Mash, the micro-breweries in Manchester and London that made hops hip, are brewing a rare Bavarian beer - but only until 23 December. The consolation is that you can buy an eight-pint mini-keg to take away for just pounds 14; in either of the bars it's pounds 3.20 a pint. Brewmaster Alastair Hook believes this is the only example of a Bavarian wheat-bock beer brewed in Britain. So, especially for beer boffins, here comes the science: at 6.5 per cent ABV, this is a warm, dark and invigorating beer, and because of the quantity of crystal malt it contains, it has a lush sweetness which is balanced by the zestiness associated with wheat beers. The Bavarian yeast it uses is unusual in having the spicy taste of cloves - just right for Christmas. Both Mash bars are the grooviest breweries you'll find, and the toast of beer lovers who have broken away from the Morris dancing antics that often go with real ale drinking.
Mash, 40 Chorlton Street, Manchester (0161 661 6161); 19-21 Great Portland Street, London W1 (0171-637 5555).
DNA cocktail from the Atlantic Bar & Grill
Just off Piccadilly Circus you'll find a maelstrom of cocktail-making behind the bar that separates drinkers from diners in the imposing, richly coloured Art-Deco underground hall of the Atlantic Bar & Grill. And it was here that a brain- and booze-storming session among the Atlantic's bartenders produced a crop of innovative cocktails to take customers into 2000. There are champagne cocktails, long drinks, a tropical sour and a non-alcoholic Banana Boom - and that's on top of the existing bar list. The DNA cocktail, devised by Emmanuel Audermatte, has seasonal-sounding apricot brandy mixed with gin, and additions of orange and lemon for a citric balance. Ingredients: 11/2oz Bombay Sapphire gin, 3/4oz apricot brandy, 1/4oz gomme syrup, 1oz lemon juice, a dash of orange bitters. Shake together with ice and then strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with a twist of orange.
Atlantic Bar & Grill, 20 Glasshouse Street, London W1 (0171-734 4888).
2000 Go from Che
For a bar set in the traditionally blue-blooded St James's quarter of London, Che takes a radical approach to drinks, with the emphasis on rum and tequila cocktails. Bar manager Nick Strangeway, fresh from devising a Bloody Casino (gin, lemon juice, pomegranate juice and maraschino) for the James Bond launch party, has broken with winter tradition to come up with 2000 Go, a long, gorgeous blend of vodka with almond and raspberry flavours that leaves the past behind with a deep pink fruity blast. If anything it's autumnal, Nick says, but whatever the season it's deliciously fruity. Ingredients: 50ml vodka, 20ml Amaretto di Saronno, 10ml creme de framboise, 10ml raspberry puree (available from supermarkets), 10ml fresh lemon juice, 1tsp sugar syrup (sirop de gomme). Mix up all of these together with ice in a shaker and pour into a highball glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with fresh raspberries and a sprig of mint.
Che, 23 St James's Street, London SW1 (0171-747 9380).
Jungle Juice from Zeta
At Zeta in London the emphasis is on the healthy quality of its cocktails. And the bar's self-styled "spirit technician", Jason Fendick, has come up with Jungle Juice, an instant energy booster intended to replenish anyone suffering from pre-millennium meltdown. The drink has 124 calories and is a good source of vitamins A, C and B6. Ingredients: 125ml juiced honeydew melon, 50ml juiced mango, 1 passion fruit (keep one half of the pulp for garnish), 5 blueberries, 1 vial of bee pollen, 1tsp guarana (you can buy both guarana and a vial containing bee pollen, royal jelly and the natural antibiotic propolis from health food stores). Blend all ingredients together with two ice cubes for 30 seconds. Pour into a long glass and sprinkle the remaining passion fruit on top. At Zeta, Jungle Juice costs pounds 4. Make it at home, and by the time you've bought all the ingredients, it probably isn't much cheaper. Sometimes it pays to go out for a drink.
Zeta, 35 Hertford Street, London W1 (0171-208 4067).
Flaming Farewell 1999
at The Library Bar
The look may be trad, but the Library Bar in The Lanesborough Hotel has in its legendary barman, Salvatore Calabrese, someone at the forefront of cocktail-making. When the Thames is set on fire this New Year's Eve, he'll be doing the same to this Champagne-based drink that should end the year with a bang. Stir together in a mixing glass 20ml Galliano and two drops Archers peach schnapps. Pour this into a chilled Champagne glass and very gently - over the back of a bar spoon - pour in pink Champagne until the glass is two-thirds full. Into another mixing glass, pour a 5ml dash of brandy and 10ml of absinthe. Give this a stir and pour on top of the Champagne. In a teaspoon, soak a sugar lump in absinthe, set alight and float on the top of the drink. "Wait for the fireworks," says Salvatore. Absinthe is available at Gerry's Off Licence, 74 Old Compton Street, London W1 (0171-734 4215) from pounds 29.95 a bottle.
The Library Bar, The Lanesborough, Hyde Park Corner, London SW1 (0171- 259 5599).
Vina Porta, Limited Edition Cabernet Sauvignon from Cantina Vinopolis
A thoroughly modern red wine from an emerging wine-producing country, Vina Porta represents the very best of Chilean wine. Soft but full-bodied, with blackcurrant and strawberry flavours balanced with chocolatey tones, it would go well with goose, as it has the acidity to cut through fat, suggests Clare Ashdown, manager of the Majestic Wine Warehouse at Vinopolis, London's "city of wine" interactive museum. The wine is part of the wide-ranging list at Cantina Vinopolis, the museum's breathtaking brick-vaulted restaurant and bar. This pure Cabernet Sauvignon makes a refreshing change from the clarets that many of us automatically revert to at Christmas. Its other great selling point is the price: at pounds 4.99 from Oddbins and Fuller's (0181-996 2000), it's incredible value. Vina Porta Limited Edition Cabernet Sauvignon is also available at the Majestic Wine Warehouse at Vinopolis (but no other Majestics) at pounds 4.99.
Cantina Vinopolis, 1 Bank End, London SE1 (0171-940 8333).
Green Mango tea from Whittard
Green tea is the brew everyone's talking about. The most natural of all teas, the leaves retain properties that the Chinese believe aid digestion and help relaxation. Scientific studies are starting to back up these claims, and there's a growing conviction that green tea really is therapeutic. Drink it very lightly brewed, without milk, for a leafy-tasting and very untraditional cuppa. Whittard's shops and its two t-bars offer half a dozen green teas: Gunpowder, the China green tea; Sencha, the Japanese variety; Darjeeling Green; Green Earl Grey (with oil of bergamot for the distinctive Earl Grey flavour); Mango; and Peach. Green teas cost pounds 2.75 for a 125g packet of Darjeeling Green, Earl Grey, Mango and Peach, and pounds 2.50 for 125g packets of Gunpowder and Sencha. For Whittard's customer information line call 01800 525092.
t-bar, Unit 15D, Serpentine Green Shopping Centre, Peterborough (01733 347665) and 72 Baker Street, London W1 (0171-224 1165).
Late Harvested Orange Muscat and Flora, Brown Brothers
from Tides at St David's Hotel
Alan Meneghetti, assistant restaurant manager of Tides restaurant and bar at the St David's Hotel in Cardiff, would love more people to appreciate sweet wines. And Brown Brothers' Late Harvested Orange Muscat and Flora, an alternative to better-known and pricier dessert wines such as Barsac and Chateau d'Yquem, is one that shows the way forward in typical fresh and fruity Australian style. "It's a beautiful dessert wine," Alan enthuses, "a bit funky and really special because of the combination of two unusual grapes: orange muscat and flora." The blend was pioneered by, and is unique to, Brown Brothers, which has made it since the Seventies. Late Harvested Orange Muscat and Flora is available at pounds 5.99 a bottle from Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose, Oddbins, Unwins, Majestic and Co-op stores.
Tides, St David's Hotel, Havana Street, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff (01222 454045) nReuse content