Category Archives: Bars

Drink at London’s best bars under one roof at Cocktails In The City

© Maya Jancar (B&H Group)

Drink at London’s top bars under one roof at Cocktails In The City
© Maya Jancar (B&H Group)

It’s that time of year again as the UK’s biggest cocktail celebration returns to the capital this month. The spring edition of Cocktails In The City brings some of the best drinking hotspots to you. Setting up camp at the stunning surrounds of One Marylebone, Londoners can go on a bar crawl under one roof.

© Maya Jancar (B&H Group)

Be open to experimenting
© Maya Jancar (B&H Group)

Twenty-five of the world’s top bars will be hosting pop-ups from 30 March – 1 April in the Georgian venue’s Grand Hall. Among those representing will be The Artesian (four-time winner of World’s Best Bar), concealed hotspots London Cocktail Club and Reverend JW Simpson, speakeasies Barts and The Lucky Pig and hotel classics Trader Vic’s and The Blue Bar, serving their signature drinks and experimental new creations.

Meanwhile, jetting in from Europe will be Berlin’s Schwein Bar, Stockholm’s Linje Tio, Oslo’s Himkok and Copenhagen’s Ruby. The Nordic bars will be teaming up with Woodford Reserve to create the ‘Hygge’ drinking experience with their pop-up bars nestled together on the cosy 2nd floor.

Cocktail fans will also have the chance to blend their own bespoke gin with London micro-distillery Sacred in the enchanted garden, mix their own concotions with some of the capital’s finest mixologists and learn how to create the ultimate Rum Punch with The Duppy Share.

Other bars taking part include 100 Hoxton, 214 Bermondsey, Burlock, Cahoots, Disrepute, Gaucho, Hush, The Four Sisters Townhouse and Three Six Six.

  • Cocktails In The City takes place from 30 March – 1 April 2017 at One Mayfair, 13A North Audley Street, Mayfair, W1K 6ZA. Nearest station: Bond Street or Marble Arch. Ticket: £15 includes 1 cocktail. For more information and booking, visit the Cocktails In The City website.

For a guide to what else is on in March, click here.

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Boozy sweets, garnish-your-own cocktails and make edible perfume at The Flavour Rooms, Carnaby

© Smith & Sinclair

The Flavour Room pop-up shop and bar serves cocktails, edible alcohol and gives you the chance to create your own edible perfume
© Smith & Sinclair

Following on from their success of The Flavour Rooms at the Sanderson Hotel and Bluewater last year, flavour pioneers Smith & Sinclair are back with a new sensory, taste experience for adventurous Londoners. Launching in Soho this March will be an exciting new pop-up cocktail bar with a twist.

© Smith & Sinclair 2015

Down the hatch! Try Smith & Sinclair’s trademark cocktail pastilles

Smith & Sinclair are teaming up with Tanqueray London Dry Gin to launch the Tanqueray Experimental Garnish Bar. The menu will feature a bespoke collection of four Tanqueray cocktails which drinkers are invited to get creative with and experiment with their own edible garnishes, such as edible perfumes, gin oils and spherification balls that pop in the mouth. Guests are encouraged to reserve a spot at the bar in advance at £12pp, which includes a Smith & Sinclair edible cocktail, a Tanqueray cocktail and a range of garnishes.

For those in a really creative mood, you can head to the edible perfume workshop to make your own scents to smell… and taste. You’ll be taken on a journey through the history of fragrance along with tastings, before the opportunity to create your own bottle. Sessions start from £35pp and can be booked in advance.

Meanwhile, in addition to the bar and perfume workshops, Smith & Sinclair’s range of boozy sweet treats, including its signature cocktail pastilles, alcoholic bubbles, cocktail-infused vapours, alcoholic dib dabs and more will be available to buy.

  • The Flavour Room, Carnaby will be open from 3 March – 2 April 2017 at 8 Ganton Street, Soho, W1F 7QP. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. Opening times: Shop – Mon-Sun 10am-7pm. Bar (over 18s only): Wed-Sat 10am-12am. For more information, visit the Flavour Room website. For tickets for the Smith & Sinclair and Tanqueray Experimental Garnish Bar, visit this DesignMyNight link, or for tickets to the Smith & Sinclair Edible Perfume Experience, visit this link.

For a guide to what else is on in London in March, click here.

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Pitch Black review: Put your taste buds to the test at a drinking in the dark experience

© Baker & Balfour

Explore your senses and put your taste buds to the test at Pitch Black blind cocktail and wine tasting
© Baker & Balfour

Anyone who follows my Instagram account will know I’m quite the cocktail connoisseur. Despite having my favourites (yes Mojito, I’m talking about you!), I usually opt to try as many new concoctions as possible to widen my booze palate so to speak. However, my extensive experience of downing alcoholic creations meant I wasn’t so good at recognising some at a recent special event.

For Valentine’s Day last week, I was treated to a visit to Pitch Black – a new blind tasting experience. Pitch Black was a pop-up in Shoreditch in late 2016 before moving to its current base, the Sixties-themed No Such Place events space in Covent Garden. I wasn’t given any information about the evening beforehand, so had no idea what to expect. After arriving at the basement venue – which had a very Mad Men vibe – we were treated to a welcome glass of Prosecco to ease into the evening. At this point the lights were on, so be rest assured, the night doesn’t start with you suddenly being plunged into darkness.

Following the bubbles, we went into a cosy room for the main part of the evening – the blind cocktail and wine tasting. Our host for the evening was Dom, an experienced and enthusiastic bar veteran with plenty of knowledge and banter. Although admittedly apprehensive when I found out it was in the dark, Dom soon set our minds at ease so it wasn’t long before I was intrigued and ready for the challenge. When the lights went off, we handily have glow-in-the-dark coasters in front of us so we can easily find our drinks. We started on the first cocktail served in a lowball, smelling it first before sampling the liquid inside. As a group we were invited to discuss what smells and tastes we were experiencing, which soon showcased just how different our senses were given the wide variety of answers.

Before moving on to wine after the sweetness of the cocktails, we were given an amuse bouche each to cleanse the palate, ready for the stark difference in texture and flavour of the wines. The first wine was a white one which I was convinced was a Chilean Chenin Blanc (I was wrong). After the tasting, the lights were turned on (gently!) and we were given the results of the tasting tests. Turns out, many of us were pretty incorrect on the main ingredients of the cocktails, as well as the identity and origin of the white, but a couple of people correctly guessed the red.

Overall, it was a fun and interesting experience. Living in London, we’re such a rush, we don’t often take the time to fully savour the smells and flavour of the food and drink we’re consuming. By restricting our vision, we were able to focus on the taste and it really brought a new dimension to drinking. If you’re looking for a night out with a difference, it’s well worth checking out.

  • Pitch Black @ No Such Place, 68A Neal Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9PA. Nearest station: Covent Garden. Advance bookings only for 90 minute experience. Tickets include bubbles on arrival, two cocktails, an amuse bouche and two wines. For more information, visit the Pitch Black website.

For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.

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Enjoy a slice of Alpine fun at the Vauxhall Winter Vilage

Vauxhall Winter Village

Enjoy a night on the piste at the Vauxhall Winter Village

Fancy a bit of Alpine action, but can’t get to the slopes? Well, the Vauxhall Winter Village is bringing some winter fun to the capital. Following their November-December opening before the Christmas and New Year break, the Village is reopening for business from 19 January 2017.

The Vauxhall Winter Village is presented by the team behind Vauxhall Street Food Garden and offers weekday lunchtime and evening venue for eating, drinking and socialising. Located just moments from Vauxhall station, the pop-up alpine ski village features plenty to keep you entertained, including a Retro Ski Wear with Cable Car Photo Booth, bookable alpine cabin booths and Winter Sports Bar screening the latest sports.

For those feeling peckish, there is a host of street food stalls, including Valcie Flavours jerk shack, City Burger, Win & Lilly’s Oriental Foods, Country Kitchen and Souper Soups and special weekly foodie pop-ups on Fridays. Meanwhile, drinkers can head to the Smirnoff pop-up bar, serving Hot Pimm’s Winter Cider, Festive Glühwein or Mulled Cider, together with spiced drinks; beer, wine, spirits and champagne. There is also the Red Bull Winter Lodge serving Red Bull cocktails while showing Red Bull TV. With the temperatures biting outside, the Winter Village is fully undercover with heating and lighting to give a cosy and relaxed atmosphere with plenty of dining areas to sit.

  • Vauxhall Winter Village is open from 19 January 2017 on Monday to Fridays only from 11.30am-10pm. Free entry. Vauxhall Winter Village, South Lambeth Place, Vauxhall, SW8 1SP. Nearest station: Vauxhall. For more information, visit the Vauxhall Winter Village website or the Facebook page.

To find out what else is on in London in February, click here.

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Beyond The Waterfall review: Travel to another world in a surreal cocktail experience

© Marcus Peel

Beyond The Waterfall is a surreal experience, combining entertainment, cocktails and fantasy
© Marcus Peel

Many of you have probably heard of Bompas & Parr, the food and drink wizards who have created a series of sensory, taste experiences. I visited their Alcoholic Architecture – a room full of inhalable alcohol in Borough Market earlier this year and was looking forward to visiting subsequent projects. When I heard about their special Christmas experience – Beyond The Waterfall – I knew it was right up my street. It combines an immersive theatrical experience and cocktails so I was eager to take part.

This week, I was fortunate enough to be invited to their special preview night. Beyond The Waterfall is located in the plush The Village area of Westfield London – surrounded by designer shops. The fact they have managed to turn what I presume was a standard retail unit into a magical land is pretty impressive. Standing outside the front door, we were treated to a glimpse of what to expect as we peered through the windows to see the gloomy and misty lagoon. Upon entering, we were greeted by who I would describe as glamorous nautical advisers, giving us warnings of what to expect and tokens to exchange later for fantastical concoctions.

The first part of the journey was across a 20 metre lagoon – yes, they have actually created a huge water feature in a shopping centre. We boarded small, individual boats and made our way up the lagoon – with varying degrees of success in terms of speed and direction, depending on your paddling skills! Fortunately, there are strategically placed seafarers along the way to guide or push you in the right direction – which is ultimately ‘beyond the waterfall’. Don’t worry, you won’t get wet (unless you want to!), as waterproof ponchos and a large umbrella for the actual waterfall part are provided.

Beyond The Waterfall © Marcus Peel

Journey through a lagoon and Beyond The Waterfall
© Marcus Peel

A quick pit stop with a wise man gives you an insight into the faraway world you have travelled to and the chance to show off your drinking skills as you down your first cocktail – an interesting brown liquid in a bottle. Finally, we ended up in the hidden cavern – a mythical cocktail bar staffed by mermen and the very fabulous host Ruby. After being greeted with some welcome punch, we settled down to peruse the menu and mingle with the mermen, who entertained us with their various talents. The cocktail menu has been inspired by the sea and features unusual ingredients such as undersea botanicals, real gunpowder and rare ambergris. I ended up enjoying a Shipwreck Sour (Shipwreck cider brandy, Coral Calvados, Creme de Peche, lemon juice, shipwreck bitters and egg white), which was frothy and sweet.

Overall, we had a really fun experience. My friend and I embraced the spirit of the event and enjoyed the various flavours of alcohol we tried. The staff and entertainers we encountered along the way certainly brought a sense of adventure and theatrics so we felt a world away from the bustling shops of Westfield outside. The event has been so popular, further dates are likely to get added, so I really recommend keeping an eye out for more tickets.

  • Beyond The Waterfall runs from 9 – 23 December 2016. At The Village, Westfield London, Ariel Way, White City, W12 7GF. Nearest station: Shepherd’s Bush, White City or Shepherd’s Bush Market. Open 4-10pm. Tickets are time-slotted and last 60 minutes. Tickets: £15 (includes 2 drink tokens). For tickets, visit Westfield London website.

For a guide to what else is on in London in December, click here.

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Cheers to Christmas! Where to sip London’s sweetest cocktails this festive season

An 'Apres-Ski Sharer' cocktail at Piste pop-up at Archer Street

An ‘Apres-Ski Sharer’ cocktail at Piste pop-up at Archer Street

In the run up to Christmas, it’s the busiest time in most Londoners’ social calendars. No doubt many friends will be meeting for a cocktail (or three) in one of the capital’s various bars. With so many venues, we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to places to drink. However, if you’re looking for something extra festive, why not sip on a Christmas-themed cocktail?

Here’s Metro Girl’s round-up of the top Christmas cocktails on offer in London this 2016 season:

  • Aquum

Clapham’s late night destination has recently had a more food-focused makeover. For December, they’ve given the beloved Espresso Martini a Christmas twist – the ‘Vanilla Espression’ (£9) including Cariel Vanilla Vodka, Tia Maria, Espresso and Sugar Syrup).

Aquum, 68-70 Clapham High Street, Clapham, SW4 7UL. Nearest stations: Clapham North, Clapham High Street or Clapham Common. For Metro Girl’s review of Aquum, click here. 

  • Cahoots

For a night out with a difference, head to Soho’s secret drinking den Cahoots, which recreates post-WW2 London in a ‘tube station’. The drinks menu is heavily influenced by wartime tipples. Their festive offering is ‘The Stocking Stuffer’ (Christmas spiced Bombay sapphire, signature almond mince pie sweet mix, sultana grapes infused with Martini Rosso, pink grapefruit, topped up with Bulmers pressed red grapes cider).

Cahoots, 13 Kingly Court, Soho, W1B 5PW. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For Metro Girl’s review of Cahoots, click here.

© Cahoots

‘The Stocking Stuffer’ at 1940s-themed basement bar Cahoots

  • Dirty Bones

American diner Dirty Bones have created a sweet festive concoction – ‘Mince Pie Bramble’ (Bombay Sapphire gin, lemon juice, brandy and port-infused mince pie reduction (£8).

Dirty Bones – branches in Kensington Church Street, Carnaby Street and Club Row, Shoreditch. Nearest stations: High Street Kensington, Oxford Circus or Shoreditch High Street. For Metro Girl’s review of Dirty Bones, click here. Read the rest of this entry

Beyond The Waterfall: Take a boat trip to a magical cocktail bar at Westfield London this Christmas

Beyond The Waterfall Bompas Parr Westfield by Addie Chinn
At shopping malls across the country, it can feel like the kids are getting all the fun with their visits to Santa’s Grotto. However, this December, food and drink wizards Bompas & Parr are creating a festive experience for grown-ups.

Beyond The Waterfall is an immersive and multi-sensory Christmas adventure at The Village in Westfield London. Shoppers will be taken whisked across an undersea lagoon to a mysterious island, with mythical creatures staffing a cocktail bar.

The journey will start with guests riding across a 20m lagoon on small boats and passing through a waterfall. After disembarking on the shore, they will explore an Aladdin’s Cave full of gemstones before arriving at the secret cocktail tavern. At the bar, mermen mixologists will whip up boozy delights from the marine-inspired cocktail list. Ingredients include undersea botanicals and minerals, promising psychological, emotional and physiological reactions.

This is the latest experience from Bompas & Parr, who have been responsible for Alcoholic Architecture, the Museum of Food and Dinners With The Twits, among others. Beyond The Waterfall is one of B&P’s most ambitious projects yet, with structural engineers, mining consultants and theatrical prop-makers taking part.

Harry Parr, partner of Bompas & Parr, said: ‘Christmas is obviously a magical time of year but many people find it hugely predictable so we’ve designed a radical new form of escapism that still evokes the emotions and nostalgia of the season – the group activity draws people together, with a real sense of discovery and emotion associated with gift-giving and an indulgent treat at its heart.’

  • Beyond The Waterfall runs from 9 – 23 December 2016. At The Village, Westfield London, Ariel Way, White City, W12 7GF. Nearest station: Shepherd’s Bush, White City or Shepherd’s Bush Market. Open 4-10pm. Tickets are time-slotted and last 60 minutes. Tickets: £15 (includes 2 drink tokens). For tickets, visit Westfield London website.

For Metro Girl’s review of Beyond The Waterfall, click here.


For a guide to what’s on in London this December, click here.

For a guide to London’s Christmas markets and fairs, click here.

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Life is sweet! Sample boozy sweets at the Flavour Rooms pop-up at the Sanderson

© Smith & Sinclair

Sweets aren’t just for the kids! This Christmas, adult Londoners can get their sugar fix while indulging their passion for cocktails. Following the success of their first ever edible alcohol store Eat My Drink in Soho last year, candy wizards Smith & Sinclair are returning with two immersive shopping experiences. This festive season, two pop-up sweet stores will be opening in Fitzrovia and Bluewater shopping centre in Kent.

© Smith & Sinclair 2015

Down the hatch! Try Smith & Sinclair’s trademark cocktail pastilles

The Flavour Rooms at the Sanderson hotel will be like a trip to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory with a boozy twist. The fun new experience will run alongside Smith & Sinclair at Purple Bar – which will serve alcoholic concoctions, including cocktails that change flavour. From 18 November until Christmas Eve, guests will step inside a surreal installation featuring a cocktail sherbet wall, pick ‘n’ mix, edible perfumes, twisted ‘salt & pepper’ shakers and alcoholic dib dabs. After sampling some of the treats, you can shop for boozy goodies – a great Christmas gift for your cocktail aficionado pals.

Smith & Sinclair have enlisted creative studio BeyondExact – famous for their works with Adidas, House of Holland and Lady Gaga – to design the Flavour Rooms. The studio’s founder James Ruth said: ‘Working with a brand like Smith&Sinclair is always a pleasure, as like us, they like to push ideas, through design and concept. To make people think, challenge and abandon the mundane.’

  • The Flavour Room London is open from 18 November – 24 December 2016 from 12-8pm. Sanderson Hotel, 50 Berners Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 3NG. Nearest station: Tottenham Court Road, Goodge Street or Oxford Circus. For more information, visit The Flavour Rooms website.

For a guide to what else is on in London in December, click here.

Or to find out about London’s Christmas markets and fairs, click here.

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Cocktails fit for a mobster as Barts speakeasy launches its Comic Book menu

© Johnny S Photography for Barts

A ‘Kidnap and Handsome’ cocktail @ Barts
© Johnny S Photography for Barts

As someone who doesn’t like to follow the crowd, I’m a huge fan of speakeasies. I love the idea of venturing into a secret bar or restaurant that only a few know about. Barts in Sloane Avenue has been on my to-do list for quite some time and this week, I finally paid a visit to attend the launch of the venue’s new Comic Book menu.

Barts is located in Chelsea Cloisters – a 1930s apartment block on Sloane Avenue. You’ll have to hunt a bit to find it – there’s no neon street sign guiding you to your destination. We eventually found the hidden door and rang the bell, prompting a tiny letterbox-sized window to open revealing a pair of eyes to check if you’re not the fuzz. Once we entered, we were greeted by an intimate, quirky space featuring cosy red and wood interiors. Vintage Bric-à-brac, such as taxidermy, lampshades and tennis racquets, adorned the walls.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

The Alchemist (vodka, elderflower cordial, mint, gomme syrup and apple juice)

The venue originally opened in 2009 and describes itself as ‘London’s worst kept secret’. However, the team behind Barts have decided to shake thing up and have launched a new Comic Book menu. The new drinks listings come in the form of, you guessed it, a comic book, which tells the story of how Chicago gangster Uncle Barts crossed the Pond and started his bootlegging business in Chelsea’s mean streets. Aside from the obvious of being a place to peruse the alcoholic concoctions on offer, the menu also gives you something to read (handy when your friend or date is running late!) and provides an entertaining back story to some of the innovative cocktails. The menu is separated into eight chapters (e.g. ‘The Real McCoys’ and ‘Most Wanted’), with each having a distinct theme and with boozy mixes complementing Uncle Bart’s adventures animated on the opposing pages.

After spending rather longer than we expected perusing the extensive menu, we settled on the Charleston Crumble (Grey Goose vodka, cranberry juice, rhubarb purée and vanilla syrup) and the Jazz Singer (Russian Standard Original vodka, passion fruit purée and vanilla syrup). On reflection, they had very similar ingredients, but tasted rather different. Mine was the Charleston, which tasted like a dessert and I absolutely loved it. When I tried a bit of my friend’s Jazz Singer, it was more fruitier. Next up, my companion wanted something a bit more dramatic – the intriguingly named Kidnap & Handsome. When the drink arrived at our table, it made quite the entrance. A short tumbler was oozing smoke under a bell jar, with the gangster theme continuing with dollar bills, a lipstick-smudged playing card and chocolate truffle. The drink itself was a mix of sweet and bitterness – Sauvelle vodka, oak-infused vanilla syrup and oak bitters. My choice, The Alchemist (Belvedere vodka, elderflower cordial, mint, gomme syrup and cloudy apple juice) was decidedly less theatrical in a simple coupe glass, but refreshing and subtly sweet.

Drinks aside, Barts also plays host to regular parties and live entertainment. During the night, we were entertained by the fabulous, feel-good vocals of the Haywood Sisters, who really fitted into the retro vibe. Barts regularly have live music on the bill so it’s worth checking out their website.

Overall, we had a great evening – the service, venue and drinks were all exceptional. I loved the intimate feel of the bar, while the staff were friendly and clearly knew their stuff when it came to mixology. Barts would be a great venue to impress a date or celebrate a birthday. I’m off to join Uncle Barts’ mob!

  • Barts, Chelsea Cloisters, 87 Sloane Avenue, Chelsea, SW3 3DW. Nearest stations: Sloane Square or South Kensington. For more information, visit the Barts website.
© Johnny S Photography for Barts

The intimate bar is a cosy inviting space full of vintage interiors and leather seating
© Johnny S Photography for Barts


For more of Metro Girl’s bar reviews, click here.

Barts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Clapham’s drinking and dining destination Aquum has a foodie makeover

© Aquum

Halloumi Martini – a twist on a Cypriot favourite – at Aquum

Aquum has been one of Clapham’s late-night staples since it opened back in 2007. However, with nightlife appetites evolving in recent years and becoming more food orientated, it’s time to roll with the changes. Last week, I was invited to the re-launch of the Clapham High Street venue, which has added to new dining element to its drinking and dancing hotspot.

© Aquum

Kir Noir – Pinot Noir syrup, cherry syrup and Mercier Champagne

Aquum has had a makeover in both its design and its format, with the addition of a restaurant making it a more versatile day-to-night destination. Taking over the kitchen is Head Chef Anastasios Tologlou (previously at Medlar, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and Coloniales Huerta in Valencia), who has conceived a menu inspired by his Greek roots and his experience in some of the world’s top restaurants. The new menu features a variety of light dishes, sharing plates and mains. During the evening, we tried some delicious tasters, such as the Razor Clam and Black Eyed Bean Salad and the particularly fun Halloumi Martini – described as a ‘modern twist on the classic Cypriot dish’, featuring grilled Halloumi cheese soaked in a herb essence.

While Aquum hopes to attract a wider audience for its restaurant, it will continue to stay open late on weekends for DJs taking to the decks. The venue’s mixologists have created a new menu, full of original cocktails and twists on some old classics. We started with some Kir Noirs (Pinot Noir syrup, cherry syrup and Mercier Champagne), which were refreshing and subtly sweet. Next up, was the very girlie-named Twinkle, which appealed to me because of its elderflower ingredient – which has been having a resurgence in popularity over the last couple of years and is one of my favourite flavours. Served in a martini glass, the combination of Elderflower cordial, Eristoff vodka and Mercier Champagne managed to taste both strong and light at the same time. A few of those and you’d be well on your way to a good night out!

Aside from the new eating dimension, the venue has also had a design makeover. Aquum is now spread across four levels, with a second bar and private dining/events space available. The white leather seating has been stripped out for a more contemporary stone and dark leather seating. Many of the nightlife venues on Clapham High Street have been looking rather tired of late, so it’s great to see one of them taking a new approach. Both the drinks and food I sampled so far were different and delicious, so I look forward to returning in future for a weekend which will start with dinner and end with dancing.

  • Aquum, 68-70 Clapham High Street, Clapham, SW4 7UL. Nearest stations: Clapham North, Clapham High Street or Clapham Common. For more information, visit the Aquum website.
© Aquum

Aquum has stripped out the white leather and added more muted tones of black and grey


For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.

Aquum Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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