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
- 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.
- 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.
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
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
This year’s extended London Cocktail Week sees more of the capital’s best bars offer £6 cocktails.
October is one of London’s busiest months as its jam-packed with special events and festivals. However, my favourite has to be London Cocktail Week. This year, the mixology extravaganza is celebrating its 10th anniversary so has been extended from the usual seven days to a whopping 10 – lucky us!
To those uninitiated, London Cocktail Week is run by DrinkUp London, who have rounded up some of the capital’s best bars, pubs and restaurants to take part. Across the city, there will be workshops, masterclasses, pairing menus and tastings. This year, the Cocktail Village will be in Brick Lane again, where a host of pop-up bars from your favourite booze brands and drinking destinations will be setting up shop.
To participate, get a £10 pass (on the DrinkUpLdn app) so you can enjoy special, bespoke LCW cocktails for just £6 each from hundreds of participating bars across the capital. You can also find details of workshops, tastings and special events to further explore.
- 1 – 5 October : The Botanist Gin and Hunter Gather Cook
The Botanist Gin’s brand ambassador Abigail Clephane is teaming up with Nick Weston to create special pairing menus. A series of Wild Dinners will take guests on a culinary journey of wild and seasonal dishes paired with foraged gin cocktails. Expect deer, pigeon breast and phesants, with drinks such as Fig Leaf, Nettle Gimlet or Truffle Martini. The evenings will include a five-course meal.
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.
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.
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.
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
For the latest what’s on guide in London, click here.
With the rising popularity of Veganuary and more people making sustainable lifestyle choices, veganism is becoming more mainstream. With that in mind, Londoners are seeking more options when drinking or dining out. For a short time only, Dirty Martini have a limited-edition vegan cocktail menu. On offer until the end of March, the menu features a choice of five dairy-free, boozy creations, all priced at £9.
I went along to the Covent Garden branch last week to try them out with a friend. Upon entering the subterranean space, we were given a cosy, leather booth in the corner which was perfect for a girlie catch-up over cocktails. Despite being a Tuesday night, the atmosphere had just the right amount of party with a DJ playing a mix of new and classic hits in the background. We dove straight into the new vegan menu, with my eye naturally being drawn to the gin cocktails. I ordered The Pink Garden (Beefeater gin, basil liqueur and beetroot shrub with pomegranate, raspberries and citrus), while my friend opted for the 24 Carrot Gold (Havana 3 year rum, green Chartreuse, carrot, ginger, mango, pineapple and citrus). The Pink Garden was a unique flavour – with the beetroot, pomegranate and basil really coming through strong. Surprisingly, the contrasting sweet and savoury flavours worked really well and it was my favourite concoction of the evening.
Next up, I continued with the mother’s ruin theme with a more traditional-esque cocktail – the Lemon and Ginger Collins – a modern twist on the Collins (Beefeater gin, elderflower, ginger and lime, topped with soda). It was refreshing and light and would make a fabulous drink at a spring or summer party. Meanwhile, my friend wanted a sweet treat with the Smooth Operator (Absolut vodka, Kahlua, vegan cream and vegan chocolate), which she declared was a delectable dream and was drunk very quickly!
Delicious drinks aside, we also ordered food to accompany our drinks – well it was a school night! Having ordered vegan cocktails, it was only right to go for the vegetarian sharing platter. The board included Mac & cheese bites; vegetable dumplings; grilled halloumi, vegetable & pesto kebabs; Korean vegetable samosas and grilled flatbreads with mint yoghurt and hummus. Despite being a carb fest, the food was perfectly cooked and wasn’t oily. I particularly loved the mac and cheese bites and the kebabs, they were a great accompaniment to our cocktails. Overall, we had a fabulous evening. The cocktails were experimentally excellent, while the food, service and ambiance were also brilliant.
- The special Vegan cocktail menu are available at all Dirty Martinis until 31 March 2019. London branches at Bishopsgate, Covent Garden, Hanover Square, Islington, Monument, St Paul’s and Minories. For more information, visit the Dirty Martini website.
For a guide to what’s on in London in March, click here.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar reviews, click here.
It’s nearly that time again as one of my favourite festivals returns to the capital. If you’re like me and can’t resist a cocktail, then you can’t miss this three-day mixology extravaganza.
Cocktails In The City is a bi-annual cocktail festival featuring some of London’s best bars all under one roof. This year, the spring edition of the event will be moving to the atmospheric tunnels underneath Waterloo station. The Vaults will be transformed into a maze of sensory drink experiences over 4 – 6 April 2019. Expect plenty of drinking establishments, hidden rooms and top mixologists showing off their skills as they compete to be crowned the best bar.
This year, CITC will be curating seven arches offering different drinking experiences:
- The Secret Garden
Discover a world full of flora and fauna, overflowing with plants and botanicals. Explore B&H Buildings’ sensory Greenhouse on the mezzanine where you can choose your garnishes from the hanging plants discover new botanical cocktails with Mr Fogg’s and enjoy a drink in the garden.
- The Good Times Vault
Your favourite party bars such as London Cocktail Club will be ready to play. The drinks are always strong, the music is always loud and the night is always young.
- The Experimental Lab
Learn from the famed industry mavericks driving the city’s cocktail trends. Marvel at their cocktail wizardry in the experimental lab and get a sneak peek of the innovative techniques used to create award-winning drinks. Read the rest of this entry