The road to 2020 was paved with good intentions, but seriously, no one is going to judge you for backtracking on that Dry January resolution. Rather than giving up the goods completely this year, why not take a more mindful approach and get stuck in to some of the really good goods out there? To get you started, we’ve rounded up a few ways you can drink less, but drink better this New Year, and our top spots to do it, from breweries bolstering their local communities, to the best bars in London to expand your boozing horizons.
Improve Your Knowledge of the Classics
Sydenham’s Ignition Brewery front a unique initiative that employs and trains people with learning disabilities across brewing, bartending and the business of beer. And to top it off? Alongside churning out some great pints, their taproom also doubles as a community space for everything from exhibitions to baby ballet classes.
Toast: A Southwark-based brewer that makes beer from bread offcuts and donates all its profits to charities and food industry disruptors.
London Beer Lab: The Brixton development bar that created a generation of hobby and home brewers through its hands-on classes and hop wholesaling.
Renegade is the winery for a new generation of drinkers. Their bottles are a hodge-podge of places and people, with grapes from across Europe squished into fine tipples in their Bethnal Green HQ before being plastered with some unique label art featuring snapshots of local Londoners.
Diogenes the Dog: Walworth’s countercultural wine bar putting focus on emerging regions and new means of production.
Lady of the Grapes: A cosy Covent Garden spot who have thrown their weight behind female wine producers.
The idea of urban cider may bring to mind lukewarm Scrumpy Jacks in your local park, but Hawkes are committed to changing the game. London’s first ever cidery, their spacious Bermondsey taproom serves up a huge range of pints from across the globe, as well as their own innovative brand of London-pressed blends.
Pilango Cider Bar: Fulham’s premier fermented apple fiends, Pilango is a bottle shop, bar and craft brewer with the largest collection of craft cider in the country.
Trap Taproom: A vibrant Walthamstow outpost from the Real Al Company, at Trap you’ll find a slick line up of game-changing ciders.
Learn To Appreciate The Serious Stuff
Dalston’s Gold Step offers a new, accessible avenue to agave appreciation by leading with what you already love. Showing there’s more to tequila than Jose Cuervo and crying in taxis, they’ll give you the lowdown on what makes it such a dynamic spirit, before whipping you up bespoke cocktails attuned to your particular palate.
Sin Gusano: This Soho bar happens to be home to the Mezcal Appreciation Society, and is one of London’s best agave educators.
Hacha: You’ll find an ever-changing line-up of 25 unique and rare mezcals and tequilas gracing the shelves of this Kingsland Road spot.
Hidden behind Peckham’s Copeland Park, the Kanpai Sake Brewery & Taproom is the first of its kind in the UK. Head over for a tour, a tasting or get hands-on with their interactive brewing experience. Or you can get into sake the old fashioned way, with a few hours exploring the range in their taproom.
Sakagura: An icon of London’s sake scene, Sakagura is a steak and sushi spot with one of the city’s most enviable collections.
Moto: A dinky haunt in the heart of Covent Garden, Moto is serving up a range of Japanese craft sake and delicious paired snacks.
A bar that should need no introduction at this point, Black Rock continue to lead the way with whisky, offering one of the most extensive libraries in London. Their Shoreditch venue is now letting you add your own personal drams to the mix with the launch of their hands-on blending experience.
Bull in a China Shop: Rare Japanese and Scotch whiskies take centre stage at this former tea shop near Boxpark Shoreditch.
Homeboy: A relaxed cocktail bar on Essex Road, Homeboy is showing you exactly why Irish whiskey was once the best-selling spirit in the world.
Embrace The Unknown
Tipped as one of the big tastes of 2020, vermouth is one to look out for. Start your education at Mele e Pere, a gorgeous Italian restaurant in Soho that is home to London’s largest selection of the stuff. They’ve even got their own house brand vermouth, that you can enjoy straight from the tap, or whipped up into a cocktail.
El Vermut: A friendly neighbourhood bar and bottle shop in Nunhead serving up a mammoth selection of Spanish vermouths and tasty tapas.
Vermuteria: An all day bar and cafe in Coal Drops Yard with an extensive Italian vermouth offering, alongside pastries and small plates.
Poitin is this writer’s pick if you’re looking to try something completely different in the new year. Irish moonshine by any other name, the spirit - which was banned until the mid-90s - gets its London showcase courtesy of Bethnal Green’s Sun Tavern who not only own the largest legal collection of poitin in the entire world, they’ve even established an appreciation day for it on 18th of November.