Bespoke beverages: London restaurants making their own beer, wine, and spirits

Chefs and restaurateurs want ultimate control over what gets served at their restaurant. Sometimes, that extends to the drinks list. Here are a few joints making their own wine, brewing their own beer, and distilling their own spirits.

Mere – Monica Galetti had much cause for celebration when opening her first restaurant back in February. Not only did she break out the Champers, but went over the Channel to make her own. Monica and husband David (who’s also the sommelier of the restaurant) travelled to the Duval-Leroy vineyard in Côte des Blancs to create their unique blend to coincide with Mere’s opening.

Nanban – Tim Anderson’s restaurant has collaborated with Tottenham brewery Pressure Drop on a number of occasions. Their most notable creation together, a wheat IPA by the name of Nanban Kanpai, is dialled in to pair with the restaurant’s Japanese soul food – pork ramen, smoked eel and the rest.

Roast – Chapel Down have been making Roast’s Bacchus Reserve for 10 years. Initially developed as the ultimate match to the restaurant’s pork belly signature dish, this wine ultimately became one of the best sellers out of the cellar. The restaurant also keeps a silky smooth Malbec, produced for them by Ruca Malen in Argentina.

Shake Shack – It was with Brooklyn Brewery that the ShakeMeister Ale was born but, when Shake Shack branched out to London, a more localised brewer was to take the reigns. Thornbridge stepped forward, and in 2014 started supplying the restaurant chain with their slightly more British version of ShackMeister.

Pitt Cue – Turns out Pitt Cue are as serious about their beer as they are their grilled meats. So much so the restaurant started up its own small batch brewery on Devonshire Square. Though beers were initially meant for the restaurant, the Alphabeta Brewery has started rolling out its wares to other establishments. Catch their Extra Pale Ale, for example, at The Ned.

Fera – Earlier this year, Fera’s bartender and sommelier team took it upon themselves to create their own small batch gin, using juniper, coriander, angelica, orris, and apple marigold. The restaurant is able to churn out ten bottles a week – which they either sell or keep for gin and tonics.

St. John – We all love waxing on about the achievements of Fergus Henderson, but St John wouldn’t be what it is without the input of Trevor Gulliver too. Through St John’s co-founder, their own wine company was born – Trevor even secured a winery in a medieval village in Minervois. See a bottle emblazoned with the name Boulevard Napoleon, and you’ll know it’s straight from St John’s own little patch of France.

Sager + Wilde – Just like its sister wine bar in Hackney, Sager + Wilde’s restaurant on Paradise Row has a few of their own tailor-made wines (four on last count). Their red, made from Syrah grown in Neusiedlersee, is a particular highlight

Pizza Pilgrims – When James and Thom came back from trying to find the best pizza in Italy (and subsequently founded Pizza Pilgrims), they were a tad disappointed in the standard of limoncello in the UK. So they enlisted the help of British vodka distillery Chase to see to the problem. The result– Pococello – is a blend of Chase vodka and Amalfi lemons.

CERU – Wiltshire-based brewery Hop Kettle brew CERU’s own 3-grain pale for the restaurant on their behalf. The beer, which takes centre stage on the drinks menu, is designed to marry with CERU’s Levantine cuisine.

The Shed, Rabbit, and Nutbourne – The Gladwin brothers, born and raised as they were on a Sussex vineyard, didn’t miss a beat when they opened their first restaurant in Notting Hill. 13 bins are saved for wines made on the family’s estate, from Pinot Noirs to Chardonnay and Bacchus.

This is a guest post from freelance food journalist Hugh Thomas. He’s contributed to Foodism, Time Out, Great British Chefs, and is part of British Street Food’s small team of vigilant writers. Find him on twitter @hughwrites.