The Inside Track

If you’re in search of some winning whiskey cocktails, then Woodford Reserve, the ultimate small-batch bourbon, has some tips…

In a world of big whiskey brands, Woodford Reserve remains resolutely small batch. Crafted on a tiny scale on the site of the oldest working distillery in Kentucky, every bottle of this iconic bourbon comes bearing its very own batch and bottle number. Made with an unusually high proportion of rye, and
a laborious triple distillation, it marries an aromatic, spicy fullness with a rounded, smooth finish that’s perfect for both sipping and mixing.

But if you want to understand how much Woodford Reserve is loved on its home turf, all you need to know is that it’s also the official bourbon of the state’s famed horse race, the Kentucky Derby. And now, thanks to the revival in American classic cocktails such as the Manhattan and Sazerac taking place in London, it’s also a favourite with bartenders and whiskey connoisseurs in the UK. If that’s left you feeling a little thirsty, then perhaps  it’s time for Woodford Reserve to lead the way to some of London’s best bourbon cocktail bars…


77 Curtain Road, EC2A 3BS; 020 7739 4781;

Following the success of its pop-up restaurant earlier this year, foodies have been getting into a frenzy waiting for the arrival of the permanent Beard to Tail in Shoreditch. Expect carnivorous delights accompanied by cocktails from the hugely creative Callooh Callay team such as the Beard to Tail julep, a twist on the Kentucky classic made with Woodford Reserve, Southern Comfort, apricot liqueur, grapefruit bitters and home-made jam.

Woodford advertorial - Beaufort_Bar.jpgBEAUFORT BAR AT THE SAVOY

The Savoy, Strand, WC2R 0EU; 020 7836 4343;

A rival to the legendary 1920s-style American Bar, the Beaufort is opulently decorated in golds and jet-black, making a theatrical statement. In fact, it occupies the old stage where big bands used to entertain The Savoy’s classy clientele. Today the drinks are on tune, as the Beaufort specialises in cask-ageing its own cocktails, a process that carefully marries the ingredients in an oak cask for added finesse and complexity. A fine example is the Woodford Sazerac, which is given even more historical significance thanks to the glassware – a Lalique crystal glass from 1875 – the very era in which the Sazerac was born.


36 Dean Street, W1D 4PS; 020 7432 4800;

If you’re the indecisive type then you’ll love Burger and Lobster, the bar and restaurant where there are only three dishes on the list – yep, you guessed it, burgers, lobster and lobster roll. There are some excellent cocktails to be had, too – so to spare you dithering, can we recommend you head straight for the Churchill Down, a julep-style drink featuring Woodford Reserve, apricot purée, lemon juice, honey and mint. Simple!

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74 Welbeck Street, W1G 0BA; 020 7224 4239;

The latest opening from the gastro-punks behind cult booze-and-burger joints Meateasy and Meat Market, this stylish dive stays true to form by abandoning all fripperies in pursuit of flavour (plus plenty of kitchen roll). Slide into a booth, order up a superb burger and sink one of their ultra-indulgent Woodford Reserve and maple-syrup milkshakes. Slumming it has never tasted so good.


31 Kensington Park Road, W11 2EU; 020 7792 3921;

This classy little west London bar has fostered many of the best bartenders in London, and it remains a dead-cert for classically influenced cocktails that are mixed with skill and served with style. The East meets West is a fine example – from a family of drinks known as the ‘smash’, this refreshing yet complex tipple sees Woodford Reserve shaken really, really hard with mint, a touch of Lebanese honey and a little pomegranate.


129 City Road, EC1V 1JB; 020 7253 4101;

Every cocktail at this subterranean speakeasy is nigh on a work of art, featuring unique, vintage vessels, elegant garnishes and unexpected details. And the recipes are ultra-creative, too – the adventurous Kentucky Cornrow is an unexpectedly delicious combination of Woodford Reserve, maple syrup, amaretto and just a hint of creamy-yet-sour Greek yoghurt tincture. Trust us, you need to try it.

Woodford advertorial - Powder_Keg_Diplomacy_2011_-_1_copy.jpgPOWDER KEG DIPLOMACY

147 St John’s Hill, SW11 1TQ; 020 7450 6457;

The glinting, mirror-backed bar at this south London favourite takes its inspiration from the creativity of the Victorian era, producing vintage-style drinks pepped up with innovative ingredients (think eucalyptus, green tea and amontillado sherry) and top-quality spirits. Punches are a particular speciality – if you’re feeling a thirst for bourbon in particular, then the Woodford Reserve-based Chatham Artillery Punch is just the ticket.

Woodford advertorial - Rivoli_Bar_2010_The_Rivoli_Bar.jpgTHE RIVOLI BAR AT THE RITZ

150 Piccadilly, W1J 9BR; 020 7493 8181;

You don’t get much more super-luxe than The Ritz, and the Rivoli bar is the jewel in its crown, glistening with chandeliers, lacquered wood and cut glassware. And yet it’s intimate, too – a luxurious place to linger over a really carefully crafted cocktail such as a their signature Manhattan, made with Woodford Reserve, sweet vermouth and a dash of bourbon infused with one of five ingredients: allspice, apple, plum, citrus or vanilla.

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