Alice Lascelles is the spirits and cocktails columnist for The Sunday Times and The Times, founding editor of Imbibe, and author of ‘Ten Cocktails: The Art of Convivial Drinking’, published by Saltyard Books. She is also a musician, touring with the White Stripes and recording sessions for BBC 6 Music, Xfm and Radio 2. She lives in London with her husband Al, a professional musician, their two sons Alfred and George, and cocker spaniel, Daisy.
I’ve been a drinks journalist for 12 years. I love it because it isn’t just about propping up bars, it’s a job that takes you all over the world. One minute you’re in a high-rise in Tokyo with an ice-carver, or tasting raki in a fish market in Istanbul; the next in the agave fields of Mexico, or in a speakeasy in Manhattan, or a lab at Oxford University, or digging peat on Islay.
You meet strippers and professors and Michelin chefs and farmers. People get excited and emotional about drinks, too. Every time I lead a tasting people come up and share all sorts of personal stories and memories that have been triggered.
I’ve never had a long-term game plan. The most important thing for me is to have a life that I find exciting and interesting and as far as possible work with people I like, and journalism has given me that. I also like to be master of my own time so being freelance is very important – it’s also been great as a working mother. Al and I both work freelance and share childcare completely equally; being around for our children is very important to us.
The lack of sleep and the brain-melting logistics of having a dog and two children are the biggest challenges we face as parents. We don’t have a nanny – just a child-minder 2.5 days a week for the baby and 9-3 nursery for the toddler. And my mum pitches in when she can. Work just has to fit into every nook and cranny it can. My 3 year old was a great sleeper but my 10 month old often wakes just after five which makes me want to die on a regular basis. But then, when you’ve got two small children giggling in the bath, that’s pretty much perfect happiness.
Best drinking spots in London
Mission, Bethnal Green
Super cool, unpretentious wine bar run by ex-bartenders. Feels a bit like being in Manhattan.
Bar Termini, Soho
Tiny little bar, exquisite little cocktails, no nonsense. Have the Marsala Martini. In a world where everything feels like it’s always sold out or has to be planned months in advance, this is the kind of place you just pop into, which I love it for.
Tonkotsu, Mare Street
I love Japanese whiskey but normally you have to go to 5 star hotels to find it. Stuffed away on a Hackney high street opposite Primark this hip little Japanese diner has an amazing selection and really friendly staff. And great food, too. A hidden gem.
Belsazar Rosé and Tonic
If you’ve got kids, then time is of the essence (you and probably need a drink… quick). This is a light little number I was drinking just last night, made with vermouth, which is extremely hot right now. The vermouth in question is a great new rosé vermouth from Germany called Belsazar (available in 75cl and half-size 35cl bottles from masterofmalt.com, thewhiskyexchange.com, gerrys.uk.com). It’s easy go throw together (do it by the glass or the jugful), but elegant enough to serve visitors and it’s got half the alcohol of a G&T so you shouldn’t feel too bad when the kids all wake up at 5am the next morning…
50ml Belsazar Rosé Vermouth
100ml chilled tonic
Good squeeze of white grapefruit
Method: add all the ingredients to a big wineglass full of ice and garnish with a grapefruit slice.