Forget any preconceived notion you might have about alcho-pops, West Eleven cocktails are leagues apart from those. They’re stylish for a start: the name confirms that. Is there anywhere in London more image conscious than W11? Probably, but not on such a global scale. (Thank you Hugh Grant and Ms Roberts, you’ve done wonders for raising the profile of Notting Hill.)
But West Eleven cocktails are more than an affluent, pseudo-trendy postcode. These guys really want to be taken seriously. So they’ve enlisted the services of master mixologist Ben Reed to create the drinks and gone for a smart matt label and sexy 1930s American drugstore-esque typeface that knocks spots off a Bacardi Breezer or anything with a remotely wicked side.
That said, having the confidence to call any pre-mixed drink available in Sainsbury’s a cocktail is brave if not a tad arrogant. How good they are really depends on whether you’re a connoisseur or if you don’t quite know what to order at the bar much less how to mix cocktails at home. For the experts out there, there’s no way a bottled drink is ever going to cut it – even with Mr Reed on board to shake up the offer. But for those who want to sip a cocktail away from an intimidating bar environment, these 200 ml bottles are a great place to start.
We tried four of the five varieties on offer, shaking each and serving over ice with a twist of lemon (or a sprig of mint in the case of the Classic Mojito) as recommended. First up, the Pomegranate Cosmo: very sweet, quite cloying and dangerously devoid of any taste of alcohol despite its 6.5% vol. Next up, the Elderflower Collins: again quite sweet but this time much more subtle. We liked the taste of the elderflower and the delicate balance of flavours. The Passionfruit Mai Tai packed a much more interesting punch. We were impressed with the fact you could taste the rum as well as the satisfyingly exotic passion fruit. While this veered very much on the sweet side of things, we recommend leaving the ice to dilute in it for a bit before getting stuck in. Our last taster was the Classic Mojito. Maybe we were expecting too much, maybe we’ve tasted far too many mojitos for our own good, whatever, this didn’t deliver for us at all. Sorry Ben.
Overall, much better than your average pre-mixed drink. Our tip is to make sure you do as advised and drink from the appropriate glass (cleverly illustrated on the label) rather than necking straight from the bottle (never a good look and it does nothing for the taste). Serve over lots and lots of ice. Try them for yourself and let us know what you think.
Available from selected Sainsburys stores and thedrinkkshop.com