Food & Drink

Cocktail Hour: Bar Swift

Three simple steps to recreate the Soho establishment's new vermouth cocktail – it's summer in a glass

Bar Swift on Old Compton Street has fast become a favourite of in-the-know Londoners. Opened only last year by Mia Johansson and Bobby Hiddleston, previously of much-hyped cocktail joints Nightjar and Oriole, Bar Swift offers two floors of glamourous, old-school elegance in the middle of Soho. Their Downstairs Bar focuses on modern takes on classic drinks, with a recently relaunched menu that revolves around combining old-school favourites with current cocktail trends. This involves using lesser-known ingredients such as Armagnac, mezcal and Irish whisky and introducing retro flavours to the cocktails, including peanut butter, kiwi and rhubarb.

One of the highlights of their new menu is The Sterling, a cocktail that riffs on the current trend for vermouth and sherry, while also bringing in complex flavours of peach and orange that taste thoroughly of summer. The Sterling was created by Johansson as a light, delicate aperitif – ideal for sharing with a date, or bridging the gap between finishing work and heading out to dinner.

‘We love the concept of wine as a base for a cocktail, so there are three from three different European countries in The Sterling,’ Hiddlestone explains. ‘The Noilly Prat gives a light, floral, herbaceous backbone, while the Manzanilla adds acidity and the Tokaji gives fruitiness and body.’ Although it has the trio of wines at its base, The Sterling is lightened with summery fruit flavours. ‘All the wines we chose are complemented by the peach and anise flavours from the liqueur and the dash of absinthe,’ he says. At the end of the day, this is a simple cocktail that doesn’t try to do too much – which suits Bar Swift down to the ground. ‘Despite being complex in flavour, it has simplicity at its core, which is why it fits with our ethos so well,’ Hiddlestone says.

It’s this intelligent simplicity that makes The Sterling the ideal cocktail to recreate in the comfort of your own home this weekend. Here’s how you do it in three simple steps.

The Sterling

  • The Sterling
  • 45ml Noilly
  • 25ml Tokaji
  • 15ml Manzanilla
  • 5ml peche
  • 2 dash orange bitters
  • 1 dash Absinthe
  • Pickled apricot garnish

Mix the ingredients together well, but don’t overstir

Pour the concoction into a chilled port glass with a cube or two of ice, if you like

Garnish with a pickled apricot, and serve