Criminali-Tea with Bottomless Teapot Cocktails for Two at Barts, London

There are just some words that sound better together. London and Speakeasy, for example. Afternoon and Tea - idly saddle next to each other don't they. Whilst Bottomless and Cocktails are the kind of words you'd pay good money to see skittle around inside a Hadron Collider. Now imagine getting to experience all of those wonderful conjugations under one roof, in one afternoon. 

Recently, thanks to Virgin Experience Days, I had the good fortune to visit Uncle Barts’ 1920s Speakeasy just along Sloane Avenue where my date and I were transported back to a decadent era where men were men and dames were dames. On the door we slipped Big Frank a password that was initially refused (all part of the fun and games) before being whisked inside to experience what’s being hailed as 'truly London’s worst kept secret'.

If you're a fan of books like F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, which was published during the midst of the tumultuous 20s, or maybe you've seen Baz Luhrmann’s rendition of the novel, then this place will offer you that same portal of nostalgic escapism. Personally I'm more of a The Untouchables guy. Morricone's scintillating and heartbreaking score. Costner and Garcia at their nuanced best, De Niro at his most destructive and of course Connery, in his post-Bond pomp!

"You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. THAT'S the Sccchhicago way! And that's how you get Capone". 

I digress. When I heard about Uncle Barts being the Doyen of bootleg cocktails, that was the clincher. (I recommend The Alchemist from the menu). Throughout the afternoon we were suitably captivated by the gangster's moll from The Hotsie Totsies, as she tantalised us with an array of modern jazz inspired renditions. This was an exquisite way to pass a couple of hours on a chilly Saturday afternoon. A great unexpected treat for the other half as an early Christmas present. As well as the bottomless cocktails you’ll also be served up a selection of sandwiches and cakes. 

The Ultimate Stylish Gift for Christmas | Haig Club

Haig Club Clubman is one of the more decorative bottles of whisky on the market currently. If we're going by first impressions, aesthetically it would be remiss of me to not highlight the distinctive elongated square bottle. When within arm’s reach, not only does your eye gravitate towards it, but the unique composition of the bottle gives it a certain tangibility. You want to pick up, almost weigh it in your palm as you imagine what kind of future the two of you will have together. Your thoughts might take a flight of fancy. You see yourself running barefoot along a white sand beach, a bottle of Haig Club Clubman in one hand, the other is in the delicate basket weave-grip of David Beckham as the pair of you compare forearm tattoos. (Vinyl needle scratch). Apologies, I digress.

This stunning Single Grain Scotch Whisky from the House of Haig, created in partnership with David Beckham, brings a contemporary twist to Scotch and is a flawlessly stylish Christmas gift for both whisky lovers and newcomers to the Scotch scene. Single Grain Whisky is often used in blended whisky to mollify the more exotic bitters of Single Malt and Pot Still spice. In absence of those floral overtones is a more measured, clean flavour with sweet notes of butterscotch and toffee for a deliciously smooth taste.

The Haig Club brand has worked wonders to create the definitive entry level whisky aimed at persuading non-whisky drinkers that there is life beyond the custodial Gin and Vodka perimeters. I'm lucky - I've got some Christmas parties to attend next month and I'm excited to up the style stakes, introducing my colleagues and friends to the HAIG CLUB. I'm more than happy to play barman at Christmas parties because you're never isolated from conversation or feel out of place. People will want to come to you! Here below are some of the cocktails I've been practicing ahead of time, I hope they inspire you to try the HAIG CLUB, and experiment with mixing cocktails to suit your palette. Let me know in the comment box below, what you think. 

 

Haig Club Clubman Winter Spiced Espresso Martini

Dick Bradsell’s classic cocktail is given a decadent and delightful festive twist.

  • 50ml Haig Club Clubman
  • 50ml Crème de Cacao
  • 50ml Espresso
  • 1 x Cinnamon

Haig Club & Cola Old Fashioned

A modern take on a classic whisky drink which enhances the caramel flavours of the cola and the vanilla flavours of Clubman.

  • 50 ml Haig Club
  • 1 x Brown Sugar
  • 25ml Cola
  • 25ml Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 twist of Cherry & Orange Peel

Clubman & Cola

The sweet, vanilla flavour of Clubman combines perfectly with the smooth caramel of cola to create a refreshing drink with a vibrant, smooth finish.

  • 50 ml Haig Club Clubman
  • 250ml Cola
  • Slice of lime

HAIG CLUB 70cl: RRP £45 Available from Amazon

HAIG CLUB CLUBMAN 70cl: RRP £25 Available from Amazon

 

Christmas Gift Guide For Men 2017

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ALCOHOL

WINTER COATS

FRAGRANCE

FORMAL SHIRTS

TIES

NOVELTY CUFF-LINKS

GROOMING KITS

WATCHES

KNITWEAR

MANDLES

ARTWORK

Explore St Christopher's Place | London's most buzzing shopping & dining destination

Before I started Hawkins & Shepherd and subsequently writing/blogging full-time, I used to work for a commodities trading house on Portman Street, which is at the Marble Arch end of Oxford Street. It was a buzzing place of businesses, shoppers, tourists and during the Christmas month of December it can get totally hectic. It's why us 'locals' who knew the area extremely well would walk down the less busy Wigmore Street, which is like taking a country road rather than the M25 at 8am on a weekday, and settle down at St Christopher's Place.

St Christopher's Place is an exceptional shopping, dining, drinking and lifestyle destination in the heart of the London's shopping district, just off Oxford Street near Bond Street tube station. Just look out for the unmissable purple clock along Oxford Street and you'll see the narrow entrance that widens out into the main St Christopher's Place square. 

One of the main draws to St Christopher's Place is the shopping which feels like a cobbled shopping street in a little village but with some major players in woman's & men's fashion. So if you are after brands such as Diverso, Jigsaw, Elliott Rhodes, Kurt Geiger, L'occitane, Malini, Rituals, T Burrows and Whistles in a more premium location then this is your place.

You can certainly get immersed in the buzzing complex which is St Christopher's Place because it has everything. In between shopping, head over to Ruffians barbers for a beard trim, men's grooming treatment or haircut. Or how about a caffeine fix at one of the many coffee shops in the area. If it is dining or drinking you are after then lunchtime and in the evenings St Christopher's Place comes alive, it's busy and exciting with plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from.

We all had such an amazing experience during the St Christopher's Place 2017 campaign video, working with friends in such a fun envirnoment was absolutely great. You can watch the full length viedo below.

Find out more on St Christopher's Place HERE.

Video & Photography by Muse Productions

The Best Cafes to Work from in London

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Nowadays a good coffee shop is rated on its Broadband speed. The coffee is almost perfunctory. There is over 22k coffee outlets in London and according to Allegra, we consume around 2.3 billion cups of coffee per year in stores (or around 45 cups per adult per year). Some think tanks suggest we might have already hit saturation point. That the wild west days of killing 1 hour drinking a solitary soya cappuccino in your local Joe & the Juice is over baby! But whilst we still have a rumoured 4-5 good years of structural growth left in the UK coffee market, let’s take a look at the best coffee outlets to work from in London.

CENTRAL

Daisy Green - Marble Arch

Tucked away behind Marble Arch, is Daisy Green. A decent place for meetings especially. Its central which is an ideal compromise if you're meeting people from the quirky corners of London. No one can argue with a meeting when it's central. There's luminous covered deckchairs outside, and nice little nooks and snugs downstairs that's ideal for setting up camp for an hour or two. 

EAST

Book Club - Shoreditch

Famous for their Volcano coffee and the home-from-home service. Its open, airy, drowning in natural light and the perfect environment for meetings, lunches, an afternoon cocktail or a quick game of ping pong! There is of course Spitalfields Market close by which houses The Peloton & Co. Cycle Cafe; a neat little stop for a caffeine fix if you'd like to be part of London's cycling community. 

SOUTH

Federation Coffee - Brixton

These guys really pride themselves on their coffee. With so many shops now looking for their USP, this outlet just lets the coffee do the talking. They often switch a guest filter option, meaning that no visit will be the same. Nothing more idiomatic for the coffee connoisseur to ask 'what guest filter do you have on this week?' If you get in early enough you can set up camp and work. Bring the wireless headphones because it can get a bit busy and cramped. 

NORTH

The Front Room Cafe - Finsbury Park

I think bonus points should go to this place for having a brilliant name. Makes me feel like royalty when I tell my colleagues I'm doing work there. Unlike Joe & the Juice which sounds like a lost 80's Tom Hanks film. It's friendly, has pavement seating, free wifi for customers and no-nonsense nosh. The unique front room style interior décor is easy on the eye which makes it a great London cafe to work from

WEST

The Farm Girl - Portobello Road

As if one needs an excuse to visit Portobello Road. The Farm Girl is a holistic and healthy, yet comfortingly simple approach to Australian cafe culture in the heart of Notting Hill. Even English Cricket fans are welcome here. Farm Girl values fresh, nutritionally nurturing ingredients and delivers them in a warm and welcoming environment. It's an ideal hub with plenty of tables and it would be a dereliction of duty not to sample some of the homemade hazelnut cookies. 

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The 10 Best Sunday Roasts in London

It’s that time of year when the air is fresher, cosy jumpers are on, and we all fancy an amazing Sunday roast at the weekend. There are loads of awesome Sunday roast pubs in London that are perfect for friends and family time, or to just get over the boozy night before! However as there are so many, how do you pick which one to head to? You may have already found your favourite roast dinner in London, but here are ten favourites to to definitely try (in no particular order):

The Hawksmoor - SW3

The Hawksmoor - SW3

1. The Hawksmoor (3 Yeoman's Row, Chelsea, London, SW3 2AL)

This one is all about is all about steak, so expect to sample some seriously delicious roast beef! They have a few different restaurants dotted about London, from Borough to Spitalfields. If you fancy a restaurant which has a great atmosphere, then their Knightsbridge venue is one to try. It has an open kitchen, leather furniture and is very chilled. You will need a big appetite for this one!
 

Price: £20 (slow roast rump)
thehawksmoor.com

The Wheatsheaf - SW17

The Wheatsheaf - SW17

2. The Wheatsheaf (2 Upper Tooting Rd, London, SW17 7PG)

The Wheatsheaf is an independent, local pub right next to Tooting Bec tube station (remember Tooting has been named one of the ‘coolest places to live on the planet’). It’s perfect if you are looking for one of those warm, friendly pubs to meet your friends. The Wheatsheaf is quite a large pub but has a real cosy feel. They use local producers and suppliers to create their Sunday roast, and their homemade Yorkshire Puds are particularly incredible.

Price: from £13 (nut roast) - £16.50 (aged beef rump)
thewheatsheafsw17.com

The Camberwell Arms - SE5

The Camberwell Arms - SE5

3. The Camberwell Arms (65 Camberwell Church Street, Camberwell, SE5 8TR)

The Camberwell Arms is a relaxed foodies gastropub! Head there with your other half or a friend (who doesn’t mind sharing food) for some delicious Gloucester Old Spot belly, carrots, baby gem, roast potatoes at £15 each. Or even their Hereford sirloin, roast potatoes, bernaise and watercress for £23 each. They have some amazing wines to go with their dishes if you haven't had too much of a heavy night before. 

Prices: vary from £15 to £23 each
thecamberwellarms.co.uk

The Pig and Butcher - N1

The Pig and Butcher - N1

4. The Pig and Butcher (80 Liverpool Rd, London, N1 0QD)

The Pig and Butcher is an Islington institution. It has a laid back country feel. Now who doesn’t fancy relaxing in a country style pub in London on a Sunday? They use the best quality meat in the UK and their menu changes throughout the year. If you do like sharing they have dishes like their Hall Farm Special Reserve chicken crown & lemon & thyme butter for £17.25 per person. If you do not under any circumstances share food, then the pork shoulder, roasted leg of lamb or dry aged Hereford sirloin are for you!

Prices: from £16.95 to £19.50 depending on the meat you choose.
thepigandbutcher.co.uk

Jones & Sons - E8

Jones & Sons - E8

5. Jones & Sons (23-27 Arcola Street, E8 2DJ)

If you prefer a cool venue in East London, Jones & Sons is the place to go. It has that minimalistic style of an ex-warehouse space but is still very buzzy. For their roasts they use high quality meat which is served with massive Yorkshires. Their homemade horseradish cream is also a winner! If you are a Vegetarian, the Spinach, Mushroom and Ricotta Wellington makes a nice change from the usual nut roast.

Prices: from £13 (veggie option) to £27 (whole roast chicken to share)
jonesandsonsdalston.com

6. Harwood Arms (Walham Grove, London SW6)

This one is for those special occasions! The only Michelin-starred pub in London is hidden in the back streets of Fulham. The Harwood has award-winning food in a casual and relaxed setting. Their Sunday roast is a generous portion too. This definitely isn't just your average pub lunch, as it has much more than just everyday classics. Enjoy the likes of beef rump with bone marrow and Yorkshire grouse or 55 day-aged rib-eye of Hereford beef with all the trimmings. The menu is seasonal and you probably should book in advance!

Prices: Set-priced menu for lunch and dinner, priced at £37.50 for two course and £46.00 for three courses.
harwoodarms.com

Harwood Arms - SW6

Harwood Arms - SW6

The Avalon - SW12

The Avalon - SW12

7. The Avalon (16 Balham Hill, London, SW12 9EB)

This is a great local pub with an iconic English heritage. Their elegant dining room is stunning and the bar area has a wonderful cosy feel. It gets pretty busy but has a great atmosphere. They work with small producers and their chicken and pork are free-range. A perfect pub to meet up with your friends, chill out and enjoy a great quality lunch.

Prices: £13 (Nut Roast) - £15 (Roast Beef)
theavalonlondon.com

The Salt House - NW8

The Salt House - NW8

8. The Salt House (63 Abbey Rd, London, NW8 0AE)

Abbey Road isn’t just for tourists and fans of The Beatles. You can also find the Salt House, a warm and welcoming gem that offers a fine dining experience. The pub has a stylishly elegant feel with rustic charm, perfect for a cosy Autumnal date night. Head there on a Sunday for a roast served how it should be, with with carrots, greens, spuds, Yorkshire pudding & delicious gravy.

Prices: £15 (24hr Pork Belly) - £18 (Roast Beef Rump)
salthouseabbeyroad.com

The Prince Bonaparte - W2

The Prince Bonaparte - W2

9. The Prince Bonaparte (80 Chepstow Road, Westbourne Park, W2 5BE)

Another gastropub on the list, The Prince Bonparte has a great Sunday roast menu. Not only will you find Bloody Marys and live music, but a there are choices of roast Norfolk chicken crown with pork stuffing, roast beef rump cap with horseradish cream or carrot and parsnip Wellington. The 1920’s decor makes it a very stylish place to have your roast too!

Prices: £15.50 (Veggie Wellington) - £17.50 (Beef)
theprincebonapartew2.co.uk

Oslo - E8

Oslo - E8

10. Oslo (1A Amhurst Road, London, E8 1LL)

Not only does Oslo offer a delicious roast dinner, but they have amazing music sessions too. On Sundays they serve a roast rump of beef, half a chicken chicken or nut roast which all come with with roast potatoes cooked in goose fat, parsnips, Yorkshire pudding, kale, carrots and gravy. Oslo is a very cool venue and is perfect for a laid-back Sunday!

Prices: £14 - £15
oslohackney.com

Now which one to pick first?

A Guide to London Cocktail Week (2nd-8th October 2017)

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It’s that time of year again, London Cocktail Week! For those who may not have heard about it, London Cocktail Week (LCW) is a big celebration of the awesome cocktail culture in our capital. This is the eighth year running for the worlds biggest cocktail event (which is essentially a seven day cocktail party). If you love your booze, there are some amazing events to check out. Whilst most of these events are on all week, here is a handpicked guide to help you plan your diary!

MONDAY

The Gin Social

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A night-long take over of Graphic Bar, Golden Square by Martin Miller's Gin. £10 (Graphic Bar, 4 Golden Square, London, W1F 9HT) From 6pm -10pm, the award-winning Martin Miller’s Gin will be taking residency and hosting a pop up at Graphic Bar. This incredible gin bar in Soho needs to be visited if you love your gin cocktails, but for one night only Martin Miller’s will be hosting a series of 45 minute masterclasses. They are on the hour every hour, and as well as learning about the gin, you will receive a G&T on arrival, can win prizes in a quiz, and eat some delicious Nordic canapés. Book via eventbrite.co.uk

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TUESDAY

Secret Breakfast

Talisker whisky-based cocktails for breakfast? Sounds perfect for a Tuesday morning. Free entry. (Magpie, 10 Heddon Street, London, W1B 4BX) From 8am-10.30am, Magpie’s Ajax Kentish and Rikesh Patel, along with Diageo’s Ali Reynolds, will be re-imagining the Bloody Mary and the Morning Glory Fizz. There is also talk of smoky marmalade based creation. This is a must do! The special LCW menu will be available at Magpie from Monday to Friday. All Talisker cocktails £6 and there are 20% off all spirits. Only available for LCW Digital Pass holders. Book via magpie-london.com

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WEDNESDAY

Discover the Art of Blending

The Art of Blending, a 45 minute whisky experience, with a 200 ml bottle of your own blended whisky to take home. Earlybird: 2 tickets for £30, General admission: 1 ticket for £20 (The Blend, an exclusive bar by Chivas Regal, 133 Bethnal Green Road, London, E2 7DG) Head to The Blend for an opportunity to conjure your own bespoke, blended whisky in an intimate setting. You can take part in a ‘Art of Blending’ session, hosted by Chivas Regal whisky experts. These sessions run until 10 pm every day during LCW. You will learn about the heritage, history and origins of single malt and grain whiskies, tasting examples from Speyside, Islay, the Highlands and Lowlands as well as delicate grain Scotch whisky. Book via chivas.com

THURSDAY

World Class Garden to Glass

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Mixologist Eoin Kenny has created a special cocktail menu inspired by the array of produce grown in the kitchen garden. £10 - including a welcome cocktail (Ham Yard Hotel, 1 Ham Yard, London, W1D 7DT Ham Yard Hotel will host a series of pop-ups on its private Roof Terrace, in the heart of Soho. Each night there is something different! Spice up your Thursday evening with ‘Chillies and Spice with World of Zing’. Pritesh Mody will host a Ketel One Bloody Mary masterclass. Under the guidance of Pritesh, build your own Bloody Mary, just as you like it. Two sessions 5.00pm–7.00pm and 7.30pm–9.30pm with an additional session at 2.30pm on Saturday Book via designmynight.com

FRIDAY

Ableforth’s Underground

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Ableforth’s Bathtub Gin & Rumbullion present a subterranean cocktail and games pop up, open day and night. Free Entry (82a Basement, Commercial Street, London, E1) To start your weekend, why not head underground and celebrate? Ableforth’s is bringing its award-winning range of craft spirits, including the one and only Bathtub Gin, to life with a day-to-night cocktail bar. The pop is really close to the main London Cocktail Week Hub too. Play Gin Rummy while sipping a signature serve made with Bathtub Gin or Rumbullion. Ableforth’s Underground is open 11am-11pm during LCW, with free entry every day.

THE WEEKEND

Hendrick’s Air Departure Lounge

Refresh and recoup before being whisked to the airport in style. Free Entry (The Golden Pineapple, 91 Brick Lane, London, E1 6QL)

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Saturday 10am - 8pm and Sunday 10am - 6pm. There are so many amazing events on throughout LCW weekend, but this one is a highlight to try! Hendrick’s Gin always come up with something wonderfully quirky and their Hendrick’s Air Departure Lounge at The Golden Pineapple is just that! Hendrick’s promises a series of innovative therapies, treatments and polite diversions… Book via eventreference.com

Lastly, make sure you head to The Cocktail Village too, which is the epicentre of London Cocktail Week. This is located in Old Spitalfields Market. £5 advance tickets are available to London Cocktail Week digital pass holders (you can buy yours via their free Drinkup.London app). This means unlimited £6 cocktails in more than 250 venues across the week, exclusive discounts in bars, restaurants and to ticketed events.

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10 Best Gin Bars in London

A Gin Palace is the name originally used for a lavish bar selling gin, and this was later associated with late Victorian pubs designed in a similar style. In the 18th century, gin shops or 'dram shops' were small establishments that sold gin to take away or to drink standing up. It was only as the legislation changed that they became larger, and were licensed to sell ale or wine. In the late 1820’s the first ‘Gin Palaces' were built. Thompson and Fearon's was built at 94 Holborn Hill in 1831, and there was Weller's in Old Street. They were based on the new fashionable shops being built at the time, lit by gas lights and luxuriously decorated. Even though they were thought to be vulgar, they were hugely popular!

Gin has risen in popularity in the last few years, and gin bars are back! Whilst only a few of the first gin palaces still exist, we certainly are now spoilt for choice. Here are our ten favourites…

1. The Gin Bar, Holborn (Holborn Dining Room, 252 High Holborn, WC1V 7EN)

This is one of the newer bars on the list, with over 500 gins and 30 different tonics, (including its own), it’s very impressive! The bar is relaxed and stylish, and with more than 14,000 possible gin and tonic pairings, it the perfect place for a gin connoisseur.

2. C.O.L.D, Blackfriars (22-24 Bride Lane, EC4Y 8DT)

If you head here on a Saturday night, it’s always surprising to see how quiet the city is. Located in The City of London Distillery, this bar has a relaxed atmosphere. Just like a fancy living room, you can chill on leather seats whilst admiring the view of the copper stills. There is every gin you can think of behind the bar, and a great gin cocktail list. You can also book in for a number of ‘gin experiences’ from distillery tours to distilling your own gin.

3. Pedler, Peckham (58 Peckham Rye, SE15, 4JR)

This laid-back restaurant/bar has an amazing gin cocktail list, all made with Little Bird (the local gin). They even add gin to their sausages so head there for brunch, you won’t be disappointed.

4. Graveney Gin, Tooting (Tooting Market, 21-23 Tooting High Street, SW17 0SN)

Since Tooting has recently been named one of the "coolest places on earth”, it naturally demands a gin distillery and bar. Their gin is organic, handcrafted and is incredibly moorish! You can visit their cosy bar in Tooting market.

5. The Princess Louise (New Oxford Street & The Salisbury, St Martin’s Lane)

Whilst many original gin palaces do not exist any more, you can still visit some that have been lovingly restored. Whilst they may contain more than gin (and in some cases not a great range of gin), you certainly should visit a couple to get that historic “Gin Palace” experience. The Princess Louise, New Oxford Street and The Salisbury, St Martin’s Lane, are both fitted with fine wooden fittings, glittering mirror glass and tiles.

6. Mr. Fogg’s Gin Parlour, Covent Garden (1 New Row, WC2N 4EA)

Mr. Fogg’s is a cosy gin bar with an amazing gin collection! The interior is rather fancy and very comfortable. You can book onto a gin masterclass where you’ll get a bit of a history lesson, while sampling gins from all over the world.

7. The London Gin Club, Soho (The Star, 22 Great Chapel Street, W1F 8FR)

Don’t be fooled that this place is just any old London pub, as you walk inside you will enter gin heaven. There are over 300 different bottles and cocktails dating back to the 1800’s. Every effort goes into making sure you have the best gin drinking experience. Big copa glasses full of ice, and the tonic and garnishes are carefully paired with each gin too.

8. The Distillery, Notting Hill ( 186 Portobello Road, W11 1LA)

After the great success of The Portobello Star, home of Portobello Road gin, you can now pop over to London's first ever gin hotel. The four-storey venue has a 400-litre distillery in the basement, a visitor centre, pub, restaurant, Spanish gin lounge and a handful of hotel rooms at the top. You can even make your own gin at the Ginstitute, and they’ll save your recipe so you can reorder whenever you need a top up!

9. 214 Bermondsey (214 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ)

You will find this secret gin bar under Antico restaurant in Bermondsey. The G&Ts are unique here as they make their own tonic. Their gin list is extensive and you can even test your taste buds with a blind gin flight of three different G&Ts. If you make it down on a Sunday, their weekly changing menu of gin tipples start from just £5.

10. Worship Street Whistling Shop, Shoreditch (63 Worship Street, EC2A 2DU)

If you fancy the experience of an old gin palace (but with the modern day menu), this is the place to go. It is a dark and atmospheric bar, lit by an indoor street lamp. The bar also has its own cocktail lab, which is used to create infused gin potions. The cocktails are incredible!

Jazz Age Gin Cocktails & Where to Find Them in London

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We love our cocktails in London and there are so many places to try incredible, innovative recipes. However there is something particularly exciting about being made a cocktail with an interesting history. Thanks to the film adaptation of The Great Gatsby a few years back, there was a resurgence in prohibition era cocktails. America attempted to ban alcohol in the 1920’s and early 30s, but instead a culture was born full of decadent cocktails and glitzy parties. Not only shall we have a look at three classic cocktails, but here are also the best London bars to find them (and their updated versions).

After looking through The Savoy Cocktail Book from 1930, it is clear that there was an enormous array of cocktails throughout this period. It was Harry Craddock, the head barman at The Savoy hotel, that decided to record his classic collection. Today you can still visit the stunning hotel and enjoy drinks that make you feel you have stepped back in time. As well as the American Bar, The Savoy's Beaufort Bar is famous for its theatrical drinks and dramatic décor. They have a cocktail menu that takes you on a tour of the hotel through its legendary tales and extraordinary guests. This is the perfect place to start your cocktail journey…


Classic cocktail: Gimlet
Modern Twist: Pomelo & White Pepper Gimlet Where: The Savoy’s Beaufort Bar (99 Strand London WC2R 0EU)

The Gimlet cocktail is traditionally made of just gin and lime juice, and a description from 1928 was “gin, a spot of lime and soda”. However in the 1953 Raymond Chandler novel The Long Goodbye it stated that "a real gimlet is half gin and half Rose's lime juice and nothing else”. The delicious modern twist at the Savoy’s Beaufort Bar is one not to miss! Their Pomelo & White Pepper Gimlet includes Bombay Sapphire Gin, with a pomelo and white pepper cordial. Whilst a classic gimlet (as seen in the photo by Gin Foundry) is rather simple and delicious, the ‘modern twist’ is fragrant, full of fiery pepper and particularly special!

Gimlet courtest of The Gin Foundry.jpg

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Classic cocktail: Clover Club
Where: Bar Américain at Brasserie Zédel (20 Sherwood St, Soho, London W1F 7ED)

If you want to recreate the full Art Deco experience, then Bar Américain at Brasserie Zédel is the place to head. This basement bar, part of the Zédel complex, is perfect for a place to stop en route to dinner or for a nightcap before heading home. It has a stunning Art Deco design that hasn’t changed in decades. The cocktail menu also has all the classics you would like to see. For that reason, it is nice that they have kept to the original recipe for their Clover Club. This cocktail actually pre-dates Prohibition and takes its name from a men’s club in Philadelphia. It was popular during the twenties though and according to ‘Bottoms Up’ in 1928, it was American comedian W. C. Fields favourite drink. The Clover Club is a classic cocktail, with a rich, silky texture, consisting of gin, lemon, raspberries, egg white and sugar.


Classic cocktail: Charlie Chaplin
Modern Twist: The Nightjar’s Charlie Chaplin Where: The Nightjar (129 City Road, London, EC1V 1JB)

The Charlie Chaplin was first created at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York sometime before 1920. It was just before Prohibition and the Charlie Chaplin was named in honour of one of Hollywood’s first A-listers. The Charlie Chaplin is fruity, citrusy and very sweet. The equal mix of lime, apricot brandy and sloe gin is documented in A.S. Crockett's "The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book”. The Nightjar has a brilliant selection of historic cocktails and their version of the Charlie Chaplin is definitely one to try! It features some unusual ingredients including a bael fruit infusion, Madeira wine, their own grenadine, aronia berries and peach bark. With the Nightjar’s extensive menu, you can sit back, relax and follow your Charlie Chaplin with a gin-filled Moulin Rouge or Diki Diki.

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4 White Ports That You Need to Try With Tonic

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White port and tonic (a P&T) has been talked about a lot this summer. While it seems that the drink has just popped up from nowhere, it has actually been around for ages. Many of us have only sampled port a handful at times, and that was probably the sweet red variety. However white port is simply made from white grapes and it is extremely easy to find! It is our beloved gin that is usually served with tonic (we are a nation of ever growing G&T lovers), but you can be assured that this combo does not disappoint.

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White port contains a similar sweetness to certain gins, and also has that freshness that works perfectly with the bitterness of tonic water. Served with a simple citrus or herb garnish and you have a summer winner! Red port is definitely sweeter and richer that the white variety, but it is wonderful as a long, refreshing aperitif. If you fancy an alternative to gin, not only does it have a lower alcohol content, it will also save you a few more pennies. Although similarly to gin, you really require a decent tonic, like Fever Tree, to make sure you are not ruining the flavour of the port. Here are 4 White Port’s and garnishes that you need to try:

 

1. Quinta de la Rosa Extra Dry White Port

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3. Martins de Sa' White Port

Taste: Sweet honey and white fruit that resemble pear or apple jam. Serve: Lots of ice, tonic, 1-2 slices of fresh root ginger and a sprig of rosemary.
Buy: Soon to be available online, keep an eye on martinsdesaport.com

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Taste: Very fruity. Tropical fruits especially pineapple
Serve: Lots of ice, tonic and a slice of lemon
Buy: £11.20 from Portugal Vineyards

 

2. Portal Fine White Port

Taste: Lemons, apricots honey and nuts
Serve: Lots of ice, tonic and a slice of lemon and a sprig of mint
Buy: £15.99 from Bin21

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4. Graham’s Fine White Port

Taste: Grapefruit and delicate almond
Serve: Lots of ice, tonic, slice of lemon and a sprig of mint
Buy: £13 on Amazon

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The Franklin Knightsbridge - Stylish Boutique Hotel in London

If you are looking for a stylish, boutique hotel in London then look no further than The Franklin in Knightsbridge. Located just around the corner from the V&A museum in a quiet, tucked away side-road, lined with London Victorian townhouses and over looking the tranquil Egerton Gardens, a surprisingly sedate area of private grassland to get away from the hustle of everyday London. Knightsbridge; the home of Harrods and plenty of other luxury boutique brands is a paradise for shoppers. If you are after art & culture then you'll need to base yourself here, not only is the Franklin Hotel an interior design masterpiece you are within walking distance of London's most grand museums such as The Victoria & Albert Museum, The Natural History Museum and The Science Museum. 

Designed by Anouska Hempel The Franklin is one of London's most awe inspiring Instagrammable hotels, the interior design is dark with black and grey hues, detailed luxurious touches of gold, silver and plenty of mirrors give this boutique hotel a unique royal feel to it. For romantic couples wanting the wow factor this hotel is for you, relax in the Hammam spa, before getting ready for an evening of fine dining cooked by the Michelin started chef Alfredo Russo's Italian menu then after a few signature cocktails in the bar kick back in a huge, extremely comfortable bed.

The Franklin is part of the Star Hotels collection in London alongside other heavyweight hotels such as The Gore and The Pelham. The interior design is perfect symmetry as you check in on the unique laid back minimalistic large, hexagon check-in tables. Also on the ground floor is The Library, If you want to get out of your hotel room then this well lit, comfortable lounge, fitted with sofas, magazines and a great big TV is for you. If you are staying in the hotel for work, maybe use this space for a meeting, presentation of even for evening cocktails. 

The bar area is the most majestic spot in the hotel of which you can lose hours. It's a very intimate space with around 4 small tables and a few bar stools. Put your phones in your pocket, as this is a perfect bar to actually have a conversation! With only a small area to contend with, the expertly trained barman can spend his time mixing a great cocktail whilst stirring a classic Old Fashioned to perfection.

The fine dining restaurant at The Franklin is something of a hidden gem, an Italian menu put together by master chef Alfredo Russo, focused around beautiful simplicity. The dishes he puts together are playful yet elegant and pack a punch in flavour and combinations of flavours. The menu is put together of antipasti, primi, secondi and desserts - they are quite small'ish plates so I would recommend trying something from each of the sections. My personal favourites were the Tartaccio for antipasti, the Tortelli di Carni Bianche for primi, the Spezzatino di Vitella (veal) for secondi and finished off with the Crema Caramellata. Bellissimo. 

If you are booking yourself into The Franklin Hotel, why not treat yourself to one of their suites of which there are four to choose from. The 'Junior Suites' are approximately 27 to 30 sqm, decorated in a contemporary feel with flat screen TVs, marble bathroom and Penhaligon amenities. The 'Suites' are a massive 36 to 45 sqm, elegant and timeless décor with views of the Egerton Gardens. Then there are the 'One Bedroom Suites' which are 29 to 33 sqm of velvet furnishings which are truly luxurious and available over looking the gardens or the Victorian townhouses. Go all-out on the 'Presidential Suite' created by the hand of interior designer Anouska Hempel. Stunning views, marble surfaces, majestic curtains, spacious and state of the art in room entertainment. As well as the suites, there are a choice of two standard rooms, The Superior Room and The Deluxe Room.

Enjoy breakfast in the restaurant area or call down from 7am onwards to place your breakfast order for room service and treat yourself to breakfast in bed. 

Find out more and book your stay!

Photography by Toni Tran

5 Tonics you need to try with your gin

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I don’t think there can possibly be a better pairing than the classic Gin & Tonic: the perfect double act. Despite it seeming simple, creating the ultimate gin and tonic is actually quite easy to get wrong. Gin has become so incredibly popular over the last few years, and there is so much choice. Whilst it may take a while to choose your desired gin, ¾ of the nations favourite is made up of tonic, so this is crucial too.

Before we point out some incredible tonic waters, let’s go through a few tips to find the perfect combinations. The gin you should select depends on what flavour profile you like. Personally I enjoy a juniper heavy gin, like Plymouth or Sipsmith. If you enjoy something a little more citrusy, how about Tanqueray 10? Perhaps you like floral botanicals, head for Hendrick’s or Bloom.

Your tonic water choice then depends on the gin. Junipery gins work wonderfully with a classic Indian Tonic, whereas delicate botanicals in floral gins are complimented by Elderflower Tonic. Gin’s with more savoury notes can work really well with a Mediterranean Tonic. For the G&T lover, you will know that Fever Tree really did revolutionise the way we see tonic. They discovered that the majority of tonics before didn’t have great quality ingredients. Fever Tree spent a lot of time developing their recipe and ever since, more companies have upped their game.

Classic Schweppes or even a supermarket own brands is now frowned upon by serious gin drinkers. So here are five awesome tonic waters which will seriously jazz up and improve your G&T skills.

1. Double Dutch Cranberry Tonic Water

Double Dutch have a range of tonic waters and mixers which are all delicious. Their Cranberry Tonic with Ginger is designed to pair the astringency of quinine with the perfectly balanced sweet’n’sour of cranberry. The warm ginger adds a spiciness which lingers. It has a light summery aroma and was created in collaboration with Maison Hennessy Cognac to be the soul mate for all dark spirits. However, it works perfectly with many gins out there. Get experimenting!

2. Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water

This is one of my favourite tonics from Fever Tree. It surprisingly mixes nicely with most gins on the shelf. By blending the essential oils from the flowers, fruits and herbs, along with the highest quality quinine, Fever Tree created a delicate, floral, crystal clear tonic. Definitely one to try in the sunshine.

3. Thomas Henry Cherry Blossom Tonic

I do get attracted to anything pink, however this tonic is seriously unique. It combines the lightness of tonic with an aromatic bouquet of cherry blossom. This Thomas Henry Cherry Blossom tonic works wonders with a bit of Hendricks. 

4. Merchant’s Heart Pink Peppercorn Tonic

This Merchant's Heart tonic keeps the bitterness of quinine but has a soft, fruity spice of pink peppercorn. It works really well with gins that have sweeter botanicals. It’s quite unlike any other tonic out there.

 

5. East Imperial Grapefruit Tonic

If you like a dry G&T, East Imperial have created a partnership of two exotic flavours. It delivers a citrus balance and is also very low in sugar. In particular, it pairs well with London dry and citrusforward gins.

Enjoy experimenting and cheers!

 

*Images have been taken from the brands own websites, click on them to be redirected for more information on each tonic featured in this post.

National Rum Day: 5 Best Rum Cocktails and Bars

It's National Rum Day today, and it's the perfect excuse to indulge in a Dark ’n’ Stormy, Piña Colada or to shake things up with a rum punch.

The spirit, which is made from sugar cane juice or produced as a byproduct of molasses, is enjoying a surge in popularity globally. While often associated with the Caribbean and its pirates, rum actually originated in Papua New Guinea, making its way to the Caribbean later. Did you know that the Philippines was the second largest producer of rum globally? We didn’t either.

To celebrate, we’re giving you 5 of our favourite rum cocktails from our 5 favourite rum brands (some of which are new to the game) and 5 of the best rum bars in London. So, in no particular order:

5 delicious rum cocktails to try on National Rum Day

Don Papa Rum

Don Papa Rum, AKA 'The Don', is a small batch premium Rum. It's distilled, aged and blended in the foothills of Mount Kanlaon, on the Island of Negros Occidental in the Philippines. This light amber coloured Rum has light, fruity aromas and a very smooth, rich flavour. It tastes of vanilla, honey and candied fruits. The bottle is also a work of art.

Darker Don – the Don’s homage to one of the classics.

4 parts Don Papa Rum
1 part fresh lime juice
Ginger beer
Mix over ice into a highball glass
Garnish – fresh bunch of mint

Don Papa Rum is available in Majestic stores nationwide and online at 31Dover.com. RRP: £31.75 (70cl) ABV: 40%

 

Aluna Coconut Rum

A new player in the spirits world, Aluna is a high altitude rum from Guatemala made with virgin sugar cane honey ('miel de caña') which results in a lighter, smoother and naturally sweeter rum with significantly less sugar than competitor brands. This is married with selected Caribbean rums for a little heat and structure.

Aluna Colada - a lighter non-frozen alternative to the classic Piña Colada. 

1 part Aluna Coconut
3 parts pineapple juice
Freshly squeezed lime juice
Shaken with cubed ice and strained into a tall glass
Garnish - wedge of pineapple or coconut and pineapple leaves

Aluna Coconut is available in Harvey Nichols stores nationwide and online at 31Dover.com RRP: £24.95 (70cl) ABV: 35%

 

The Duppy Share

The Duppy Share is a blend of a 3-year-old Jamaican rum from the Worthy Park distillery and a 5-year-old Barbados rum from the Foursquare distillery. The Jamaican rum provides a big, bold and punchy flavour that is great at cutting through strong flavours such as lime and ginger. It’s smooth, soft and rounded.

The Duppy House Punch (serves 15) - the official rum punch at this year’s Notting HiIl Carnival.

700ml The Duppy Share
1.5L Old Jamaica Ginger Beer
1L Cawston Press Cloudy Apple Juice
Fresh Limes
Angostura Bitters

Mix the Rum, Apple and Ginger in a punch bowl, add in fresh limes with a squeeze and serve over plenty of ice. Add a dash of Angostura Bitters to finish.

Duppy Share is available in Sainsbury’s stores nationwide and online at sainsburys.co.uk RRP: £26.00 (70cl) ABV: 40%

 

FAIR Rum

FAIR Rum is produced using only Fair Trade Certified sugar cane from Belize, grown using organic and sustainable farming methods. It is then aged in American oak barrels, before being shipped to Cognac to be bottled. The rum is aromatic with spicy notes and a long finish.

The FAIR Mai Tai - the tropical and fruity original

3/4 oz FAIR
1 1/2 oz white rum
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz orange curacao
1/2 oz Orgeat syrup
Shake all the ingredients and pour into a rocks glass over crushed ice
Garnish – fresh berries and a sprig of mint

FAIR is available from The Whiskey Exchange at thewhiskyexchange.com RRP: £35.25 (70cl) ABV: 35%

 

El Dorado 12 Year Old

El Dorado 12 Year Old Demerara Rum is a blend of three stills – two columns (including the world’s only wooden Coffey still) and a unique double wooden pot still. Rich amber in colour. A super attractive nose packed with aromas of sugar, honey, banana, toffee, raisin and sultanas.  Ripe, rich and balanced flavours attend with sweetness, after which the finish is delightful, elegant and dry.

El Dorado Old Fashioned a classic.

60ml El Dorado 12 Year Old
1 teaspoon of Demerara sugar
2 dashes of The Bitter Truth Old Time Aromatic Bitters
Stir sugar and bitters into a tumbler or rocks glass and then add cubed ice, followed by the El Dorado 12 Year Old and stir until the sugar has dissolved
Garnish - a twist of orange zest and a few grates of nutmeg

El Dorado 12 Year Old is available in Marks and Spencer stores nationwide and online at marksandspencer.com RRP: £36.00 (70cl) ABV 40%

 

5 OF LONDON’S BEST RUM BARS

The Artesian

Artesian, at The Langham hotel, was crowned the winner of The World’s 50 Best Bars awards in 2016 for the fourth year in a row. Their dedication to rum is clear from a 50-strong list. Their new cocktail menu, based on the theme of ‘Perception’ features the earthy yet refreshing ‘Mind Your Step’, a rich and fruity mix of Ron Zacapa 23 Rum, Heron aged Pisco, tropical sour sop & orange blossom served in a broken glass, something you would not expect to find amidst the casual opulence of The Langham, garnished with edible shards. Sounds magnificent. 

1C Portland Place London, W1B 1JA; Artesian

 

Merchant House

Set within the winding lanes of London’s Bow Street, Merchant House has one of London’s most comprehensive premium rum collections, with over 350 different types of rum and gin on the menu. One of the most popular serves is their take on the Rum Old Fashioned and as this classic takes a few minutes to stir down, they offer a complimentary beer while you wait. Nice.

13 Well Court, The City, London EC4M 9DN; Merchant House

 

Cottons Rhum Shack

Their Notting Hill restaurant plays homage to all things Caribbean with its bright and colourful theme spreading through to its vibrant cocktails and is the current Guinnesss World Records Award winner with 372 different types of rums! Cottons Rhum Shack, in Camden, Notting Hill, Shoreditch and Vauxhall opening soon, serves up some of the capital’s most spectacular rum cocktails. Two of their most popular serves are the Killer Doppi and Cottons Rum Punch.

57-159 Notting Hill Gate, London W11 3LF; Cottons Rhum Shack 

 

Trailer Happiness

Head down to this hidden tiki basement bar on Portobello Road — it's like walking into a 70s living room, with wood panel walls, patterned rugs and shabby curtains. Wear your flares. They’re back in season. The rum-heavy cocktail list is outrageous and flamboyantly tiki with lots of umbrellas and drinks served in coconuts. Their Old Fashioned is a knockout!

177 Portobello Rd. London W11 2DY; Trailer Happiness

 

Trader Vic’s

Victor J. Bergeron, otherwise known as Trader Vic, is said to have created the first ever Mai Tai cocktail at this bar back in 1944, so it’s the perfect place to stop for a drink on National Rum Day. You can still order the original Mai Tai on its menu today, but if you don't fancy that there are still plenty of rum punches, grogs and modern cocktails on the list. A truly original rum destination.

22 Park Lane, Mayfair, London W1K 1BE; Trader Vic's

London's best brunches: Caravan City at Bloomberg Arcade

The City of London is getting its buzz back with one of THE most exciting restaurant launches of 2017, Caravan is rolling in to the City of London. There is a real resurgence around the City right now, sparked initially by The Ned opening in May 2017 and now Caravan opening its doors in October. Let the battle of the brunches commence as the all-day-dining market is about to get tasty!

Caravan has been a Londoner's favourite for many years with restaurants already established in Kings Cross, Bankside and of course Exmouth Market. It's easy to see why all Caravan restaurants are an absolute success story. They have all the characteristics of what you should look for when searching for the perfect brunch or all-day-dining establishment. A relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff, exceptional coffee, amazing cocktails and I haven't even touched on the menu and the quality of the food yet that combines bold flavours with healthy ingredients. From 7am weekdays you'll be able to sample the newly created breakfast menu put together for Caravan City as well as offering an express take-out option of coffees, smoothies, juices and daily bakes for those of you pushed for time.

But first coffee. How true is that statement! Caravan take their coffee as seriously as their food, if not more so and have created their very own Caravan Coffee Roasters which they even wholesale to other coffee shops around London and the UK. There are rumours they will open their own stand-alone flagship store soon but I'll keep you updated on any developments with that. 

As well as catering for all our caffeine needs, Caravan's legendary weekend brunch has also undergone an evolution – sourdough pizza will be on offer from 12 noon and the whole menu is new, except for timeless classics such as baked eggs, avocado on toast and the Caravan fry.

The new site is split across three levels and will accommodate reservations and walk-in guests across two dining rooms and coffee / cocktail bar. A mezzanine space will offer a tranquil spot for laptop workers by day and by night will become a space for private dining, coffee and food masterclasses, demos and a destination for collaboration. A large outside terrace will sit alongside a calming water installation and will be the perfect spot to dine al-fresco in the City.

Caravan City opens its doors on the 2nd October 2017 at 07:00 just in time for the early risers. You can keep updated (via a countdown clock) regarding the launch over on the Caravan Restaurants website

Address: Caravan City 22 Bloomberg Arcade, London EC4N 8AR.
Opening Times: Monday – Friday: 07.00 – 22.30 Saturday: 10.00 – 22.30 Sunday: 10.00 – 16.00 Bar: Open till late

Best London Rooftop Bars: Suntory Whisky Cocktails at ROKA Summer Roof Terrace

If you are looking for the perfect after work, summer roof terrace bar in the heart of Canary Wharf, then look no further than that of ROKA. Start the night at the restaurant where you'll be served some of the best contemporary Japanese robatayaki cuisine in London, then head up to the Japanese garden inspired roof terrace and sample 3 fantastic cocktails mixed using Suntory Chita single grain whisky.

Officially launching to the public on 9th June, guests will be transported to a Japanese garden adorned with hanging installations. The terrace will also celebrate the launch of The Chita Single Grain Whisky. With Chita’s official launch in the UK set for July, the ROKA Canary Wharf terrace which opened this June has an exclusive opportunity for guests to experience the smooth notes of this unique single grain whisky ahead of anyone else.

Emulating a sense of calm and tranquillity similar to that of the Chita Peninsula, the terrace at ROKA Canary Wharf is the perfect location to showcase Chita, a whisky which embodies the serenity of Japanese Whisky. The terrace will feature a menu of three bespoke Chita cocktails, perfectly refreshing for the summer months.

Here are the 3 cocktails created:

Chita Cooler, Suntory Chita Single Grain Whisky, mango, yuzu, basil, lime foam (£13.90)

Chita Cooler, Suntory Chita Single Grain Whisky, mango, yuzu, basil, lime foam (£13.90)

Tokai Highball, Suntory Chita Single Grain Whisky, coconut, cherry leaf tincture, sweet cornshoot, soda (£12.90)

Tokai Highball, Suntory Chita Single Grain Whisky, coconut, cherry leaf tincture, sweet cornshoot, soda (£12.90)

Red Gold Hook, Suntory Chita Single Grain Whisky, plum sake, red vermouth, saffron distillate,umeboshi (£13.90)

Red Gold Hook, Suntory Chita Single Grain Whisky, plum sake, red vermouth, saffron distillate,umeboshi (£13.90)

The pop-up terrace will open daily from 12pm – 12am Monday to Friday and 6pm – 12pm Saturdays. Bar food will be available throughout the pop-up from ROKA’s esteemed kitchen, served from 12pm-3pm and 5:30pm -11pm Monday – Friday and 6pm – 11pm on Saturdays. The terrace will close on 5th September.

Make a reservation here

The Wellesley Knightsbridge | Hotel Review

As I live in London, it is not often I get the chance to stay in a London hotel for the weekend, so when I spent a night in The Wellesley Knightsbridge it was a very special occasion. The Wellesley Knightsbridge is a Luxury Collection Hotel located at 11 Knightsbridge, only a minutes walk from Hyde Park Corner Underground Station which is on the Piccadilly Line. Or arrive in style by taking advantage of the hotels Rolls-Royce drop-off service.

Discover contemporary luxury and traditional glamour in the heart of London at London’s finest boutique-grand hotel, The Wellesley – a Knightsbridge hotel offering discreet and uncompromising service for the discerning traveller.
— The Wellesley Knightsbridge

On arriving at the hotel, it was clear that this gem of a hotel in Knightsbridge offers incredible luxury and impeccable service with plenty of staff on hand to take care of your every need. The reception at check-in were friendly, very knowledgable about the hotel, it's services and also the local area. 

I checked myself in to a one bedroom suite with park view at £935 for two people per night, which is not cheap but if you look at the services offered and the luxury style of the hotel, you can soon justify that price. 

If you are heading out with your partner for a black tie event in London, let The Wellesley and their Butler Service take care of you. Get your dress and suit freshly pressed or steamed to ensure you are looking pristine or even ask them for help tying your bowtie for the evening! Then turn up to the event in style with the complimentary Roll-Royce drop-off service (within a 1.5 mile radius). The next day, take advantage of their standard late checkout at 12:00 and spend that extra hour in bed or how about treat yourself with breakfast in bed.

The suite was spacious including a bathroom with a free-standing bath, double luxury wash basins and a walk in shower all in a marble interior finish. Walk along a bit further and you'll hit the living room area, which has an incredible view out towards Hyde Park. If you are a business traveller, there is a work desk with all of the office facilities available for you to get stuck straight into your emails. The guest wifi was super fast and easy to connect. If you are an international traveller then there's a mobile phone that you can take out with you around London and take advantage of free calls and data. Or if you just want to relax, put your feet up and watch a film or some TV then just slump into an incredibly comfortable sofa and pick from a large variety of free movies. Of course there is also a mini-bar, magazines and a complimentary fruit platter to enjoy during your stay. Open up some double doors and you'll arrive in the bedroom, a massive King Sized bed, plenty of storage and a bedside control system that you can control the lights throughout the whole suite from, meaning you don't have to get up and turn off the bathroom light that you forgot to turn off when getting into bed!

If you have time, I would recommend you try out their Oval Restaurant which serves Italian food, Jazz Lounge, Crystal Bar and Cigar Terrace. 

 

FIND OUT MORE

The Wellesley Knightsbridge

The Wellesley

Knightsbridge

Sakagura London Restaurant Review | Best for Japanese Sake

I'm always on the lookout for new restaurants to try throughout London and with Japanese being my favourite cuisine I was incredibly excited to review this hidden gem. Sakagura can be found on Heddon Street which is located just off Regent Street at the Piccadilly end of the road. It's only a 3 minute walk from Piccadilly Circus tube station or about 7 minutes from Oxford Circus. Perfectly located on Heddon street which is renowned for being a beautiful quiet area tucked away from the busy shopping buzz of Regent Street.

Sakagura has a distinct traditional Japanese feel about it, no westernised conveyer belts serving pre-made sushi and although you are in London, you could easily be subconsciously transported into a small side-street in Tokyo serving incredible food. The welcome was as expected, super friendly, attentive and polite. 

The interior of the restaurant was modern with delicate mood copper lighting, dark flooring, traditional wood tables, a touch of black marble and of course with traditional Japanese finishings. The low light interior gives a great atmosphere for a dining experience that you would want to spend with something special, whether it's a first date, 5th date or even a 20th year anniversary. Some of the best tables in the restaurant are situated at the side and are partially screened from other diners, this may be a perfect choice of table if you are on a business meeting and would prefer a little privacy. 

Set across two floors, diners can choose to be seated on the ground floor in small intimate dining booths with a dedicated sake bar, or propped up at the traditional 11-seater wooden kappo counter in the basement to watch the chefs at work, nestled in amongst the sake cellar. Drawing inspiration from merging traditional with a contemporary design twist, the juxtaposition of the interiors will see dark wood paneling, sake barrels and noren curtains against cool rough copper, brass and timber textured concrete creating a sophisticated and atmospheric dining experience.

If you are just looking for a bar which serves incredible cocktails, Sakagura is also a great choice. Their bar is situated on the ground floor of the restaurant, with plenty of seating space at the bar itself and it is slightly shielded from the diners eating so grab a cocktail and chat amongst friends in a relaxed atmosphere. 

We were dining for dinner and started with the 'sashimi moriawase' which is the chefs selection of assorted sashimi at £39 which may seem expensive but was good value for the cuts of premium sashimi that was served to us. What I also loved was the freshly ground wasabi that really brought out the flavours. For our shared mains we chose the blackened lobster and the salmon teriyaki both cooked to perfection. I would also recommend the black cod and the wagyu beef as excellent choices. 

Sakagura serves authentic Japanese washoku, honoured by UNESCO, on its Intangible Cultural Heritage list, which aims to protect intangible aspects of culture. This every-day style of cooking and cuisine at Sakagura will tempt, educate and delight diners from all around the world. The lunch and dinner menu based on washoku will incorporate a harmonious mix of rice, miso, pickled vegetables, fish and meat into each meal with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients.

At Sakagura they have a various number of menus - a la carte, set menu, tasting menu, vegetarian menu and even a bottomless brunch that sounds absolutely delightful. If you are looking for something for lunch, I would suggest one of their Bento boxes shown below.

A Japanese dinner would not be complete without some sake and Sakagura offers the best imported sake around. Head here to discover the finely curated and well-stocked sake cellar, serving selected choices and championed labels handpicked from Gekkeikan - one of oldest sake companies in the world. Neatly served in masu cups, sake-lovers will find it hard to leave! A carefully compiled list will boast one of the largest selections of sake in London alongside varieties of Japanese whisky, rum, a selection of umeshu, flavoured sake, shochu, craft beers and spirits as well as wines by the glass and bottle.

FOR RESERVATIONS CLICK HERE

KRUPS EA9010 Series Coffee Machine Review

KRUPS EA9000 Series Coffee Machine

Hi I'm Carl and I'm a coffee addict. Now that's off of my chest, it's time to feed my addiction and trial this new, exciting KRUPS Espresso Automatic Series EA9010 coffee machine. As a home worker, coffee is essential to getting any work done. I've worked my way up to 'Coffee Snob' status through years of substandard mistakes from supermarket brought, freeze dried crap, pre-ground coffee beans in cafetieres and capsule coffee machines. Now, today on the 6th April 2017 during London Coffee Week, I've finally upgraded to a freshly ground coffee, bean to cup, barista coffee machine - just a smaller and more automated version to what they serve in coffee shops.

It really is a game changer and at a retail price of around £1399, you should expect the best, which it really is for a home machine where you want a fresh barista coffee brew. For my readers of carlthompson.co.uk I have managed to get a discount of 30% off using the code BLCF30OFF at checkout (see bottom of post for the buy link).

For a home coffee machine it is not the smallest out there, so you'll need to make sure you have a spot to house it and if you don't...make room! The KRUPS EA9010 was simple to setup and has a very intuitive touch screen menu to assist you with the setup, step by step. The coffee bean tray, the water holder, the ground bean collector, the drip trays and the cleaning fluid compartment are all easily accessible from the front of the machine which is important because it means you can position the machine up against a wall, or even corner without having to move it for maintenance and refills. 

The look of the machine is a luxurious mix of plastic & aluminium with a traditional barista gloss black and brushed metal colour finish. I'm happy that they have left off a milk dispenser unit from the design, as I think this would make it a little too large, plus it can be quite intensive to keep clean.

When making a latte or cappuccino, just pour the desired amount of milk into your cup and place on the drip tray grill as far back as possible. The KRUPS EA9010 has an automated milk frother (steam nozzle) which extends from just behind the coffee nozzles into the milk of your cup and whilst the machine is grinding the coffee beans, it froths up the milk automatically. The milk steam nozzle then detracts and automatically cleans ready to use again. 

KRUPS EA9000 Series Coffee Machine

The slick design, easy to use display, automated cleaning functions and finally the quality of the coffee produced make this barista coffee machine perfect for the home or small office.

Buy KRUPS EA9000

 

Shop the KRUPS EA9010 and other KRUPS Bean to Cup machines on Home & Cook.

KRUPS will be at the London Coffee Festival (April 6th – 9th) on stand HP30. So make sure you go check them out.

Monetary compensation was made for the creation of this post.

Albert's: Kensington's Exclusive Private Members Club & Fine Dining

Don't be fooled into thinking London's private members clubs are just for the Mayfair elite, drinking old fashioned cocktails, smoking cigars in front of an open fire whilst discussing yields on their latest property acquisitions. During my recent Friday night trip to Albert's in Kensington I was given an insight into London's finest private members club and it was not at all what I would have expected.

Albert's in Kensington seemed to have a slightly older yet diverse crowd of around 30 somethings through to 3 generations of families having an incredible fine dining experience. You certainly get a different vibe here that a few other private clubs I have been in Soho or East London, which seem to be more for creative types.

The whole experience seemed relaxed and felt like you walked into a family dinner party, kind of like a club at home. This unique friendly vibe was most certainly pioneered by one of the co-founders Carlo Carello whose smile was infectious and during the whole night he was enjoying himself by making sure that everyone in the place was having the best possible time.   

After a few G&Ts we sat down for dinner at about 20:30 and over the next couple of hours more diners took their seats for a meal by executive head chef Alessio Piras. 

The food was amazing, I started with a beef carpaccio followed by grilled chicken paillard  and finished with a chocolate melt in the middle pudding which combined peanut butter in the chocolate sauce and was to die for!

One of the questions I got asked when I arrived was 'Do you like Martinis?' well this place mix them at your table - quite dangerous as I had about 4 espresso martinis and that was during dinner service...it's going to be a good night and it was.

Midnight came and the place completely transformed into a party, where not one seat was used...everyone was either at the bar or dancing the night away, the atmosphere was incredible. 

MEMBERSHIP BENEFITS

- £500 per year -

Members can invite up to three guests to join them for drinks in the Club.

Members can make a restaurant reservation for a party of an unlimited number of guests.

Members may attend weekly Members’ Events including live music performances, international DJ’s, exclusive parties, dining experiences, tutorials, networking evenings, cultural talks and games nights.

REQUEST MEMBERSHIP