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The Little Blue Door review: Quirky cocktails and delicious grub hanging with the flatmates

Little Blue Door kitchen © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Grab a table in the cosy kitchen for the legendary supper clubs at The Little Blue Door

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

A Shaun Of The Dead blender cocktail

Last week, I went along to the launch of The Little Blue Door. The opening is a sequel of sorts to The Little Yellow Door, which opened as a pop-up in Notting Hill, but ended up remaining for three years. The concept is a flatshare, where guests can hang out with their pals over cocktails and food and make new friends. Setting up camp in Fulham, this double-fronted property has been transformed from a traditional shop, with a hallway, kitchen, living room, study and even a laundry room, which really gives the venue a homely feel.

Walking down Fulham Road, it would easy to walk straight past TLBD, with no signage except its simple blue door. Entering the venue, you’re in a lovely entrance hall, complete with grandfather clock and a cosy window seat. Straight-ahead is the kitchen – the hub of all house parties. I’ve got to admit I suffered some interior design envy at the kitchen-bar hybrid with its colourful tiles, where you can order frozen cocktails, served in a mini blender. I had a fabulously fruity ‘Shaun of the Dead’ cocktail (Bacardi rum blend, raspberry, cherry and lime). The kitchen features several tables, which will play host to their legendary supper clubs, which were constantly sold out for three years at their predecessor The Little Yellow Door.

Little Blue Door © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

The hallway features a cosy window seat for intimate chats

When you’re ready to party, the main action is in the living room. It’s an expansive space with a long bar, lots of comfy sofas, armchairs and stools, surrounded by the artwork and eccentric decorations of the housemates, including a taxidermy fox. It took my friends and I a while to realise the ‘vase of flowers’ nearby was actually a hidden cocktail full of straws, so we were invited to have a drink of the flower water, which tasted great! During the evening, we sampled some canapes, including lobster, mezze and the absolutely delicious Cam ‘N’ Bert’ (Baked Camembert served with Truffle Honey, Roast Pear and Sugared Almonds).

The domestic theme follows throughout with the hidden study available for private groups, with gaming consoles and safes for regulars to keep some surprises hidden. Meanwhile, one of the big talking points was the Prosecco vending machine in the back hallway. There’s no need to wait at the bar as you can get your own mini bottle of classic or rose Prosecco in seconds from the machine. Overall, it’s a great venue for catching up with friends. The décor managed to be both homely and stylish and really gave a welcoming feel. The cocktails and food were fabulous, so I’m really looking forward to returning for one of their supper clubs or bottomless brunches.

  • The Little Blue Door, 871-873 Fulham Road, Fulham, SW6 5HP. Nearest station: Parsons Green. Open: Wed-Thurs: 6pm-12pm, Fri: 6pm-1.30am, Sat: 11.30am-1.30am, Sun: 11.30am-6pm. Tel or Whatsapp: 07538 229 096. Email: Justknock@thelittlebluedoor.co.uk. For more information, visit The Little Blue Door website.
Little Blue Door prosecco © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

If you need an urgent Prosecco fix, head to the vending machine

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

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The Wild Wild West comes to West London at the Moonshine Saloon

Moonshine Saloon © Matt Martin photography

Moonshine Saloon is an immersive new pop-up bar coming to the King’s Road
© Matt Martin photography

Launching just in time for summer is an exciting new drinking concept. Moonshine Saloon will bring an immersive Wild West experience to the streets of West London. The pop-up BYOB bar comes from the same team behind the hugely popular Alcotraz. Launching on 31 May, Moonshine Saloon are pitching their waggons on the King’s Road for a limited three-month run.

Moonshine Saloon © Matt Martin photography

Guests will be invited to dress like a cowboy
© Matt Martin photography

The pop-up will let wannabe cowboys step into the Wild West’s undercover world of moonshine. Arriving at the entrance with their own booze in hand, apprentice moonshiners will head down a street that looks straight out of the dusty old west. They’ll stop with a tailor to get measured up for cowboy gear and Stetson hats so they blend in and don’t attract the Sheriff’s attention.

Once, they are suited and Stetson-ed up, guests will be given exclusive access into the shadiest spirit making business as they are welcomed in by the King of the Moonshiners. Heading downstairs to the Saloon itself, apprentice Moonshiners can try their hand at card and dice games, share their wildest stories of life in the West and enjoy their personalised moonshine cocktails. The Saloon’s talented moonshine pros – aka the mixologists – will be creating your own special cocktail with your choice of liquor. Those who successfully manage to evade the long arm of the law, can also stop for a refreshment in the General Store before heading back to their ranch.

Founder Sam Shearman explained: “With Alcotraz we created London’s first immersive cocktail bar, which placed guests at the centre of the action and allowed for theatre to take place around them whilst delicious cocktails were enjoyed. Moonshine Saloon will take this to a completely new scale, creating a new world as opposed to simply a new bar!”

  • Moonshine Saloon is open from 31 May – 25 August 2018. At 535 Kings Road, Fulham, SW10 0SZ. Nearest station: Fulham Broadway. Open Wed-Fri 6.15pm-10.15pm, Sat 12.15pm-11pm. Booking fee: £33.99 (includes 4 cocktails from brought drink of choice and 1hr 45m inside the saloon). Bookings can be made on the Moonshine Saloon website or DesignMyNight.

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

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Aperol Spritz and alfresco summer fun at Spritz & Giggles pop-up

© Spritz & Giggles

The Spritz & Giggles pop-up will be open in Broadgate until mid August

Aperol Spritz has grown rapidly in popularity in recent years and it’s certainly become my favourite tipple on a hot summer evening. With the weather nicely heating up, it’s perfect timing for the launch of an Aperol Spritz pop-up.

Throughout the summer, Londoners can relax with their favourite apéritif or cocktail at Spritz & Giggles. Open until early August, the bar is located in Broadgate Circle, near Liverpool Street, with indoor and alfresco seating. As well as plenty of drinking opportunities, there will also be entertainment and sports (including World Cup) screenings. The venue is full of colourful décor with lots of summery foliage with fun stations such as table tennis and foosball tables.

Leading the menu is the iconic Aperol Spritz, as well as the Ambra Spritz (Peroni Ambra, Aperol, Peach Syrup and Cinzano Prosecco) and Negroni. There will also be frozen cocktails for those extra hot days, including Pina Colada (Appleton Estate Signature Blend Rum, Koko Kanu Rum, Pineapple Juice and Coconut Cream) or Strawberry Daiquiri. If cocktails aren’t your thing, there is also a selection of beers, ciders, wine, Prosecco and Champagne on offer.

  • Spritz & Giggles, 37 Broadgate Circle, City of London, EC2M 2QS. Nearest station: Liverpool Street or Moorgate. Open now until early August 2018. Open Mon-Tues 4pm-11pm, Wed-Sat 1pm-12am, Sun closed. For more information, visit the website, tel: 0207 590 5257 or email: info@spritzandgiggles.co.uk.
Aperol Spritz © Spritz & Giggles

The pop-up features indoor and alfresco seating for whatever the weather

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

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Houses parties, roasts, cocktails and games at The Little Blue Door

© The Little Blue Door

Experimental cocktails and board games at the Little Blue Door

The team behind one of London’s most memorable pop-ups is reuniting. Some of the flatmates from Notting Hill hangout The Little Yellow Door (TLYD) will be moving into together a few miles away on Fulham Road. The Little Blue Door will be opening for a housewarming on 2 May 2018 with their special brand of cocktails, food and fun.

Located in SW6, The Little Blur Door is a versatile, late-night neighbourhood bar and restaurant. The concept is a fictional flatshare, with the housemates welcoming you in for weekly parties and social soirees. Expect the unexpected, such as drinking cocktails out of a cafetière, dancing on tables or sampling an international tapas-style menu. Stepping behind that blue door, the flatmates’ new home will be bigger and brighter than their yellow predecessor. The venue will be decked out like a real home, with mismatched furniture and quirky ornaments and pictures from the flatmates’ world travels.

Throughout the week will be series of events, such as Two’s Company nights for friends and double dates, Thursday singalongs around the piano and the emoji menu, where guests can order food and drink by texting their favourite characters. On Friday and Saturday, the flatmates will be hosting their legendary dinner parties, which sold out for three years straight back at TLYD. Expect an evening of free-flowing fun, food and booze with a host of dinner party games.

© The Little Blue Door

The eclectic menu has been inspired by the flatmates’ recent travels

So foodies, what can you expect behind TLBD? Well, the menu has been inspired by the flatmates’ latest travels, such as Mezze Dishes served with Pea and Dill Falafel and Cranberry; or Carrot and Cumin Slaw and Crudité Platters with Beetroot Hummus, Zhoug and Feta; Garlic Whipped Avocado, Chilli and Coriander and Labaneh; Smoked Aubergine, Cucumber and Shallots. Some old favourites will be back on the menu, including Kami’s Hot Wings (Cayenne Glazed Wings served with a Blue Cheese Dressing and House Pickles) and Cam ‘N’ Bert’ (Baked Camembert served with Truffle Honey, Roast Pear and Sugared Almonds). In honour of the newest flatmate, American hotshot Hunter, there will be some East Coast treats such as Gravalax NYC deli style with Dill Sauce, Cucumber, Black Radish and Nigella Seed Salad, served with bagel crisps, and Salted Peanut Caramel Chocolate Fondant served with a Reese’s Biscuit. Meanwhile, the hangover-fighting brunches will kick off the weekend mornings, with bottomless food and drinks, an egg station and a BIY (Blend It Yourself) cocktail. On Sunday afternoon, you can head to TLBD for a traditional roast with all the trimmings, while enjoying their ‘Sunday Papers’ program of movies, sport, debates and retro gaming.

When it comes to cocktails, there will be creative concoctions inspired by flatmates’ favourite things. Coffee and Cigarettes is a smooth espresso martini served with a surprise on the side, while Crimes of Passion is a twist on a Pornstar Martini served with a sweet treat. There’s also a private hideaway in the study, with pool table, fancy dress, retro consoles and karaoke for those who ask nicely.

  • The Little Blue Door, 871-873 Fulham Road, Fulham, SW6 5HP. Nearest station: Parsons Green. Open: Wed-Thurs: 6pm-12pm, Fri: 6pm-1.30am, Sat: 11.30am-1.30am, Sun: 11.30am-6pm. Tel or Whatsapp: 07538 229 096. Email: Justknock@thelittlebluedoor.co.uk. For more information, visit The Little Blue Door website.

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

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Brick & Liquor Clapham review: Creative cocktails in a friendly neighbourhood bar

Marshmallow Martinis at Brick & Liquor

When it comes to nightlife, the Junction and High Street parts of Clapham are well represented with a huge choice. However, the Clapham South part of town has been somewhat neglected… until recently. Last summer, the team behind successful Brick & Liquor in Tooting opened a sister bar on Balham Hill. A friend and I went along to check it out just before Christmas for a festive cocktail session.

The bar is styled like a Brooklyn loft, with exposed brick, natural wood and industrial furniture. Brick & Liquor is billed as a neighbourhood bar, giving a more friendly and local vibe than other cocktail bars, which can be guilty of focusing too much on the drinks and not enough on the customers. However, Brick & Liquor certainly delivers on the hospitality, the staff were friendly, approachable and certainly know their stuff when it comes to mixology.

The drinks menu features classic cocktails with a twist, alongside a selection of wines and bubbly. We started off-menu with their festive cocktail – a Marshmallow Martini (Absolut Vodka, Café Cartron, Vanilla Carton, milk and cream, finished with toasted s’mores and a melted hazelnut chocolate garnish). The marshmallow proved messy, but satisfactorily delicious and gooey. The cocktail itself was like drinking a dessert, with the chocolate and hazelnut garnish giving a Ferrero Rocher-esque flavour.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

A Salted Caramel Espresso Martini and Californication

After our festive first round, we returned to the main cocktail menu, with my friend opting for one of their most popular concoctions – the Salted Caramel Espresso Martini (Absolut vodka, espresso, cafe liquor, vanilla, salted caramel and a hint of orange). My pal is a regular connoisseur of Espresso Martinis and it certainly met her high standards as she loved it. Meanwhile, I opted for a Californication (Prosecco and homemade strawberry and mint purée), a refreshing and light cocktail which was very easy to drink.

Overall, we were impressed. Brick & Liquor is a great addition to the area, which was crying out for a good drinking destination. The atmosphere was warm and friendly and the cocktails were brilliant, they were certainly a step up from what you would expect from a local cocktail bar. Although we didn’t eat on this occasion, there is a sharing plates food menu, featuring dishes such as arancini, ribs, lamb skewers and sweet potato fries, or a brunch menu on weekends, so I will have to return to check it out.

  • Brick & Liquor, 47 Balham Hill, Clapham, SW12 9DR. Nearest station: Clapham South. Open Mon-Thur 5pm-11pm, Fri 3pm-1am, Sat 10am-1am, Sun 10am-11pm. For more information, visit the Brick & Liquor website.

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Where to get merry this Christmas: Guide to London’s festive cocktails

Skylon on the South Bank have looked to the night sky and the planets to inspire their winter cocktail menu.

As we approach Christmas, our social lives are busier than ever as we meet up with friends, family and work colleagues to celebrate the end of another year. While mulled wine can easily be found in many pubs and bars, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. With some of the world’s best cocktail bars in the capital, it’s no wonder that London’s mixologists have created some special festive concoctions for the Christmas period.

Here’s Metro Girl’s guide to the capital’s best festive cocktails this 2017 season.

  • Skylon

South Bank bar and restaurant Skylon have looked to the night sky for inspiration with their festive cocktail menu. Each drink is based on the eight planets of the Solar System. Mars (Campari, Ciroc infused hibiscus, Martini Rosso), Jupiter (Tanqueray 10, Staibano creamy limoncello, mulled wine reduction), Mercury (Ciroc infused thyme, Masticha, Lemongrass, Sherbet Prosecco), Uranus (Ciroc, passion fruit and chilly syrup), Venus (Ciroc, truffle oil, cacao blanco, Prosecco), Saturn (Zacapa 23 infused caramel, Liquor 43, angostura bitter), Neptune (Ciroc, Blue Caracao infused pineapple, lemon grass sugar syrup) and Earth (J.W Blue label, Hennessey fine cognac, red and dry vermouth, angostura bitter). Drinks range from £12.50-£14.50. On sale until 31 January 2018.

Skylon, Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo.

© One Aldwych

A Christmas Cheer at One Aldwych Lobby Bar

  • The Lobby Bar @ One Aldwych

Enjoy a touch of luxury at the lavish Lobby Bar at the One Aldwych Hotel. They’ve teamed up with Perrier-Jouët Brut Champagne to create five limited-edition drinks. Christmas Club – inspired by Home Alone. (Home-made orange liqueur, raspberry syrup, fresh lemon juice, topped up with Perrier-Jouët Brut), Golden Snitch – inspired by Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Havana 7 rum, Antica Formula, Lapponia blueberry liqueur, blueberry cheesecake flavour, sugar syrup, fresh lemon juice, topped up with Perrier-Jouët Brut), Carol Fizz – inspired by A Christmas Carol (Plymouth gin, rhubarb liqueur, framboise liqueur, elderflower cordial, fresh lemon juice, gold leaf, topped up with Perrier-Jouët Brut), Nutcracker (Beluga Russian vodka, fig liqueur, green apple purée, drops of cardamom bitters, topped up with Perrier-Jouët Brut) and Royal Santa – inspired by Miracle on 34th Street (Home-made hibiscus liqueur, fresh pomegranate juice, cinnamon foam, topped with Perrier-Jouët Brut).

One Aldwych, 1 Aldwych, Covent Garden, WC2B 4BZ. Nearest stations: Covent Garden or Temple.

  • Charlotte’s W5

Cosy up in Charlotte’s Winter Terrace from Sipsmith, featuring blankets, fairy lights, hot cocktails and roasted chestnuts. Winter Sloe Gin (Sipsmith Sloe Gin, cinnamon, star anise and apple), Winter Negroni Sipsmith (London Dry Gin, Campari, sweet vermouth and rooibos tea) and the Hot Espresso Martini (Sipsmith Sipping Vodka, Electric coffee and vanilla cream).

Charlotte’s W5, Longfield Avenue, Ealing, W5 2UQ. Nearest station: Ealing BroadwayRead the rest of this entry

Mix your own concotion at the Schweppes Alchemy Bar this London Cocktail Week

© Schweppes

Explore mixology at the Schweppes Alchemy Bar pop-up

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.

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Merchant House Fleet Street review: Go on an exploration of whisky in a hidden cocktail bar

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

A Mulligan’s Travels (left) and a Brooklyn (right) at Merchant House Fleet Street

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.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

A Rose Without Thorns (left) and a Karyukai (right)

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.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

A sweet Émigré (left) and a strong Sazerac (right)

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.
© Merchant House

Cosy: Merchant House features a white marble bar, lots of plants and green velvet sofas and bar stools giving a subtle nod to the Highlands and Emerald Isle

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Nine Lives review: Tropical vibes and exotic concoctions at London Bridge’s zero waste cocktail bar

© Nine Lives

Nine Lives is a tropical subterranean drinking den a short walk from London Bridge station

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

A Kuti Bird cocktail (Vodka, tropical triple-sec, pineapple, Aperol)

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.

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The General Store review: Coffee, cocktails, cake and chat at Highbury’s new all-day venue

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Gluten-free chocolate and raspberry cake at The General Store

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.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

English Garden (left) and a General Store Mai Tai (right)

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The General Store is located next door to the recently relaunched The Garage music venue

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.

Square Meal

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