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New Ways to Nightcap

Feature: Long Read
Words by Emilie Dock

Chillier days. Longer nights. It’s time to break out the good liquor. Forming the bedrock of any good bar cabinet, Scotch is often the drink of choice to close out the evening. But it’s far from the only option. For a new addition to your personal minibar, look no further than our edit of autumn-ready spirits. Chin-chin.

Mezcal Magic

Tequila’s older, earthier cousin, mezcal is made from 30-plus varietals of the agave desert plant. The piña (heart) is roasted in subterranean fire pits before being fermented and distilled, imparting a certain smokiness to its flavour spectrum that likens it to peated Scotch. Except it’s much more nuanced than that. Depending on the type of agave used, it can taste floral, citrussy, fruity, sometimes leafy, making it a particularly wonderful sipping spirit – enjoyed neat or over ice. That said, it can also offer an interesting twist to cocktails. At Harrods, Baccarat Bar manager Cameron Attfield uses it in his Old Fashioned (pictured below), switching out the sugar for a charred pineapple sugar to further accentuate its complex flavours.

Mezcal drink in a glass

Rum Away With Me

The past few years have been transformative for rum. No longer reserved for cocktails, rums – especially aged expressions – are now competing in quality with brandy and single malt. Done right, they should never be cloyingly sweet. The best are nuanced and complex, demonstrating myriad tonalities, from smoky and savoury to richly spiced, depending on the barrels they were aged in. In short: you wouldn’t dream of drowning them in Coca-Cola. Instead, serve neat or with a splash of water to unlock the complex flavours.

The Art of Cognac

Cognac provides the rich elegance many of us look for in an evening tipple. Smooth and suave, it seems made for luxurious evenings spent in front of a crackling fire. While distillers such as Louis XIII, Hennesey and Rémy Martin have long dominated the market – for good reason – many smaller producers are starting to appear, creating aged cognac that can stand toe to toe with the very best. Not least Daniel Bouju’s family, which has been producing brandy since 1805, drawing on grapes from his estate in Grande Champagne. The Napoleon Grande Champagne Cognac, aged 15 years in new oak barrels, makes an especially delicious nightcap, especially sipped from a good brandy balloon.

Cognac in a glass being held by someone
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Barware lined up on a table

Do It Right

A nightcap is all about the moment. As your last drink of the evening, it should be set apart – by the quality of your spirit, yes, but also the heaviness of the expertly crafted decanter you pour it from and the exquisite glass from which you savour its complex flavours. For those crucial elements, we look to Waterford, LSA International, Villeroy & Boch and more.

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