Cocktail of the Week: St James’ Bar ‘The Passenger’

Bittersweet, nutty and fragrant, ‘The Passenger’ is an Orient Express-inspired spin on the classic Negroni…

What’s on your bucket list? Climbing Kilimanjaro? Road-tripping your way down Route 66? Diving the greatest coral reefs the ocean has to offer? Whatever exploits and escapades do make the cut, we’ve got another addition; sipping your way through the latest creative cocktail menu at Sofitel London St James.

In London’s West End, the five-star hotel’s St James Bar recently unveiled its ‘Once In A Lifetime’ drinks menu — and each of the sixteen signature creations has been specifically mixed to evoke an entry on your bucket list. There’s an Aurora Borealis in a glass, called the ‘Green Lights’. There’s the ‘Into the Wild’ — a safari-infused serve. There’s even the ‘Moon Shadow’, concocted to capture the magic of a total eclipse.

But the best cocktail to quench your thirst for life and libations? ‘The Passenger’. Inspired by the snaking, transcontinental route of the Orient Express, this serve follows in the footsteps of its fellow drinks — taking a classic cocktail and putting an unexpected spin on the ingredients. And this one twists the traditional Negroni.

Bittersweet, nutty and fragrant, ‘The Passenger’ doubles down on the Negroni’s usual gin base — adding a second slug of sloe gin into the intoxicating mix. The vermouth used is slightly less sweet than your usual fortified wine, and the Campari has been infused with sage leaves for the best part of a month.

Each sapid scent and flavour is plucked from the route of the Orient Express. Plum liqueur from Turkey, where the train would terminate in Istanbul. Juniper, used to create gin, from the forests of Northern Italy. And sage from the south of France, where the train glimpsed the glistening Mediterranean. ‘The Passenger’ even has a sage leaf sitting atop its large square ice cube; a fragrant finish to every astringent sip.

How to make the St James' Bar 'The Passenger’


  • 25 ml Boatyard Double Gin
  • 5 ml Boatyard Sloe Boat Gin
  • 15 ml Empirical Spirits ‘The Plum, I Suppose’
  • 15 ml Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
  • 25 ml Campari + Sage


To create the ‘Campari + Sage’:

  1. Put 50g of fresh sage leaves in a sous-vide bag
  2. Add 700ml of Campari and vacuum-seal the bag
  3. Cook at 23°C for one hour in an ultrasonic bath
  4. Fine strain using a coffee filter, bottle and refrigerate

To create the cocktail:

  1. Fill a mixing tin with cubed ice
  2. Add all the ingredients and stir until cold
  3. Pour into a rocks glass over a large block of ice
  4. Garnish with a fresh sage leaf

Want more cocktail recipes? Here’s how to make The Glenlivet’s ‘Caribbean Fire’…

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