Category Archives: bars

London boasts some of the best bars in the world, from traditional pubs to luxury bars.

Toast the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with royal inspired cocktails at St James Bar

A Jubilee Gimlet at the St James Bar

This year, the UK celebrates the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. And when it comes to celebrations, there are many of us that like to do so with a toast or two. Located just a stone’s throw from St James’s Palace is the St James Bar, which is marking 70 years of the monarch’s reign with a royal inspired cocktail menu.

The luxurious and intimate cocktail bar is located in the Sofitel London St James, with cosy banquettes and bar stools to perch on while you sip your way through the special menu from the team’s mixologists. In the run-up and immediate aftermath of the Jubilee celebrations, the St James Bar will offer a special menu of three drinks inspired by the Queen, ranging in price from £17-£18.

Lilibet Fizz: Named after her family nickname, this fruity drink combines two of the Queen’s best-loved drinks, Bollinger Champagne and Pimm’s Cup No.1

The Coronation: A seriously bling creation inspired by the coronation, features subtle notes of bergamot and wood and pays homage to Her Majesty’s favoured teas, Earl Grey and Assam.

Jubilee Gimlet: A variation of the Queen’s favourite Martini and inspired by the classic Gimlet, this concoction features gin and Champagne with a mix of sweet florals and acidity.

  • The Jubilee-inspired cocktails are on sale from 16 May – 12 June 2022. At St James Bar, Sofitel London St James, 6 Waterloo Place, St. James’s, SW1Y 4AN. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Charing Cross. Bar opening times: Thu-Sat 5pm-12am, Mon and Sun 12pm-12am, Tues-Wed closed. For more information, visit the Sofitel St James website.

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Skylight Peckham review: Creative cocktails and sharing plates at London’s newest rooftop destination

The sister bar to Skylight @ Tobacco Dock has opened in south London, boasting fine views, cocktails, food and a new remote working destination.

Skylight Peckham offers views over the capital’s skyline and south London
© Skylight Peckham

With its position directly south of Tower Bridge and the City of London, Peckham is a great location for a rooftop bar. Having steadily become one of south London’s best nightlife destinations in recent years, Peckham has acquired a new drinking and dining spot with a view. The team behind the popular Skylight at Tobacco Dock have opened a second branch on top of the Mountview Academy of Arts. While the original Skylight is known for its outdoor games and multi-level spaces, the Peckham branch offers a more sophisticated lounge setting across one floor, open to Londoners looking to socialise with pals or work remotely.

Clarified Bees Knees cocktail

As a born and bred south Londoner living just a few miles away, I didn’t hesitate when I was invited to the recent launch of Skylight Peckham. Located a short walk from Peckham Rye station, it doesn’t take long before you are whizzed up from Peckham Square to the top floor. Having visited the original in Wapping many times, I was struck by how different the new branch was. Exiting the lift, you are greeted by an expansive, zinc bar overlooking a varied selection of tables, with a mix of comfortable benches, armchairs and chairs. The wide indoor space means Skylight Peckham will be an all-year round destination when alfresco terrace sessions aren’t so tempting in the winter weather. With the room flooded with natural light, the interior looks like it would be a great daytime spot for remote working, which has become so common in the past 18 months thanks to a pandemic I shall not name!

On the night of my visit, my friend and I grabbed a table on the corner of the L-shaped terrace, providing us the opportunity to enjoy views both north and east of the roof. The north-facing view of the capital’s skyline was fabulous, with The Shard, London Eye and the skyscrapers of the Square Mile all clearly visible. I recommend getting there in time to watch the sunset and the lights start to twinkle on as the sky goes dark. The mix of benches, booths and individual seats mean all parties, from large groups to couples are easily catered for. I could definitely imagine returning with a group of girl friends for a boozy weekend brunch on a sunny summer day. Read the rest of this entry

Christmas cocktails to your front door with The Sun Tavern’s Quarantini kits

Top London bars The Sun Tavern (Bethnal Green) and Discount Suit Company are offering festive concoctions to drink at home.

Choose from Terry’s Chocolate Orange Negroni, Three Kings, Umbrella Buttered Brandy and Xmas Old Fashioned

Although we’re currently in Tier 2, not all Londoners can get to their favourite cocktail bars. However, two of the capital’s award-winning drinking spots are bringing some festive concoctions to your door. The Umbrella Project, the team behind The Sun Tavern and Discount Suit Company, have launched pre-bottled Christmas cocktail Quarantini Kits.

Cocktail fans can enjoy four exclusive bottled cocktails inspired by festive aromas and tastes, including:

Terry’s Chocolate Orange Negroni (Cacao Nib & Orange Peel Gin, Sweet Vermouth, Campari).

Three Kings (Gold Rum, Frankincense, Myrrh, Umbrella London Ginger Beer Syrup, Bitters).

Umbrella Buttered Brandy (Butter Washed Cognac, Rosso Vermut, Pedro Ximenez Sherry, Umbrella Brewing Apple Cider).

Xmas Old Fashioned (Bourbon, Pimento Spiced Liqueur, Douglas Fir & Jasmine Tea Syrup, Bitters).

Christmas Quarantini Cocktail Kits available with two (£30) or four (£50) bottles. Each bottle contains three serves. Can be drunk within three months.

  • The Umbrella Project’s Christmas cocktails are available for their online shop. National and international delivery available. Free delivery within a 3-mile radius of The Sun Tavern in Bethnal Green. Click & Collect also available.
  • The Sun Tavern, 441 Bethnal Green Road, E2 0AN. Nearest station: Bethnal Green. For more information, check out The Sun Tavern website.
  • Discount Suit Company, 29A Wentworth Street, Spitalfields, E1 7TB. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. For more information, check out the Discount Suit Company website

Read the rest of this entry

From criminals to cocktails: How one London hotel started life as a Magistrates Court

The former courthouse in Soho hosted some high profile trials featuring John Lennon, Oscar Wilde, Christine Keeler and Mick Jagger.

Courthouse hotel exterior © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2020

The Edwardian-built Courthouse Hotel in Soho

Great Marlborough Street in Soho features an amalgamation of architecture styles. From the mock Tudor timbers of Liberty to the dazzling Art Deco detailing of Palladium House, there’s quite an array of designs. One imposing building is the Courthouse Hotel – its name giving a clear reference to the building’s former life.

Originally without the ‘Great’, Marlborough Street was built in the early 18th century, the road being named to commemorate John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722), following his 1704 victory at the Battle of Blenheim. The site of courthouse was originally three houses (19-21), where various affluent families lived over the decades. In 1793, No.21 became one of seven police offices across the capital, established by Middlesex Justices Act of 1792 following the success of the Bow Street court and its ‘runners’ – the precursor of the Metropolitan police. Each location was staffed by three magistrates and up to six officers. Crime had risen steadily in the capital as its population boomed, so the offices could house suspects following arrest and host criminal trials. Other offices were opened in Clerkenwell, Shadwell, Shoreditch, Southwark, Whitechapel, St James and St Margaret Westminster. The police office was expanded to incorporate the rear grounds of No.20 in 1856, although tenants continued to live in the building until 1892.

Courthouse hotel Marlborough Street © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2020

Iron bars separate the lobby lounge from the hotel bar

Police courts were utilised for a wide range of ‘criminal’ activities, including assault, theft, animal cruelty, desertion, solicitation, gambling, matrimonial disputes, small debts, drunk and disorderly conduct, and ‘loitering with intent’. More serious cases to be heard in front of a jury would be heard in the Old Bailey or a Crown Court, although sometimes the preliminary hearings would take place in the magistrates’ courts.

During the 19th century, many famous names passed through the doors of Marlborough Street Magistrates’ Court – on both sides of the law. In 1835, a young Charles Dickens (1812-1870) used to cover cases while reporting for the Morning Chronicle. A decade later, Charles-Louis Napoléon Bonaparte (1808-1873), the future Napoleon III, was a witness in a fraud case while exiled in London. The beginning of Oscar Wilde‘s (1854-1900) case against John Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry (1844-1900) for libel began at the courthouse in 1895, before moving to the Old Bailey. The author and poet launched a private prosecution of Douglas (father of his then-lover Lord Alfred Douglas) after the Scottish nobleman described him as a “sodomite” on a calling card. The case was dropped, but Wilde was famously charged and convicted of gross indecency soon after and sentenced to two years in prison.

An Edwardian makeover

As the 20th century dawned, it was time for the court to be updated. Architect John Dixon Butler (1861–1920) was responsible as the Metropolitan Police’s architect and surveyor. Butler, who succeeded his architect father John Butler in the role, began his tenure with Richard Norman Shaw (1831-1912), assisting on the building of New Scotland Yard. During his career, he designed over 200 courts and police stations, including Charing Cross, Wapping, Hackney, Highbury Vale, Hampstead, Muswell Hill, and Tottenham.

Butler’s new design for Marlborough Street Magistrates’ Court was a three-storey building made of Portland stone in a restrained free Classical style. Details such as Ionic pilasters, arched windows, and a grand central pedestal topped by the Royal Arms all lend to the building’s imposing style as a location for law and order. Butler’s new design did manage to incorporate some of the original Georgian building, including three late 18th century chimney pieces, two of which are white marble and still exist today. The courthouse was built by Messrs. Patman and Fotheringham and was completed in 1913. Read the rest of this entry

Athens cocktail bar The Clumsies pops up at Sofitel St James

The acclaimed Athens nightspot is coming to London for a two-day pop-up in March 2020.

The Clumsies is coming to the St James bar at Sofitel London for just two days

One of the world’s best bars is coming to London this March for an exclusive two-day pop-up. Athens’ drinking den, The Clumsies, is currently No.6 in the World’s 50 Best Bars. From 3- 4 March 2020, Londoners will have the opportunity to try The Clumsies acclaimed cocktails at the St James Bar at the Sofitel St James. The Clumsies co-owner Nikos Bakoulis and bartender Christoe Stratigos will be bringing their mixology skills to the five-star hotel.

© Clumsies Cocktail -Synthesis

A Synthesis cocktail

The Clumsies has been a consistent feature in lists of the world’s most renowned bars in recent years. It’s charted in the top 10 of the World’s 50 Best Bars for the past five years and has landed in 6th place in both 2017 and last year. The bar’s owners Nikos Bakoulis and Vassilis Kyritsis have made it their mission to mix innovation and Greece’s distinctive flavours in their cocktails for their Athens regulars and international customers.

The pop-up at the St James Bar will feature five unique cocktails from The Clumsies team:

– Tea Ceremony (Blended Malt Whiskey, Shitake, Ginger, Honey, Mango Kombucha)
– Synthesis (London Dry Gin, White Beetroot Vermouth, Cocoa)
– Shaker Boys (Aged Rum, Milk Water, Nutmeg, Vanilla, Jasmine Kvass)
– Clear Soup (Blanco Tequila, Coconut & Pineapple Sherry, Lime & Celery Ash, Hops)
– Highball Gimlet (Vodka , Apple Geranium, Fennel Seeds, London Essence Grapefruit & Rosemary Tonic).

  • The Clumsies pop-up is open from 3 – 4 March 2020. The Clumsies menu available 5pm–12am. At the St James Bar, Sofitel St James, 6 Waterloo Place, St James, SW1Y 4AN. Nearest stations: Green Park or Charing Cross. For more information, visit the Sofitel St James website.

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Be inspired and amazed by real-life tales of adventure at Mr Fogg’s Explorer Series

Lucy Shepherd is one of the explorers taking part in Mr Fogg’s Explorer Series

This spring, be entertained and amazed by the stories of three inspirational adventurers. As part of Mr Fogg’s Explorer Series, travellers will be sharing their epic tales of adventure from across the globe. Each evening features a talk, followed by Q&A for guests to ask questions, as well as opportunities to try Mr Fogg’s Tanqueray No.Ten gin cocktails, inspired by the world.

  • Monday 24 February 2020 : Ollie Phillips

First up is former England Rugby 7’s captain and Guinness World Record holder Ollie Phillips, who will share his inspirational story of resilience and overcoming the odds. After sustaining a serious calf injury, Ollie’s professional rugby career was halted, so he decided to take part in the Clipper Round the World yacht race, coming 2nd with his GB teammates despite no sailing experience. He has gone on to complete a 100-mile trek across the Arctic, hiked Kilimanharo, cycled across America, driven a rickshaw across India and gained several Guinness World Records along the way.

– For tickets and more information on an Evening with Ollie Phillips, click here.

  • Monday 23 March 2020 : Lucy Shepherd

Mountaineer, arctic and jungle explorer Lucy Shepherd has travelled to some of the world’s most remote spots. Having led solo and team expeditions, Lucy was made a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society at just 23 years old. She has solo skied across the Norwegian-Russian border, mountaineered across the High Sierra Range and climbed Tajikistan’s terrifying peaks. She’s currently planning an expedition to cross Guyana’s mountain range – which has never been achieved before. During her adventures, Lucy also films her discoveries as she aims to highlight the climate crisis and how it impacts the places she visits.

– For tickets and more information on an Evening with Lucy Shepherd, click here.

  • Monday 20 April 2020 : Stephen Fabes

Adventurer Stephen Fabes recalls his amazing six-year expedition across six countries and 75 countries by bike. Having trained as a doctor before his journey began, he was able to use his medical training along the way, visiting remote clinics and helping to raise money to fight tropical diseases.

– For tickets and more information on an Evening with Stephen Fabes, click here.

During each talk, mixologists can whip up some travel-inspired gin concoctions, including ‘To the Ends of the Earth’ (Tanqueray No. TEN Gin, Fermented Banana Shrub, Coffee Liqueur and Lime), ‘Eastern Horizons’ (Tanqueray No. TEN Gin, Belsazar Rosé Wine Aperitif, Sake and Pollen) and ‘Pole to Pole’ (Tanqueray No. TEN Gin, Passion Fruit Juice, Toasted Rice Mirin, Vanilla and Fresh Lemon).

  • Mr Fogg’s Residence, 15 Bruton Lane, Mayfair, W1J 6JD. Nearest station: Green Park or Bond Street. All events have a 6pm arrival for a 7pm start time. Free entry. For more information, visit Mr Fogg’s website.

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

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Burns’ Night 2020: Guide to suppers and parties in London

Find out where to celebrate the birthday of Robbie Burns in London this January 2020.

Whether you’re Scottish or not, there’s plenty of reason to take part in the annual Burns’ Night celebrations. The event marks the birthday of Scottish poet Robert ‘Robbie’ Burns, who died in 1796. Expect a feast of haggis, soup, tatties and neeps with plenty of whisky.

Although Burns’ Night is officially 25 January, there are other suppers, parties and Ceilidhs taking place in the weeks leading up to and after the big night. Here’s some of the best events on in London this Burns’ Night.

  • 18, 24, 25 & 31 January & 1 February : Ceilidh Club presents Burns’ Night London

The Ceilidh Club are hosting four Burns’ Night celebrations. Expect a traditional evening of dancing, live music, poetry, drinking and dining. 8pm-11pm. Tickets: £29-£39. Porchester Hall, 45 Porchester Road, Bayswater, W2 5HS. Nearest station: Royal Oak. For more information and tickets, visit the Ceilidh Club website.

  • 21 – 25 January : A Week Of Burns Celebrations @ Mac & Wild

Scottish restaurants Mac & Wild are hosting a week of celebrations at their Fitzrovia and City locations. Events including Chivas Blend Burn’s Masterclass (21 Jan), Highland Park House of Haggis Masterclass (22 Jan), Burns Dram in the Dark (24 Jan), Mac & Wild X Copper Dog Burns Pop Up (24 & 25 Jan), Burns Bottomless Brunch (25 Jan) and Burns Night dinner (25 Jan). Times and prices vary. Mac & Wild Fitzrovia: 65 Great Titchfield Street, W1W 7PS (Nearest station: Oxford Circus) or Mac & Wild City: 9A Devonshire Square, City of London, EC2M 4YN (Nearest station: Liverpool Street). For booking and more information, visit the Mac & Wild website.

  • 23 – 24 January : Burns on the Barge

Take to the canals for an evening of revelry. Featuring live music, toasts to the haggis, whisky, and a 4-course Scottish feast. 7pm-11pm. Tickets: £45pp. Barge East, White Post Lane, Hackney Wick, E9 5EN. Nearest station: Hackney Wick. For more information, visit the Barge East website.

  • 23 – 25 January : Burns’ Night Celebrations @ Boisdale

Scottish restaurant chain Boisdale are hosting Burns’ Night celebrations across their venues. Featuring traditional Scottish set menus, live music, stabbing of the haggis and whisky from the Annandale Distillery. Times and prices vary. At Boisdale venues in Belgravia, Bishopsgate, Canary Wharf and Mayfair. For more information, visit the Boisdale website. Read the rest of this entry

London’s best winter pop-ups and Christmas cocktails 2019

Find out where London’s seasonal terraces and pop-ups are and which bars are serving Christmas cocktail menus.

Christmas is that time of year when your social life kicks into high-gear. If you’re planning a catch-up with friends and family and looking for a suitably festive environment, then why not head to one of London’s seasonal pop-ups or winter terraces. Alternatively, some of the capital’s top bars have curated special Christmas cocktail menus.

London Winter Pop-ups

A ‘Snowed Under’ cocktail @ 100 Wardour Street

  • 18 October – 5 January 2020 : The Winter Garden @ John Lewis

The flagship department store transforms its roof garden for the winter season, featuring Sage cocktails and candy floss, curling and street food from Jimmy’s Carnival Diner. Open Mon-Sat 12pm-10pm, Sun 12pm-9pm.

– John Lewis rooftop, 300 Oxford Street, Marylebone, W1C 1DX. Nearest station: Oxford Circus. For more information, visit the John Lewis website.

  • 29 October – 5 January 2020 : Montague Ski Lodge

The ski lodge returns to the Montague Hotel for another year. The Wood Deck will be transformed into a alpine hideaway, with pine trees, falling snow, reindeer, snowmen, and ski racks. The bar will be serving mulled wine, hot cider, hot chocolate, schnapps, flavoured vodka and more.

– The Montague Hotel, 15 Montague Street, Bloomsbury, WC1B 5BJ. Nearest station: Russell Square or Holborn. For more information, visit The Montague hotel website.

  • 5 November – 31 January 2020 : Swan Lake @ Bluebird

Bluebird’s courtyard has been transformed into a mythical woodland inspired by Swan Lake. Featuring heated winter chalets and warm Ciroc vodka cocktails like ‘Sygnet Sour’, ‘White Ember’, and ‘Spellbound’. Open Mon-Fri 8am -9pm, Sat-Sun 9am-9pm.

– Bluebird Chelsea, 350 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UU. Nearest stations: South Kensington. For more information and booking, visit the Bluebird Chelsea website.

  • 6 November – 20 December : The Winter Forest

Seasonal pop-up returns to Broadgate Circle, with snowy pine trees, twinkling lights, live music and food and drink. During the festive period, there will also be gin tastings, charity pub quizzes, wellbeing workshops, winter floral workshops, and visits from Santa.

– Broadgate Circle, Broadgate, EC2. Nearest station: Liverpool Street or Moorgate. For more information, visit The Broadgate website.

  • 7 November – 29 February 2020 : The Elyx Chalet @ Rosewood London

The Terrace at the Rosewood London has become a Swedish-inspired hideaway, with sparkling trees, snow and festive cocktails with a Swedish twist. Open daily from 4pm.

– Rosewood London, 252 High Holborn, Holborn, WC1V 7EN. Nearest station: Holborn. For more information, visit the Rosewood Hotels website.

  • 7 November – late February 2020 : The Enchanted Woods @ Madison

St Paul’s rooftop bar Madison’s terrace has been given a winter makeover. Cosy up under a blanket in wooden chalet surrounded by twinkling lights and heaters and sip hot cocktails while gazing at the City views. Open Mon-Thu 11am-late, Fri-Sat 11am-1am, Sun 12pm-9.30pm.

– Madison rooftop terrace, 1 New Change, City of London, EC4M 9AF. Nearest station: Mansion House or St Paul’s. For more information, visit the Madison London website.

Cosy up with blankets and hot cocktails at Madison’s winter terrace

  • 7 November – late March 2020 : Winterland

Riverside, alpine wonderland returns, with plenty of heated winter lodges, cabin and igloos, fire pits, hot tubs, games, hot and cold cocktails, comfort food and more. Open: Wed-Thu 6pm-12am, Fri 5pm-12am, Sat 12pm-12am, Sun 12pm-6.30pm. Entry: Wed-Fri, Sun £5pp, Sat £10pp. For Metro Girl’s review, click here.

– Winterland, Wandsworth Bridge Road, Fulham, SW6 2TY. Nearest station: Wandsworth Town. For more information, visit the Winterland website. Read the rest of this entry

Cosy up with hot tubs, igloos, mulled cocktails, street food and games at Winterland’s alpine lodge

One of the bookable winter lodges at Winterland

Boozy hot chocolates and cocktails

With the dark nights and dropping temperatures, it can be hard to motivate yourself to go out in the winter. However, the promise of cosy seating and hot cocktails is one way to entice me out of the house! With Christmas creeping up, I got into the festive spirit at the launch of seasonal pop-up destination Winterland last week.

Open from now until March 2020, Winterland is a restaurant, bar, music venue, arcade and adults-playground all rolled into one. Located by the River Thames, the Fulham pop-up covers a large space and features plenty of different spaces to hang out with your friends or lovers. Upon arrival, the festive spirit was well and truly kicking as we walked through a tunnel of twinkling lights, silver branches and Christmas trees. Despite the cold wind outside we had just battled through, the interior couldn’t be more different. Fur-covered sofas, cushions, fairy lights and plenty of trees made for a welcoming and cosy environment in the main covered pagoda. We headed straight to the bar, which serves a wide selection of drinks, including hot and cold cocktails. I couldn’t resist an alcoholic hot chocolate, with lashings of whipped cream and marshmallows on top. It had the right mixture of sweetness and booze, without the latter over-powering the flavour. Read the rest of this entry

Creative cocktails, Japanese snacks and blossom backdrops at Mr Fogg’s Winter Light Festival

A special new winter experience has arrived at Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour and Tavern. The Winter Light Festival launched on 23 October and runs until 24 November 2019. The neighbouring venues of the Gin Parlour and Tavern have transformed into a Japanese-inspired, illuminated oasis, serving House of Suntory cocktails and tasty fusion cuisine.

Visitors will be brought on a sensory journey to the Far East, with sights, tastes and sounds of Japan. After walking through a red Torii, guests can grab a chair and enjoy the photogenic, pink Japanese blossom surrounding the bar. Alternatively, you can follow the lantern trail upstairs to the Gin Parlour.

The two menus features Japanese-inspired cocktails made with Toki whisky, Haku vodka and Roku gin.

  • Mr Fogg’s Tavern have created a menu themed around locations in Japan:

– YAGOSHIMA (£10): Suntory Roku gin, Bergamot Liqueur, Fermented Cucumber Juice, Sichuan Pepper Syrup, Egg White and Cherry Bitters.
– OSAKA: Suntory Haku Vodka, Coffee Bean-infused Alipús San Andrés Mezcal, homemade Jasmin Syrup and Coffee flavoured White Tea.
– KYOTO (£10): Suntory Toki Whisky, Elderflower Cordial, Lemon Juice and topped with Ginger Ale.
– KANPAI (£20 / £38) Punch Cocktail (two to four sharing): Suntory Roku Gin, Green Tea & Hibiscus Liqueur, Lavender Syrup, Pink Grapefruit Juice topped with Fentimans Oriental Yuzu Tonic Water. Read the rest of this entry