THE shortlist
IN LONDON ...

Dick's Bar, Atlantic Bar and Grill, 20 Glasshouse St, W1 (0171-734 4888). Those who think of the Bloody Mary as a fridge-rummaging hangover cure will find the hair of the dog slightly less shaggy in the Bloody Mary Mix: vodka, tomato juice, red wine, sherry, orange zest, nutmeg, celery salt, Lea & Perrins, Tabasco and lemon.

Flamingo Bar, 9 Hanover St, W1 (0171-491 1558). Head Rush is a popular New Zealand import here (at least among the staff). It involves inhaling fumes through a straw caught in a pint glass after igniting a shot of Chartreuse or black Sambuca, preceded by the hot drink itself. Those without circus skills might like to try the Brazilian Batida, with two shots of Cachaca, crushed ice and fruit all blended with sugar.

Rikitik, 23-24 Bateman St, W1 (0171-437 1977). Paul White designed the decor, but perhaps not the range of vodka shots including white Toblerone and mint Aero. The Pancake Shooter involves a slice of lemon folded over and filled with coffee and sugar chased down by vodka.

Cuba Libra, 72 Upper St, N1 (0171-354 9998). Old town Cuban style bar with revolutionary memorabilia. Happy "hour" runs from 5pm-8pm on weekdays, 12pm-8pm on Saturdays and for a crippling full day on Sundays. The Cuban Mojito contains Cuban Havana Club rum, sugar, lime bitters and freshly chopped mint served on ice and topped with soda.

Trader Vic's, Hilton Hotel Basement, Park Lane, W1 (0171-208 4113). Consultations available with drinks such as Doctor Funk of Tahiti, a combination of Jamaican rums and Pernod. Other cocktail creators to look out for in this league are Peter Dorelli at the American Bar, Savoy Hotel, and Salvatore Calabrasic at the Lanesborough Hotel.

JW Johnson, 78 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 2FW (0161-831 7772). Very much the cocktail flair bar, with a competition on 11 December featuring shakers from around the world. Their Harlem Mugger, a combination of vodka, Bacardi, gin, Triple-Sec, Tia Maria, Grand Marnier, sweet and sour cocktail mix, and champagne offers to "kick your head in and steal your money". Good luck.

Clans Bar, George Inter-Continental Hotel, George Street, Edinburgh (0131-225 1251). Decorated with the crests of over a hundred clans with open fireplaces and stag's heads. The Highlander cocktail is made from their own Clans blended whisky, cherry Heering and ginger ale.

The Lounge, West Regent Street, Glasgow (0141-221 4847). As seen in Vogue and Elle magazines with it's orange and blue decor. Local favourite, available in bulk is the Lounge Lizard cocktail of vodka, Cointreau, lemon and lime.

The Cornerhouse, 8 Exchange Place, Middlesborough, Cleveland, TS1 5DR (01642 231886). Occasional Wednesdays here offer Some Velvet Evening - Stereo Sounds to Soothe the Soul. Sartorial excess, board games and classic songs from the Carpenters, Glen Campbell and Nancy Sinatra. Cocktails named after cultural icons include the Absolut Bacharach with Absolut Citron, Grand Marnier, peach schnapps, grenadine, fresh orange and pineapple juice (plus a strawberry). Two Tom Joneses and a Shirley Bassey please.

Sumo Wok, 64 Park St, Bristol, BS1 5JN (0117 9293578). Through the discreet doorway and up the Bangkok style scarlet stairwell lies the Dojo bar, offering a complete night's entertainment of Jackie Chan escapades, Manga cartoons from Japan, poetry, board games and rare groove DJs. For the Dojo Rising you need vodka, sake and apple juice shaken on ice, served into a highball Creme de Mure float. Garnish with a cocktail cherry and orange slice.

Compiled by Pascal Wyse

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