill-er"
Served tall over ice, the Secret is a vehicle for rolling out the owner's long tinkered-with "nettle cordial", which he made by reducing nettle tea to its essence. It's then mixed with 42 Below, pear puree, cider, and lemon sugar, like a bittersweet symphony, except despite the nettles, there is no prick.
The first toy built with Purl's brand-new high-tech nitro equipment, these pops are made with Grand Marnier, Ketel Citron, lime & cranberry jelly, instantly frozen into a lolly-style booze-sphere with a liquid centre, and garnished with frozen orange zest, in keeping with the childhood joke "orange you glad I'm not giving you tongue splinters?"
Saf's "Sloe and Steady"
Mixed with locally-distilled Juniper Green Organic Sloe & Hayman's 1862, this botanically heavy libation is the first to showcase the bartender's own newly perfected, secret-recipe bitters, and's rounded out with muddled lime, plus basil grown in the bar's own garden -- where, just like Mr. Fawlty, it is nourished by a diet of poop.
Barrio Central's "Pina Tequila"
Eager to marry European herbs with Latin American fruit & booze, Barrio's alcohol-slinger has mixed reposado & blanco tequilas with freshly sliced pineapple, lime, soda, distinctly colder-climate sage leaves, and special-brewed thyme gomme, an intensely flavourful syrup made with the plant that in the Middle Ages was put under pillows to ward off nightmares (it's since been replaced by reposado and blanco tequila).
Paradise at Kensal Green's "Paradise Bay"
Brought on board simply to bring maximal refreshment to what's left of the summer, Paradise in this sense means a full pint of Beefeater, with cucumber, mint, and a ginger beer top, but not a ginger top, because Harry's Paradise is a world without apparently healthy older brothers.