Category Archives: Nightlife
Bars, pubs, nightclubs, live music
Limited-edition menu sees competing gin cocktails with House of Pink vs House of Orange.
I’m a great believer in drinking to suit the seasons – I would never dream of mulled cider in summer and an Aperol Spritz must always be accompanied by warmth and sunshine. So whenever I hear the words ‘summer drinks’, I don’t need much convincing. Furthermore, when I heard that Dirty Martini were using my tipple of choice – gin – in their new summer menu, I didn’t need much incentive to try it out.
This summer, the cocktail bar chain has created a contrasting summer drink menu, featuring the competing House of Pink vs the House of Orange. Each ‘house’ features three cocktails each, with the common ingredient being either Beefeater Blood Orange or Strawberry Pink Gin. I’m fairly well acquainted with pink gin, but not so much with the blood orange so was keen to experiment. I’ve only been drinking gin regularly for a few years and often find friends declaring they ‘don’t like it’. However, I’ve always insisted that a cocktail or a flavoured gin will be far from their memory of gin, as its such a versatile drink. On my visit, I was accompanied by one of those said friends who didn’t think she liked gin, but was open-minded. With my encouragement, she tried a ‘Strawberries & Dreams (strawberry pink gin, pineapple, strawberries and a coconut foam), which she was pleasantly surprised by how sweet and lovely it tasted. Meanwhile, I opted for a ‘Summer Lover’ (Blood orange gin, passoa, fresh passion fruit, vanilla, citrus, egg white and Prosecco), an even fruitier twist on the Pornstar Martini, which I really liked.
My friend had soon developed quite the taste for the pink gin, as had I for the blood orange, so we let those ingredients dominate our next cocktail choice. My pal decided on the ‘I Lychee Like That’ (Strawberry pink gin, watermelon, lychee and strawberries with dehydrated dragon fruit), with the lychee and dragon fruit giving an exotic twist and refreshing taste. However, I went for the uber delicate ‘Life’s a Peach’ (Blood orange gin, Frangelico, peach, peach schnapps, eucalyptus, citrus and egg white), which was a surprisingly boozy and fragrant drink. Finally to finish, we kept it simple with pink and orange gin and tonics. Having stuck to blood orange cocktails, I mixed things up and went for the strawberry pink gin served with pink grapefruit and mint, which was sweet, but light. Meanwhile, the blood orange gin is accompanied by orange slices and fresh rosemary, with the herb really elevating the gin flavour.
Overall, the summer menu is a treat for gin lovers and even those who think they don’t like gin… you may be surprised! I’ve been back to the St Paul’s branch to enjoy the summer menu more than once, and I’m sure I’ll have to squeeze in one last visit before the season ends.
- Dirty Martini’s Summer Drinks menu is available from 3 June – 1 September 2019 at all branches. London branches include Bishopsgate, Covent Garden, Hanover Square, Islington, Monument, St Paul’s and Minories. For more information, visit the Dirty Martini website.
- Dirty Martini’s Bottomless Gin Brunch is available from 7 June – 1 September 2019 at Bishopsgate (Fri, Sat & Sun), and St Paul’s, Hanover Square and Minories (Fri and Sat). Featuring Bottomless G&Ts, Prosecco, choice of three Martinis or beer for 90 minutes, alongside a birdcage of sharing food.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar reviews, click here.
Enjoy masterclasses, special menus, cookbook launches and more at this month-long food festival in September 2019.
The Carnaby district of Soho is well-known for its wealth of restaurants and bars. So it’s the perfect destination for a month-long foodie festival this September. Throughout the month, the restaurants and cafes will be offering special menus, masterclasses, and cookbook launches.
Budding foodies can take part in free expert masterclasses from Dehesa and Farm Girl, while cocktail aficinoados can enjoy a Pisco Sour masterclass at Señor Ceviche or a mixologist taster class at Jakata. Throughout the month, there will be cookbook launches from Dishoom, Leon and Chai by Mira. Popular eateries Pure, Shoryu Carnaby and Pastaio will be debuting their new autumn menus. Meanwhile, Ugly Dumpling’s executive chef Emilian Craciun will be offering a tasting menu on the first and last Sunday of September.
American diner favourite Dirty Bones will be offering customers the chance to ‘Pimp your Dog’ and customise their signature Yankee Dog. Pizza Pilgrims will be creating a special birthday pizza to mark their 7th year, as well as launching their new 100% biodegradable pasta straws. Meanwhile, Wright Brothers Soho will unveil a new selection of small plates and sustainable dishes, as well as their own gin. You can also head downstairs (and back in time) to 1940s cocktail den Cahoots, who will be entertaining and feeding guests with their ‘Squiffy picnic’ every Saturday.
Over 40 Carnaby restaurants, bars, cafes and pubs have signed up to the new Blue Turtle sustainability scheme in collaboration with ocean conservation organisation Project 0. The scheme aims to reduce consumption of single-use plastic and encourage business owners to embrace more sustainable practises.
- Carnaby Eats is taking place from 1 – 30 September 2019. At the streets in and around the Carnaby district of Soho. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Carnaby London website.
Popping up in bustling Farringdon this August will be a secret hideaway cocktail haven. Hidden from passers-by behind ivy-covered walls will be the Fentimans Secret Spritz Garden.
The city oasis will be a destination for after-work drinks and weekend cocktails during the warm August evenings. Step inside a garden full of plants, medicinal herbs and a 200-year-old olive tree to shade under. Guests can sneak through the privet hedge to find the hidden bar, before enjoying a drink on the jasmine-trailed swing seat and gazing at a lemon-filled fountain. As the sun sets, garlands of fairy lights with light up the space, which will be filled with the sounds of live jazz and acoustic music.
Botanical drink company Fentimans have teamed up with mixology expert Dino Koletsas (The Langham, Bourne & Hollingsworth, Callooh Callay) to create a special spritz menu. Visitors can enjoy a redefined series of spritzes featuring Fentimans tonic waters and top British ingredients. The full range of Fentimans tonics (from Valencian Orange to Pink Rhubarb) will be mixed with homemade herbal infusions and liqueurs, fresh fruit and aperitifs. Guests will be able to garnish their own spritzes with rosemary, sage and lavender from the garden. Throughout the three-week pop-up, the Spritz Garden will also host masterclasses, such as floristry, flower pressing, Limoncello making and collages.
- The Fentimans Secret Spritz Garden, Clerkwenwell. Nearest station: Farringdon (5 min walk). Open from 7 – 30 August 2019. Opening hours Wed-Fri 5pm-11pm, Sat 12pm-11pm and Bank Holiday Sunday 12pm-11pm. For more information and the location, visit the Secret Spritz Garden website.
For a guide to what’s on in London in August, click here.
Gigi’s Hoxton review: Summer cocktails and delicious bites at a versatile new dining, drinking and music venue
Hoxton Square is one of my favourite areas in Shoreditch because it offers what appeals to me about the area (e.g. nightlife), but also avoids the traffic and pollution that venues in Old Street, Great Eastern Street, etc, have to put up with. I’ve been socialising in Hoxton Square since the late ’90s (showing my age here!) and always thought of the area as a little nightlife enclave with great bars and a nice atmosphere.
A new addition to the East End foodie and entertainment scene is Gigi’s Hoxton. The versatile venue is an all-day restaurant, bar and music venue with an alfresco terrace and a basement sister space Hoxton Underbelly hosting comedy, live music, DJs and club nights. Taking over the former Zigfrid von Underbelly, Gigi’s Hoxton is the latest venture from Giovanna Hussain, the woman behind some of East London’s favourite venues, including The Corner Shop and The Grapevine in Shoreditch, and The Rocksteady in Dalston. I went along with a friend last week to check it out.
As a previous customer of Zigfrid (although my last visit was some years ago), I couldn’t believe how different the venue looked. The bar had been moved from its original location and the vibrant murals by Kate Philipson had really brightened up the place. The finished look is a mix of industrial and vintage-esque chic, with colourful chairs, zinc tables, a green stone bar and neon lights.
Upon arrival, we headed straight for the bar and mulled over the cocktail list. Being a balmy day, my natural choice was an Aperol Spritz, while my friend couldn’t resist the Espresso Martini (on tap!). As a seasoned Aperol Spritz fan, I’m pleased to say Gigi’s got it spot on with the right mix of bitter and sweetness. I’ve found quite a few bars/pubs don’t get the balance right, so it’s always good to see a venue getting it right.
The ground floor is essentially a L shape so we headed to the narrower section at the back to grab a table and two leather chairs. Gigi’s menus have been created by Head Chef Antonio Mollo and are influenced by his Italian heritage, as well as classic British dishes. We tried a selection of canapes, derived from the main menu, and were impressed by the creativity and flavour. One particular stand-out was the bruschetta. Although I’ve eaten the dish often over the years, I must praise this one for being so fresh and rich in taste. Other highlights were the crispy polenta, mushroom and taleggio fondue and the tortilla taco with homemade guacamole. I’ve got to mention the pea soup, Grey Goose le citron vodka sour cream shot which was a pretty unique taste for me, but I quite liked it.
Aside from the drinking and food, one of Gigi’s USPs is its music scene. After initially being treated to some soulful house and classic R&B tracks from the DJ, we were entertained with some great live music from the Blue Lion Band.
Overall, I think Gigi’s Hoxton is a great addition to east London’s nightlife. The food and drinks were equally good. The venue had a great ambiance and the DJs and live music really completed the evening. I’ll be back.
- Gigi’s Hoxton, 11 Hoxton Square, N1 6NU. Nearest stations: Hoxton or Old Street. Open Mon–Thu: 12pm–1am, Fri: 12pm–3am, Sat: 10am–3am, Sun: 10am–12am. For more information, visit the Gigi’s Hoxton website.
For more of Metro Girl’s restaurant reviews, click here.
City views, Rosé and weekend brunches as Le Pont de la Tour launches La Maison du Rosé summer terrace
There’s something about a warm summer night which makes me want to reach for a glass of rose. If that sounds right up your street, there’s a special drinking destination by the banks of the Thames this season. French riverside restaurant Le Pont de la Tour is teaming up with the Minuty Rosé brand to launch a rosé terrace for the summer, La Maison du Rosé.
With stunning views of Tower Bridge and the City of London, La Maison du Rosé will be a sun trap on a warm day. Visitors can enjoy the alfresco surroundings while sipping on Minuty’s prized Rosés, Fruits de Mer platters, unique rosé tastings and weekend rosé brunch menus. The terrace will be adorned with pastel pink colours, pink flowers and Insta-ready decorations. Expect an outdoor bar, a decorative canopy and plenty of blossom and flowers.
Throughout the summer, Le Pont de la Tour will offer Rosé packages with a glass/bottle of Rosé with fresh Fruits de Mer platters. The terrace will also host weekly Rosé brunch on Saturdays, which includes three courses and a bottle of Rose. The brunch menu features Eggs Royale or Benedict, followed by Cornish Blonde skate wing with shrimps and cucumber grenobloise and wild garlic risotto with confit hen egg and parmesan crisps and finally, to finish, French toast with salted caramel and vanilla ice cream or a refreshing lemon tart with meringue.
La Maison du Rosé will also offer guests the chance to enjoy wine tastings and masterclasses on Rosé from the Minuty vineyards on the French Riviera. The terrace will offer a variety of Minuty rosés including the limited-edition Côtes de Provence 2018.
- La Maison du Rosé is open now until 31 August 2019. At Pont de la Tour, 36D Shad Thames, SE1 2YE. Nearest station: London Bridge. Rose brunches every Saturday: £150 for four people, three courses and a bottle of Minuty Rosé. For more information and booking, visit Le Pont de La Tour website.
For a guide to what’s on in London in August, click here.
Rooftop destination is back at Tobacco Quay for summer 2019.
One thing I love about the coming of summer is the opening of London’s rooftop bars. With such an amazing skyline in our capital, along with the lovely feeling of the sun on your face, it’s not surprising these sky-high destinations are a big draw over the warmer seasons. This week, one of my favourite summer destinations, Skylight, opened for the new season with its latest makeover. I went along to the launch in Wapping and checked out the attractions, cocktails, and – of course – the views.
Spread over three floors, the venue combines drinking, (casual) dining, lawn games and events, such as live sport screenings. The venue is well prepared for the unpredictable British summer, with plenty of zones undercover should the weather turn for the worst. Returning this summer are the croquet lawns and Palenque courts. My friend and I enjoyed a few games of croquet, which is significantly harder than it looks, but provided lots of laughs. In addition this year, Skylight has also added some table tennis.
Skylight offers three bars over the different levels, serving a mix of summery cocktails, such as Jalisco Sky, Raspberry Rum Margherita, Apple Sunrise and the Gin Basil Spice. There are also more traditional options, including wine, Bacardi spirits, Moet e Chandon champagne and Sharps Offshore, Staropramen, Wolf Rock IPA, Blue Moon and Aspal Cyder on tap. When you get hungry, there’s two stalls YIRO and Flipside, serving up delicious street food. I couldn’t resist some halloumi fries.
This summer sees even more seating and bookable options than previous years, with daybeds and garden booths available for intimate groups. There is more raised seating so even more people can get a better look at the views, while added greenery gives an urban garden vibe. Sports fans will be able to watch big games, including the FA Cup Final, Wimbledon and the Rugby World Cup. There will also be special events throughout the summer, including Hendricks Summer Solstice party (21 June), Gay Day, Opera and Dog Day.
Skylight was originally launched in 2017 on top of Tobacco Dock’s multi-story car park. Located just east of the City of London a short walk from Shadwell station (only a few minutes on the DLR from Bank), it gives stunning views over the capital’s skyline, with sights such as the Gherkin and The Shard visible. As well as its summer season, it is also a popular winter spot, with a rooftop ice rink on the roof.
- Skylight, Tobacco Quay (Pennington Street entrance), Wapping, E1CW 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell (DLR/TFL Rail) or Wapping. Open from 2 May until (TBA) September 2019. Open Thu-Fri 5pm-11pm, Sat-Sun 12pm-11pm. Free entry, but large groups over 10 are recommended to book. Croquet: Indoor £25, Outdoor £35 (45 min game), Petanque: £15 (2-4 players), Table tennis £5 for 30 mins. Day beds and booths available for booking from £70 for up to 10 people. For more information, visit the Skylight London website.
For a guide to what’s on in London in September, click here.
A special dining experience inspired by the hit fantasy drama.
Game Of Thrones is the show on everyone’s lips right now as the eighth and final series is currently hitting screens. Whether you’re aligned with the Lanisters or the Starks, there’s a special dining experience that could be right up your Westeros. Dinner Is Coming is a new immersive spoof dining adventure inspired by the hit fantasy drama. Guests can expect an exciting mix of theatre, comedy, food and murder in the tunnels below Waterloo station. The world of the Several Kingdoms will be created deep in the Vaults.
Dinner Is Coming, which launched in early April, tells the story of a marriage between heir Jaffrey Bearathon and Margarine Trywell. Guests will come together to celebrate the union of two families with a sumptuous feast. However, it won’t be smooth sailing, as there’s always a chance of violence or murder. Be prepared to pledge your love and loyalty to your kingdom.
The show is a new production from The Vaults’ creative team and directed by Sam Carrack. The fabulous feast has been designed by chefs Chavdar Todorov and Steven Estevez. Along with the food, guests will also enjoy a specially-designed drinks menu. Visitors will be invited to dress in accordance with their chosen house.
- Dinner Is Coming is on from 9 April – 14 July 2019. The Vaults, Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN. Nearest station: Waterloo or Lambeth North. Tickets: £35-£55 (inc booking fees). Runs 3 hours. Bar open until late on Fri and Sats. Dress code: Lords and ladies of Easteros. Ages 18 and over. All dietary requirements catered for. For more information and tickets, visit The Vaults website.
Few would disagree that The Savoy is one of London’s most iconic hotels. It’s been standing on Strand for 130 years. A byword for luxury, the five-star hotel isn’t just for visitors to the capital, it also has a host of dining, drinking and entertainment options for Londoners. When it comes to The Savoy’s relationship with music, it goes way back. A host of musical legends, including Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne and George Gershwin have performed in the hotel, while a more contemporary act Duran Duran have shot a music video in its hallowed halls.
Today, music is still very much part of The Savoy experience. Launching this spring is a new evening entertainment series. Live At The Savoy will kick off on 24 May 2019 in the hotel’s Thames Foyer nightly.
American singer Judi Jackson is launching the series as The Savoy’s Musician in Residence. The acclaimed jazz vocalist will begin on Wednesday 24 April and three further dates. The Virginia-born performer has recently released her debut album Live In London and tours internationally. Jackson has collaborated with Warner Music’s George Moore and Michael League, member of Grammy award-winning band Snarky Puppy, and credits Wynton Marsalis and Mavis Staples among her influences.
Also performing during Live At The Savoy will be American-born and Liverpool based soul singer/songwriter Jalen N’Gonda. He was hailed as ‘a voice full of nuances and golden songs’ at the 2018 Montreux Jazz Talent Awards and opened for Motown legends Martha And The Vandellas in Liverpool in 2015.
- Live At The Savoy with Judi Jackson: 24 April, 24 May, 20 June and 25 July.
- Live At The Savoy with Jalen N’Gonda: 9 May, 16 May (and further dates).
During the entertainment, guests can feast on the new Thames Foyer evening menu, available from 7pm. It has been inspired by The Savoy’s famous 19th century chef Auguste Escoffer, who invented the Peach Melba. The menu is divided into three sections: Prolgue (7pm-8.30pm); Story (8.30pm-10.30pm) and Epilogue (conclusion). An extensive drinks list will also be on offer.
- Live At The Savoy takes place in the Thames Foyer. At The Savoy, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 0EZ. Nearest stations: Embankment, Charing Cross or Temple. Tickets: £25pp with additional minimum spend on food and drinks at £20pp. Tel: 020 7420 2111 or email. For more information, visit The Savoy website.
Creative cocktails, fabulous food and house parties galore.
Long before The Little Blue Door, there was The Little Yellow Door. The original, cult pop-up entertained tens of thousands of revellers with cocktails, food and fun during its first three years in its first home in Notting Hill Gate. Following the opening of its successor The Little Blue Door in Fulham last year, The Little Yellow Door is returning to Notting Hill with a permanent home.
TLYD’s second outing will be situated at All Saints Road, around the corner from its original home. The flatmates are moving into their new abode and are ready to welcome guests to join their never-ending house party. To those uninitiated, The Little Yellow Door is based on a fictional flatshare, home to an eclectic mix of flatmates. Guests are invited to drop by the party pad to enjoy cocktails, sharing plates, boozy brunches and late-night dancing.
The Little Yellow Door is set over two floors and is inspired by its first outing with colourful and quirky décor, mismatched furniture and the original yellow door. Guests can mingle in the open plan kitchen and living room, with cosy sofas and a fireplace for those colder evenings. The experimental cocktail list is inspired by the flatmates’ DVD collection. Previous visitors will recognise boozy concoctions such as Coffee And Cigarettes and Kill Bill (Earl Grey infused Bombay Sapphire Gin, Lemon Curd and Thyme).
Meanwhile, foodies will be in for a feast with TLYD offering a monthly, changing seasonal menu. Every month will feature two of the flatmates using their national cuisine in a cook-off, with each winner offering more culinary treats the following month. Among the grub on offer includes Salt and Pepper Squid with Lettuce Wraps, Lime Leaf and Lemongrass Dipping Sauce; Woodfired Bavette Steak with Chimichurri and a Horseradish Cream or Shallot Sauce; and Pork Belly and Peanut Bao Buns with House Pickles. Meanwhile, every weekend the flatmates will be hosting bottomless brunches on Saturday and Sunday roasts.
If you’re up for a late-night party, guests can sneak away to the secret hideaway downstairs. The Flatmates’ Den is open until 2am and features retro games, backgammon and poker tables, while the music corner offers instruments, record players and live DJs.
- The Little Yellow Door, 6-8 All Saints Road, Notting Hill, W11 1HH. Nearest station: Westbourne Park or Ladbroke Grove. For more information, visit The Little Yellow Door website. To book, WhatsApp: 07801 267 854 or email TLYD
East London drinking and dining destination Number 90 is celebrating its fifth party with its biggest weekender ever. The Hackney Wick hangout will be hosting a mini festival over 4 – 7 April 2019. Expect DJ sets, gastro delights, new cocktails, competitions and art… and the festivities are free!
Located by the canal, the Hackney venue will kick things off on Thursday night with music from Stranger Than Paradise Records. The party really gets started on the Friday with Dutch DJ and producer Tom Trago hitting the decks, as well as Fabric’s new resident DJ Anna Wall and all-female collective SISU spinning until sunrise.
On Saturday evening, iconic record store Phonica Records will be hosting the festivities along with The London Disco Society, Late Night Tales and Vicious Creatures keeping the party going until 6am. During the night, revellers can expect a special surprise from Number 90’s neighbour space Studio 9294. Finally, the celebrations will wind down with a chilled Sunday. Enjoy a boozy brunch with Tropical Disco Records providing the Sunday soundtrack.
- Number 90 Bar & Kitchen’s 5th Birthday party takes place on 4 – 7 April 2019. Number 90 Bar & Kitchen, 90 Wallis Road, Hackney Wick, E9 5LN. Nearest station: Hackney Wick. Open Thu and Sun 12pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-6am. Free entry. For more information, visit Number 90’s website.
For the latest what’s on guide in London, click here.