Category Archives: Bars
Following its launch earlier this year, Skylight became a popular summer destination for rooftop drinking, food and games. Although many rooftop venues have closed for the winter, the Tobacco Quay destination has had a festive makeover. Launching last week, Skylight has been transformed for the winter season with the installation of an ice rink. Although smaller than other alfresco rinks, the Skylight one’s unique selling point is it offers fabulous views of the London skyline while you skate.
I went along to the launch last week having previously visited the venue in the summer and was impressed by how much it had changed. Despite anticipating it would be chilly and windy, I was pleasantly surprised. The top level features two bars – one enclosed in a heated tent and a pergola – heated too – with plenty of seating and blankets if you’re feeling cold. The lower-level is enclosed and include a fondue station, bar, lots of neon and alpine-esque furry seating and day beds. It’s a warm and cosy place which makes a great retreat after a whirl on the ice. There’s also an ice hockey slap shot outside if you’re looking to let off some steam.
The bars serve a wide range of beers, cider, spirits, winter cocktails and mulled wine. We tried the Apple Crumble, a rum and apple concoction that certainly gave us a warm and fuzzy feeling. Meanwhile, cheese fans will be in their element with the fondue station.
Overall, it’s a great, versatile destination for a wintry night out. The abundance of heating means you’re unlikely to be cold for long, which would usually be my main aversion to outdoor winter venues. There was plenty to keep us occupied and it was a nice change to have a great view while ice-skating. Instagrammers will find there’s plenty of material to pose against with Skylight’s neon and stunning vistas.
- Skylight, Tobacco Quay (Pennington Street entrance), Wapping, E1CW 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. Free entry to Skylight. Under 18s allowed until 6pm. Open 2 November 2017 – 14 January 2018. Skating tickets: £10 (45 minutes). For booking, visit the Skylight London website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in November, click here.
For a guide to London’s open-air ice rinks this winter, click here.
It’s the spookiest time of the year. It’s not only the Americans that go crazy for the annual scarefest with a host of daytime and nighttime events on for both children and adult on in London. With Halloween falling on a Tuesday this year, we can expect to see ghoulish events kicking off a bit earlier. As half-term holidays are the week before, there’s plenty of Halloween-themed fun for kids in the lead up to the 31 October. Meanwhile, for party animals, there’s plenty of late-night revelry, or for a calmer alternative, there’s special meals and film screenings.
- 1 October – 6 November : The Death Express @ The London Dungeon
Step aboard the Death Express, an old railway transporting the dead. Explore the history of London’s most gruesome residents and crimes. Tickets from £21 (timed entry). London Dungeon, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo or Embankment. For more information and booking, visit the London Dungeon website. For Metro Girl’s review of the London Dungeon, click here.
- 17 – 31 October : The Quarter of Curiosity Shop
Newburgh Quarter will be hosting a fortnight of Halloween fun, including a Halloween florist selling posies and bouquets in spooky shades. Also including series of free workshops, including Halloween Headdress making, potion cocktail making, pumpkin planters and a Halloween make-up masterclasses. The Quarter of Curiosity Shop, 2 Newburgh Street, Soho, W1F 7RD. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus. For more information, visit the Carnaby website.
- 21 – 31 October : Boo At The Zoo
A week of fiendish fun at London Zoo including Halloween-themed activities, pumpkin carving, crafts and animal demonstrations. Open 10am-5pm. Activities are free with entry to zoo. Entrance tickets: Adults £24.50, Child £18.00 (cheaper online). London Zoo, Regent’s Park, Marylebone, NW1 4RY. Nearest station: Regent’s Park or Camden Town. For booking, visit the ZSL website.
- 21 – 28 October : Spookfest @ London Museum of Water & Steam
Learn the secret history of the engine houses, enjoy a ride on the ghost train, a trip through the creepy wood and Halloween craft activities. Tickets: adults £12.50, children £5.50. London Museum of Water & Steam, Kew Bridge Road, Brentford, TW8 0EF. Nearest station: Kew Bridge. For more information, visit the London Museum of Water & Steam website.
- 23 – 27 October : Half-Term Horrors @ Eltham Palace
Creepy family fun at the Medieval and Art Deco Eltham Palace. Including costume competitions and pumpkin carving. Book a time slot at 11am, 12pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm. Tickets: Adults £14.40, Children £8.60. Eltham Palace, Court Yard, Eltham, Greenwich, SE9 5QE. Nearest station: Eltham or Mottingham. For more information, visit English Heritage website. For Metro Girl’s review of Eltham Palace, click here.
- 24 October : Family Day: Hallowe’en @ Benjamin Franklin House
A spooky family day with spooky 18th century stories told by Polly Hewson and gruesome games for 5-11 year olds. 4-5pm. Free, but advanced booking recommend. Benjamin Franklin House, 36 Craven Street, Westminster, WC2N 5NG. Nearest stations: Charing Cross or Embankment. For more information, visit the Benjamin Franklin House website.
- 25 – 29 October : Four Legged Phantoms @ Sutton House
Halloween fun and games in a Tudor manor, including a ghost hunt and spooky stories. Fancy dress encouraged. Halloween activities are free with normal entry. Tickets: Adults £6, Children £3. Sutton House, 2-4 Homerton High Street, Hackney, E9 6JQ. Nearest station: Homerton. For more information, visit the National Trust website.
- 26 October : Crafty Pumpkin Fun @ Chiswick House
Children can enjoy pumpkin carving in the kitchen garden of Chiswick House. For 4-11 year olds. 10am-4pm. Tickets: £7 per child with accompanying adult (booking in advance recommended). Chiswick House, Chiswick, W4. Nearest station: Chiswick or Chiswick Park. For booking, visit the Chiswick House website.
- 26 – 29 October : Trick Or Treat Afternoon Tea
Foodies will love this afternoon tea with a spooky twist. Featuring black iced ghoul cupcakes, brownie coffins, blood orange tart and pumpkin sponge rolls. There will also be pumpkin carving classes in the café on Hallows Eve. Afternoon tea: £21.50pp (includes pot of tea or coffee). Bluebird, 350 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UU. Nearest stations: Fulham Broadway, South Kensington or Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Bluebird website.
- 28 October : Trick Or Treat Run
A Halloween-themed charity run of either 2km, 5km or 10km around a closed park course. For adults and children, fancy dress encouraged. Prizes for the best costumes. Runs at 1.30pm and 5.30pm. Entrance fees start from £12 (adults) and £6 (children) depending on mileage. Richmond Park, Richmond, TW10 5HS. Nearest station: North Sheen, Richmond or Hampton Wick. For more information and to register, visit the Human Race website. Read the rest of this entry
If you didn’t get the chance to enjoy some Oktoberfest action, don’t despair! Coming to London this weekend (14-15 October), is the first beer festival from Heist Bank.
The Paddington bar will be hosting a celebration of some of the UK’s best breweries, including Fourpure, Beavertown, Thornbridge and Wild Beer Co. There will also be some international offerings, including Copenhagenn’s To Øl, Norwegian Lervig, and New Zealand’s Yeastie Boys and 8 Wired. Over 30 breweries will be serving special, seasonal and collaborative brews from the keg and the cask.
As well as plenty of drinking of opportunities, guests can take part in the beer workshops from the festival headliners. When you’re feeling peckish, you can order homemade sourdough pizzas from the wood-fired pizza oven, with inventive toppings such as smoked lardo, Birchden farm asparagus and burnt shallots. There will also be live music and DJs providing you with a drinking soundtrack throughout the day and evening.
- The Heist Bank Beer Festival is on 14-15 October 2017. Open 12pm-11pm (two sessions per day). Heist Bank, 5 North Wharf Road, Paddington, W2 1LA. Nearest station: Paddington or Edgware Road. Tickets: £15 (inc 5 hour session, 2 beer tokens and 1 food token). For more information, visit the Heist Bank website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in October, click here.
With London Cocktail Week having kicked off, what better way than to celebrate than making your own concotions. Drink supremos Schweppes are hosting a secret bar experience in central London. Located in the quiet enclaves of St Martin’s Courtyard, guests will have the chance to learn the art of cocktail making with some of the best mixologists in the business.
For nine days, the pop-up bar will invite cocktail fans to explore the work of original alchemist, Jacob Schweppes and over 200 years of bubble-making. Guests can take part in the Schweppes Laboratory Experience, where they will be able to create their own sparkling drink. London’s experimental mixologists Smith & Sinclair will be sharing some of their secrets with the chance to see colour-changing gin and tonics to inhalable gin clouds. After mixing up a storm, participants will then head into the Schweppes secret study to relax with a new drink from the brand.
The pop-up is taking place during London Cocktail Week, which sees hundreds of the capital’s bars and restaurants taking part, offering masterclasses, workshops, tastings and £6 cocktails.
- Schweppes Alchemy Bar is open at 21 Slingsby Place, St Martin’s Courtyard, WC2E 9AB. Nearest stations: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. Open from 2-11 October 2017. Over 18s only. Tickets: £10 (includes three gin and tonic cocktails, plus immersive cocktail-making class. For booking, visit Eventbrite.
For a guide to what else is on in London in October, click here.
This October, the team behind Cahoots are taking their underground revelry to a whole new level. The secret Soho basement bar is bringing their special brand of 1940s fun and frolics to an underground party at The Vaults in Waterloo.
In the Victorian arches below Waterloo station will be an evening of vintage post-war fabulousness, with live music, 1940s costumes, food and plenty of cocktails. Upon arrival, guests will be checked in at a 1940s ticket office with a glass of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut Champagne. To line their stomachs, there will be war-time rations of classic British grub, such as fish-finger sandwiches and sausage rolls. Among the all-inclusive drinks on offer will be Grey Goose, Jack Daniel’s and Bombay Sapphire black-market cocktails.
The Vaults will be transformed into a WWII bunker with plenty of fun and games going on in the coves and tunnels. The main Blitz Room will feature live bands, swing dancers and retro DJs alongside a flow of Cahoots cocktails. For a more intimate experience, people can cosy up and enjoy a Cockney singalong in the 1940s coffee shop, Grey Goose Espresso Martini Bar. If you’re really looking to let loose, head to the Swing House, with Cahoots DJ The Roustabouts keeping the party swinging. And finally, if you’re needing a breather, the hidden Gentlemans Jack Room will provide some respite and a quiet cocktail or two.
- Cahoots Underground Knees Up takes place on Friday 6th October 2017 from 7pm – 1am. At The Vaults, Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN. Nearest station: Waterloo or Lambeth North. Tickets: Early bird £85, Regular from £95 (includes all cocktails and food). Forties dress seriously encouraged. For more information and tickets, visit the Cahoots website.
For the latest guide to what else is on in London, click here.
When it comes to finding a perfect bar, there’s two main things I look for – an extensive cocktail menu and a relatively low-key venue. I’m a sucker for speakeasies and hidden bars off the beaten track so I’m having a new experience and don’t feel I’m jostling for a spot at the bar with a big crowd. When it comes to whisky/whiskey, I’ve flirted with it in the past and am partial to a Bushmills and Coke when I’m visiting family in Ireland, but am yet to become a full whisky convert. However, after hearing of a new hidden Whisky bar in the heart of the City I went to check it out.
Merchant House of Fleet Street is the sister bar to Merchant House Of The City in Bow Lane, the latter being a gin and rum bar with 300 varieties of each. The newer Fleet Street branch focuses on whiskys and whiskeys instead, boasting over 500 different types, predominantly from Ireland and Scotland, but also some offerings from Japan and American Bourbons. To those less experienced whisky drinkers, like myself, there can be the preconceived notion the drink is dark, strong and heavy. However, the experienced mixologists of Merchant House of Fleet Street are here to change your mind, showcasing the fresh and floral side of the mighty Scotch.
The bar is located down Bride Court, a covered alley off Fleet Street dating back to the 18th century. The venue has a natural and contemporary feel, with a rustic wood and white marble bar, lots of plants and green velvet sofas and bar stools giving a subtle nod to the Highlands and Emerald Isle. Behind the bar are huge shelves showcasing the expansive whisky collection. My boyfriend (who happens to be a bit of a whisky aficionado) and I grabbed two stools at the bar as we were looking to experiment with flavours so wanted a seat near the action.
Before we began perusing the extensive menu, we enjoyed a shot of whisky for ‘Whisky Wednesday’ to kick things off. You’ll notice the menu doesn’t list any brands under the cocktail ingredients, just a rough description of the whisky so it means you focus on the flavours instead. I’m a bit of a sucker for floral flavours such as elderflower and rose so started with a Rose Without Thorns (Island Malt, Rosehip Water, Raspberry Cordial and Americano Rosa). It was quite different to any whisky cocktail I’d had before, sweet and light and went down really well. My companion opted for a Karyukai (Japanese whiskey, plum wine and smoked water), which involved the bartender getting out a blowtorch on the water – who doesn’t like a bit of bar theatrics?! Out of the three cocktails we would try that evening, my boyfriend said this was his favourite as he particularly liked the smoky flavour.
Next up, I continued the floral theme with an Émigré (Single Pot Still Whiskey, Bramley Apple Juice, Rhubarb and Elderflower) which came served with a big slice of rhubarb and tasted very dessert-like and I really enjoyed it. My boyfriend opted for something harder – a Sazerac (Cognac, Rye, Sugar, Bitters and Absinthe) which was served in a short glass – definitely one to be sipped slowly!
Finally, we finished with a Mulligan’s Travels (Poitin, Banana, Vanilla Ice Cream and Ginger Soda) and a Brooklyn (Rye, Sweet Vermouth, Picon and Maraschino). The Mulligan’s Travels was my first introduction to Poitin – essentially an Irish moonshine with potatoes as one of the ingredients. The bartender was happy to educate me and I tried a some of it straight before my cocktail. The strength hits you immediately, before the sweet after-taste comes in. When it came to the cocktail, it was somewhat of a hard shake thanks to its ingredients, with the sweetness overpowering the alcohol so it’s a good choice for those who don’t like their concotions too boozy tasting. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn was bittersweet mix served in a sherry glass, complete with maraschino cherry in the bottom.
Overall, it’s a fabulous bar for both whisky and cocktail fans alike. Those unfamiliar with whisky would do well to pay a visit and will be surprised at the variety of flavours in a whisky cocktail. For more seasoned whisky drinkers, with 500 to choose from, there’s more than enough choices to keep your glass topped up. When it came to the venue, the cosy space and the hidden location makes Merchant House particularly appealing. During our couple of hours in the bar, we were never without an empty glass thanks to the attentive and friendly bartenders, who certainly knew their stuff when it came to whisky and were happy to educate us. As well as cocktails, Merchant House also serves a small food menu and host whisky masterclasses if you want to delve in further.
- Merchant House of Fleet Street, 8 Bride Court, City of London, EC4Y 8DU. Nearest stations: City Thameslink, Blackfriars or St Paul’s. Open Mon-Fri 11am-11pm. For more information, visit the Merchant House of Fleet Street website.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar reviews, click here.
London Bridge and Borough is one of my favourite areas of London to socialise in. It’s got great transport links and is good for rendezvous to meet friends travelling all over the capital. Usually I end up in one of the traditional boozers around Borough Market, the dominant type of drinking venue in the area. I’ve always thought there wasn’t quite enough cocktail bars in the area, but that is gradually changing thanks to new hotspot Nine Lives.
A short walk (and a world away) from the commuter and tourist-centric pubs near the station is a new subterranean nightspot from the team behind Sweet&Chilli. The spacious Victorian basement on Holyrood Street has been turned into a cosy tropical space with low-lighting, cosy booths and wicker. As someone who is currently binge watching Mad Men on Netflix, I was drawn to the Sixties-influenced interiors. Although I visited with my best friend, my immediate thought upon entering the venue was how perfect it would be for a romantic date. Fortunately a booth was available – my seating of choice as they generally tend to be the most comfortable. We had a good view of the bar so could people watch and soak up the atmosphere.
Nine Lives is billed as a zero waste bar as they attempt to make the most of their ingredients. They use herbs and plants from their own garden, recycle water and put leftovers in the compost. Even the branded bamboo straws are reusable. The menu features four genres of cocktails – ‘Shorty’; ‘Long’; ‘Tarted Up’; and ‘Lowriders’, with prices around £6.50-£9.50 so affordable quality concotions. We started with some ‘Lowriders’ – the rather boozy Alright Blossom (Raspberry, Rose, Hibiscus and Prosecco) and Stingray (Port, Raspberry Liqueur, Citric acid, Mint). Alright Blossom was sweet and light thanks to its fragrant floral notes. The Stingray was rather different, with the Mint bringing a refreshing note to the heavier Port flavour. Next up, we went for something different and rather theatrical it turns out when the drinks were presented on our table. The Kuti Bird (Vodka, Tropical triple-sec, Pineapple and Aperol) is a very tropical mix and served in a Pacific Island-esque glass. My friend and I are big fans of Aperol and Vodka – although rarely drink them together – and found it an unusual strong mix of fruity and bitter, but it certainly went down well. However, I preferred the delicious Crossfire Hurricane (Rum, orange, lemon, pineapple, passion fruit, bitters), with the fruity flavours overpowering the rum.
During our evening, we had the right amount of attention from the friendly and knowledge bar staff who are passionate about their offerings and their ethos. As we were there on a weeknight, it was rather chilled, but Nine Lives really livens up at the weekend with DJs and live music. For me, the two main selling points were their zero waste policy and the good value menu. I’m getting so used to seeing quality cocktails in double figures these days, it was good to see prices more attractive to average Londoners. I’m definitely planning to head back for a weekend party session.
- Nine Lives, 8 Holyrood Street, London Bridge, SE1 2EL. Nearest station: London Bridge. Open Tues-Wed 5pm-12am, Thu-Sat 5pm-late. Closed Sun and Mon. For more information, visit the Nine Lives website.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar reviews, click here.
Disclaimer: Metro Girl was a guest of Nine Lives for this review. However my views are, as always, honest and my own.
I really like the idea of cafes that turn into cocktail bars and have started to make a byline for them in the past year. Earlier this year, iconic north London music venue The Garage had a major refurbishment and makeover, with a new standalone all day bar and café The General Store opening next door.
Last week, I popped ‘up north’ to check out it out and also sample their new summer cocktail menu. Taking over the site of the former gloomy Mini-Bar, the light and contemporary General Store could not be more different. The venue brings a slice of old town Americana to Highbury Corner, with vintage gas pumps, huge US fridges, cosy leather booths and retro tiling. The GS serves coffee, cake, cocktails and craft beer so enough to keep you watered from daytime to night.
Arriving on a warm summer evening, my friend and I were definitely in the mood for cocktails. The menu features some classic drinks with a twist, such as the General Store Mai Tai (Hibiscus-infused rum with lime juice, sugar and coconut water) served in a short glass, which my friend noted had quite the kick. I was in the mood for something lighter (and can’t resist elderflower) so went for the English Garden (Hendricks Gin and Elderflower Liqueur shaken with Apple and Lemon), which was very refreshing. With such tempting concotions on the menu, I threw caution to the wind and mixed my spirits, opting for a Apple Caipirinha (Cachaca Rum served with Sherry, Apple Juice, Syrup and served over Cubed Apple), which was the right amount of sweet and strong.
Accompanying our cocktails, my pal and I decided to share a slice of cake. I gave him free rein to surprise me with his choice. When he came back with a gluten-free piece, I was initially sceptical as previous experiments with GF haven’t worked out well for me in the past. However, I’ve got to praise the GS for baking a thoroughly delicious GF chocolate and raspberry cake, it was delicious.
Overall, it’s a great spot to catch up with friends over coffee or a cocktail. Located next door to The Garage, it’s a perfect location for pre or post gig drinks, with the venue open until 3am on weekends if you’re up for a big night. Having met friends often over the years in the area, it’s good to see a decent drinking venue on Highbury Corner at last.
- The General Store, 20 – 22 Highbury Crescent, Highbury East, N5 1RD. Nearest station: Highbury & Islington. Open Mon-Wed 10am-11.30pm, Thur 10am-1am, Fri-Sat 10am-3am, Sun 12pm-11pm. For more information, visit The General Store Facebook page.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.
While a lot of people enjoy sparkling wines, London’s champagne bars tend to be rather exclusive and expensive destinations. With the rise in popularity in the more affordable Prosecco and Cava in recent years, the capital has been ripe for an alternative. Opening in Soho this summer is the capital’s first dedicated sparkling wine bar. Fiz Bar is having a 10 week residency at the Lights Of Soho, offering a range of bubbles and food.
I popped (excuse the pun!) along with a gal pal last week to check it out in its first few days. The venue has taken over the ground floor of members’ club Lights Of Soho in Brewer Street. Immediately walking in the atmosphere was a world away from champagne bars – bustling, casual and full of energy. We pulled up a stool at one of the side tables so had a good vista of the busy bar and kitchen area. The drinks menu features a range of sparkling wine including Prosecco, Cava, English sparkling, Cremante and more by the bottle or glass, with most of the latter in the £5 range. If you’re with a friend who’s not into wines, there’s also a small selection of other drinks, including cider, lager and spirits to keep them refreshed.
As the day on question was pretty hot and summery, I was in the mood for some sparkling rose so started with the Paternina Cava Rose, a fruity wine which went down very well. Next to shake things up I hoped across the Mediterranean to Italy for a glass of Canal di Rajo Lemoss Frizzante, which had a fuller aroma and richer taste because it was unfiltered. Finally to finish off, I enjoyed a couple of glasses of the 47 AD Prosecco, a lovely soft and refreshing wine.
Of course, with all this quaffing going on, it was only sensible we should be lining our stomachs too. Quite wisely, Fiz Bar serves a mix of buns or sharing dishes ranging from £3.75 to £9.50. We opted to share the Grilled asparagus with salsa verde; Smoked Trout with Fennel, Dill Pickles and Charcoal Sourdough; and Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Comte, Emmental and Ogleshield. All three dishes were delicious. I thought the charcoal sourdough was particularly interesting, with the trout absolutely yummy. The grilled cheese was very naughty, but incredibly moreish.
Overall, Fiz is a great addition to the London bar scene, offering something different from craft beer houses, champagne bars and speakeasies that are becoming so commonplace. The staff were really friendly and the quality of the food and drink is exceptional. Fiz Bar is in residence until August so check it out while you can.
- Fiz @ Lights Of Soho, 35 Brewer Street, Soho, W1F. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus. Open Mon 6pm-11.30pm, Tues-Thur 10am-11.30pm, Fri-Sat 10am-12am; Sun 12pm-4pm. For more information, visit the Fiz Bar Website.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.
Coming to London’s East End this summer is a new rooftop destination with a lot more to offer than just alfresco drinking. Skylight in Wapping opens on 25 May offering three levels of summer fun with views of the City of London. Styled as an urban lawn club, the nightspot will offer cocktails, street food, croquet, petanque and more.
Coming from the team behind Tobacco Dock and Interact, this new venue is breathing new life into an unused space with room for up to 600 people. Situated above the 19th century, listed Tobacco Dock, Skylight will have awesome views of The Shard, Walkie Talkie and The Gherkin, among other iconic London sights.
On long summer nights, Londoners can head to the rooftop to enjoy an array of indoor and outdoor games. Skylight features two petanque courts, lawn bowls and three croquet lawns.
For those interested in drinking, there will be bars on every level, offering summery spritzes, cocktails and beer. The Blue Moon bar and lounge sky terrace will boast the best views in the place to sink a drink while watching the sunset. If you’re feeling peckish, several street food names have set up camp for the summer, including We Serve Humans burgers and Yiro Greek street food.
- Skylight, Tobacco Quay, Pennington Street entrance, Wapping, E1CW 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. Open all summer from 25 May 2017 on Thu-Fri 5pm-11pm, Sat-Sun 12pm-11pm. Free entry. Croquet costs £20-£30ph for teams up to 6 people, Petaque costs £15 per 30 mins for teams up to 4 people. For more information, visit the Skylight website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in September, click here.