As diners become an ever more discerning bunch, and owners look to increase their profit margins, decent restaurants increasingly look to ensure their drinks offering is as exciting as what’s being cooked up in the kitchen. And it’s not just about having a thoughtful wine list. Whether it’s fine whiskies or interesting, well-made cocktails – the appetite for eclectic drinking goes hand in hand with the rise of informal dining. Consider Mr Jason Atherton. He all but invented relaxed fine dining in a bar-like setting with Pollen Street Social, and has subsequently built a global empire on it. Indeed, people don’t just go to restaurants to eat.
Hoppers, a Sri Lankan street-food restaurant in London, got the “eat” part spot on since, well, it opened 9 months ago. If you don’t want to stomach the queue (it’s in Soho, where queuing is mandatory) and find out for yourself, then listen to the revered restaurant critic Ms Fay Maschler who gave it five stars, or the London Evening Standard – which recently named it Best New Restaurant.
To complement the traditional karis and sambols it serves up, Hoppers has recently announced a new cocktail menu, which benefits from interesting Sri Lankan spirits such as Ceylon Arrack (distilled from the sap of the coconut flower) and Colombo Gin. To learn more about how to drink Hoppers style, we asked bar manager Mr James Stevenson to select a drink from his menu and teach us how to make it. It may require a little effort, as we doubt you’ll have these ingredients lying around, but there’s nothing wrong with adding a bit more variety to your drinks cabinet, is there?