New and festive holiday drinks

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - December 27, 2011 .

We visited Fairmount's London Grill, which just celebrated 20 years as a bar and restaurant. That's a long time in restaurant years, and co-owner Terry Berch NcNally says the key to London's success is never-ending creativity.

At the bar, she's not afraid to nudge the rules aside. For example, a classic cocktail should have no more than three ingredients, but London's bar staff does whatever it takes to make visually-interesting, palate-pleasing libations. That includes fruit in season, either fresh or "infused"...macerated in some alcoholic concoction.

The list of available beverages is always growing. And London never shies away from doing something daring, like mixing beer into cocktails. Bar manager Cristina Tessaro says you should choose ingredients that have a natural affinity. And be aware of alcoholic content.

A beer mixed with spirits shouldn't be served in a full-sized beer glass,. but rather a smaller cocktail glass. Beyond that, let your taste buds be your guide. If it tastes good to you, enjoy it. And you know what your guests like, so choose ingredients based on those tastes.

London will host a two-faceted New Year's Eve celebration. Earlier in the evening, mostly neighborhood families are likely to show up for regular menu choices.

Toward midnight, Chef Michael McNally is planning some upscale offerings for a memorable evening. At midnight, the bar will offer free champagne to guests of drinking age, and everyone will watch the new year arrive on a widescreen television.

For more information phone 215-978-4545 or go to their website, London Grill , where they'll post some beverage tips.

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