Libations with a Literary Twist on World Cocktail Day

Whether you're a Shakespeare buff, a big fan of The BFG, or simply welcome your whisky with a whimsical theme, drinking dens across England offer plenty of libations with a literary spin for bookworms and cocktail lovers alike. To mark World Cocktail Day on May 13, VisitEngland rounds up the country’s best literature-inspired beverages, which may just get your own creative juices flowing. 

Shakespeare themed show-stoppers at the RSC
Get a real taste of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s current Rome season at the RSC’s Rooftop Restaurant and cocktail bar in Stratford-upon-Avon, where the productions are just as impressive as those in the theatre. The show-stopping selection of Roman-inspired cocktails includes; Et, tu Brute?, a punchy and robust Julius Caesar inspired cocktail mixing sparkling white wine, Italian herbal liqueur Galliano and blue Curacao syrup; Queen of the Nile, a creamy, coffee delightbased on Shakespeare’s passionate play Antony & Cleopatra including a shot of Italian grape-based brandy Grappa; Bloody Titus, a take on Shakespeare’s gory and tragic Titus Andronicus using a mix of port, vodka and grenadine to create a bold and bloodthirsty fusion; and Cocktail of War inspired by Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, a powerful concoction with a kick of spirits and orange juice.

Homage to The Hobbit in Birmingham
What better way to toast the 80th anniversary of The Hobbit this year than in Birmingham, widely believed to have provided inspiration for some of the settings in JRR Tolkien’s work, with the new Hobbits in Manhattan cocktail at The Edgbaston Hotel. Honouring Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, the cocktail consists of Johnnie Walker Gold Label, Guinness Byrrh and cherry brandy and appears on the boutique hotel’s newly created cocktail menu. Called ‘The Taste of Birmingham’, the selection has been designed around the rich history, culture and heritage that the city is so well renowned for.

Black Beauty nightcap in Norwich
As a nod to Anna Sewell living and writing Black Beauty in Norwich, a cocktail named after the famous book is available at The Library Restaurant, Bar & Grill and is a no-brainer choice for fans of the bestseller novel. Aptly located in Norwich, England’s first UNESCO City of Literature, the magnificent building was once home to the UK's first public subscription library and is only a stone's throw away in the Norwich Lanes from Jarrolds independent department store selling copies of the book. Furthermore, Jarrolds were once printers and first published Black Beauty 140 years ago this year. The Black Beautycocktail, served in an Irish coffee glass, comprising dark rum, Galliano, brown creme de cacao and coffee, is what after dinner drink dreams are made of. Additionally, around the corner at the quirky pub The Birdcage order a Sewell 77 made from rum, Kahlua, Martini Rosso, Lemon and Coke served in a martini glass decorated with edible flowers.

British classics abound at The Blind Pig, London
Inspired by classic children’s stories such as Alice in Wonderland and The BFG, a new ‘Long and Short Great British Tails’ menu has launched at Jason Atherton’s London speakeasy style cocktail bar, The Blind Pig. The nostalgic collection sees each element of every cocktail designed to be intrinsically linked to the chosen story – from the name to the ingredients.Hunny Pot, for example, is dedicated to A.A Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, and features Havana 7 rum, salted butter, Crowded Hive mead, Somerset apple brandy, lemon, honey and orange bitters served in a clay honey pot with a pig sweet garnish. Meanwhile, Half a Pint o’ Buttah is inspired by J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series; combining Monkey Shoulder Scotch, thyme, butterscotch, citrus, bitters and beer. Complementing the incredible cocktails, The Blind Pig commissioned illustrator Masha Karpushina to capture the essence of each story with artwork for each drink, which is presented in the menu, designed to read like a story book. Other imaginative offerings include; Float Like a Peach, after James and the Giant Peach; Magic Memories after Peter Pan; Languid Caterpillar after Alice in Wonderland; Lost & Found after Paddington Bear; X Marks The Spot after Treasure Island; and Dream Jar after The BFG.           

A flavour of Ian Fleming at The Feathers Hotel at Woodstock
Famous for making it into the Guinness Book of Records for the greatest variety of gins served on the planet, The Feathers Hotel at Woodstock near Oxford is an excellent choice whether you prefer your gin Martini shaken or stirred. With a total of over 400 gins, the bar at The Feathers is something of a pilgrimage spot for aficionados of the fragrant spirit. Furthermore, the Dirty Martinis, inspired by the James Bond story Spectre are an added draw, as is the Vesper Martini which mixes vodka and gin and appears in Casino Royale. Although Mr Bond sips both gin and vodka-based Martinis in the stories, The Feathers Hotel’s resident barman Peter points out that vodka is a neutral spirit that brings little to the party compared with gin, with its juniper and other botanicals, and insists that the Vesper Martini, 'invented’ in the 1953 novel Casino Royale, is far superior. Fans of Ian Fleming’s famous literature, as well as the James Bond films, will get a further kick out of knowing they’re following in the footsteps of the cast members from Spectre, who stayed at the hotel during the filming of the movie.

Great Gatsby glamour in Manchester’s Northern Quarter
The Fitzgerald is an atmospheric hidden gem with splendid décor and a decidedly vintage vibe. Just like the secret drinking spots of the prohibition era, it has an air of mystery with its back street entrance and dark and moody interior. It also channels the classic speakeasy perfectly, with 1920s glassware and an array of decadent literary-inspired cocktails. House favourites include Boulevardier, the bourbon cousin to a negroni combining Bulleit Bourbon, sweet vermouth, and Campari, which is acreation ascribed to Erskine Gwynne, an American-born writer who founded a monthly magazine in Paris called Boulevardier, which ran from 1927 to 1932. Other highlights include; Tequila Mockingbird, a Mexican spin on the much-loved Mai Tai, mixing El Jimador Tequila, triple sec, orgeat, pink grapefruit and lemon; and the Hemingway Daiquiri, a tart and sharp combination blending Santa Teresa 1796 rum, maraschino, lime, pink grapefruit and cherry and so named because Hemingway reportedly drank it regularly at the El Floridita Bar in Havana, Cuba. Your motive may differ to Hemingway’s, who once said “I drink to make other people more interesting”, but with cocktails this tempting you’re unlikely to be able to stop at one.


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