If you know your gin, then your taste buds are required to help find the world’s best gin. Graphic Bar in Soho are hosting the Gin Off 2018 awards to hunt down the finest ‘mother’s ruin’. Sixteen of the planet’s most exciting brands will be competing for the top honour in a series of heats.
Each gin brand will put forward a mixologist to create a cocktail that makes the most of their tipple. The rules state the cocktail must be served in a disposable vessel, so expect to see drinks served in quirky alternatives, such as an ice glass or hollowed-out cucumber.
The Gin Off has been taking place annually since 2015 and Audemus Spirits’ Pink Pepper Gin have reigned supreme for the past two years. For 2018, Audemus have stepped out of the competition, leaving the field open for a new champion. Brands big and small are taking part this year, including Haymans, Beefeater, Fords, Marylebone, Copperhead, Nordes, NGinious, Brooklyn, Scapegrace, Nicholson, Daffy’s, Vidda, Boxer, Thomas Dakin, Monkey 47 and Bols.
Round 1 has already taken place on 30 April, but there’s three more rounds before the semi-finals and final take place in November. For this exciting competition, it’s the guests who have the power. Each gin lover is given a polling card before going on to sample four different cocktails and voting for their favourite. The overall winner will be crowned with a Copper Still trophy and will be featured on the Graphic Bar’s 2019 cocktail menu. Graphic Bar is a stylish, contemporary bar located in Soho and boasts a selection of over 300 world-class gins.
The remaining fixtures in the 2018 Gin Off are:
Round 2: 21 May – Haymans, Daffy’s, NGinious, Scapegrace.
Round 3: 25 June – Bols, Nordes, Monkey 47, Brooklyn.
Round 4: 30 July – Copperhead, Marylebone, Boxer, Fords.
Semi-final: 24 September.
Semi-final: 29 October.
Final: 26 November.
- The Gin Off takes place on Mondays once a month until November 2018. At the Graphic Bar, 4 Golden Square, Soho, W1F 9HT. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. Tickets: £10 (include 4 gin cocktails). From 6pm-9pm on relevant dates. Tickets available through Eventbrite or email email@example.com. For more information, visit the Graphic Bar website.
For a guide to what’s on in London in May, click here.
Last week, I ended up dining in Soho’s hottest new opening by accident. A friend and I had been at a launch party so were feeling peckish after canapés failed to satisfy our hunger. Walking down Frith Street, we spotted Freakscene, a pan-Asian fusion restaurant which opened just a month ago. The bar-style seating overlooking the kitchen gave the venue a really buzzy feel and easily pulled us inside. We grabbed two stools and were immediately hit with the amazing scents coming from the Kobata grill. I’ve visited South East Asia quite a lot and the love the hawker open-kitchen style so this really appealed to me.
Freakscene’s arrival in Soho comes after a hugely successful pop-up in Farringdon from Chef Scott Hallsworth and co-founder Phar Shaweewan. Like many, we were intrigued by the name and Phar told us it was named after a song by 90s grunge band Dinosaur Jr. Hallsworth was previously head chef at Nobu, Park Lane for eight years before finding Kurobuta Izakaya on the King’s Road so really know his stuff when it comes to Asian cuisine. The menu describes Freakscene’s dishes as ‘curious Asian plates’, which I interpreted as pan-Asian fusion tapas.
As you would expect, we started with drinks. As it was a warm night, I was attracted to the Freak Smash (St Germaine, Gin, Grapes, Mint), a light and refreshing cocktail. We also ended our night with the saucily titled Wet Pussy shots (peach schnapps, vodka and a twist of lemon and lime), which was quite nostalgic as we reminisced drinking schnapps a lot as students in the ’90s.
When it came to the food, the menu is short and manageable, with a selection of around 12 dishes and sides to choose from. As we had eaten a bit already, we went for a small dinner than usual, but enjoyed everything so much, in hindsight probably could have ordered more. Like in a tapas restaurant, the various dishes just arrive as they’re cooked so your meal is stretched out into a relaxed and informal sitting. Our first dish to arrive was the Chili Crab and Avocado Wonton ‘Bombs’. Served in a crispy taco-esque wrap, the ‘bomb’ really packed a punch with a flavour explosion, with the avocado cooling down the heat of the chili. After our first bite, my friend and I actually looked each other and murmured ‘soooo good’ in unison. The crab bomb set the bar high for the remainder of our evening and we were not disappointed. My friend chowed down on the unusual Chicken-Fried Chicken with Peanut Soy and Picked Cucumber, which she thoroughly enjoyed. As a pescatarian, chicken was off-limits, but I was kept occupied by the Foil Baked Garlic Mushrooms with Sake, Soy and Butter, a tasty light side dish. The garlic was evident, but subtle so I wasn’t overpowered by the flavour. We finished with the Miso Grilled Black Cod Tacos with Sushi Rice and Scorched Red Chili Salsa, which was pretty special. As a huge fan of Mexican and Asian cuisine, this creative mix was a perfect combination.
I cannot recommend this place highly and have already been telling numerous friends to go. I am not exaggerating when I declare it was one of the best meals I’ve had in London in a long time. Every single dish was delicious and so different from anything I’ve tasted before. If you’re a fan of more informal dining in more of a bar atmosphere, than Freakscene is definitely for you. This venue is a cool and valuable addition to the Soho dining scene in a time where there’s too many chain restaurants creeping in for my liking. As Arnie says, I’ll be back… and soon!
- Freakscene, 54 Frith Street, Soho, W1D 4SL. Nearest station: Tottenham Court Road. Tel: 07561 394 497. Open Tues-Sat 12pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-10.30pm. For more information, visit the Freakscene website.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.
It’s time to kick off the new festival season and you don’t even have to worry about leaving London. This May, Carnaby are hosting a free, four-day festival celebrating fashion, lifestyle, food, drink and grooming. The Carnaby Style Weekender takes place on 10 – 13 May 2018, featuring a host of workshops, panel discussions and special events. There will be the chance to enjoy exclusive discounts and promotions in over 50 boutiques, bars and restaurants across the district’s 14 streets.
Model Jack McGuinness kicks off the Weekender on Thursday 10 May (6pm-8pm) with an exclusive fashion panel, featuring sartorial tips and where to find the best buys. Aspiring fashionistas can find how to get started in the industry in a talk hosted by independent Carnaby business owners James Scroggs of M.C. Overalls and Dane Butler of FINLAY London on Friday 11 May (6pm-7pm).
There will plenty of opportunities to update your look, including complimentary men’s haircuts from Pankhurst London. Ben Sherman and New Era hats will be offering complimentary monogramming and embroidery. You can also personalise a pair of the new Onitsuka Tiger trainers. Meanwhile, Nixon have created two limited-edition custom watches with only 20 available for sale. During the event, there will be exclusive discounts across the Carnaby brands, including Jack Wills, Pretty Green, Dr. Martens, OFFICE, Shinola, TOMS, Lazy Oaf and Skinnydip.
Ladies can head for a pamper with Urban Decay and Pixi offering free consultations and makeovers. Those who book in for a Detox Pedi at Cowshed can receive a complimentary Neville Travel Set, while Johnny’s Chop Shop will be marking their second birthday with live music and drinks on 10 May.
Throughout the Weekender, head to the Carnaby hub daily to try the free afternoon and evening workshops. Watch a carving demonstration in a Jamon Iberico masterclass at Charcuterie and tapas bar Dehesa. Make a collage with London’s unique souvenir store We Built This City and Collage Club London. Meanwhile, tequila lovers can learn how to make the perfect Margarita in a cocktail masterclass at Breddos Tacos’ bar. Pastaio are offering free Prosecco slushies with food orders after 9pm, while Senor Ceviche will be offering Peruvian Old Fashioneds for just £5. Wright Brothers Soho will be selling oysters for £1 each from 12pm-6pm.
- The Carnaby Style Weekender takes place from 10 – 13 May 2018. In the Carnaby Quarter on and surrounding Carnaby Street, Soho, W1F. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. To find out more about the weekender, visit the Carnaby London website or to book a spot on the workshops or talks, click here.
For a guide to what’s on in London in May, click here.
Soho is known for being the home to London’s creative, fashionable and flamboyant. So the area is the perfect location for a new pop-up concept. Setting up camp for four days this April will be Mrs And Mr Bateman, an art, fashion and interiors installation. Taking over the Victorian-fronted premises of 15 Bateman Street, The Batemans will transform the space into their ‘home’ for inspiration, discussions and shopping.
Mrs and Mr Bateman (note the Mrs appears first!) is a new project from three talented women – artist Selena Beaudry, vintage fashion dealer Clemmie Myers, and interior designer Natalie Tredgett. They have created the home of the fictitious Mrs and Mr Bateman, which is open to the public.
Throughout the four-day long house-warming, there will be plenty of creative opportunities for learning and inspiration. Events such as a panel discussion on creatives and their different processes, how social media and technology can be a good or bad thing for creativity, and how other art informs their work. There will also be an immersive creative writing evening (27 April, 6.30pm-8.30pm). Parents will be able to watch their children learn new skills (28 April, 11am-2pm), including hat-making classes with milliner Jess Collett, while Clemmie will be creating a fancy dress box for fantastical fun.
Art fans will have plenty to gaze upon, with Selena creating a wall installation specially for the show. Meanwhile, artists and makers from Europe and the US will be featured, including Barrie Benson, Jess Collett, Frederike von Cranach, Phil Goss, Iva Gueorguieva, Daniel Hernandez, Marie Jacotey, John-Paul Pietrus, James Shaw, Margit Wittig, Ian Vail and Bari Ziperstein.
Fashionistas will be able to check out Clemmie’s curation of vintage clothing throughout the home. She has also customised several pieces for the installation, as well as setting up a boudoir for guests to try on the Bateman wardrobe. Throughout the home will be the striking decoration by Natalie, featuring vignettes that celebrate objects as art. She will demonstrate her signature use of colour, pattern play and an amalgamation of old and new to fit the vibe of the Batemans.
The installation will kick of with an opening party on 25 April 2018 (6.30pm-8.30pm), with a multi-sensory experience from DJ Henri.
- Mrs and Mr Bateman is open from 25 – 28 April 2018. Open to the general public: 10am-6pm. Mrs and Mr Bateman, 15 Bateman Street, Soho, W1D 3AQ. Nearest station: Tottenham Court Road. Check out the Mrs and Mr Bateman website.
For a guide to what else is on in London, click here.
Standing across the road from the Tudor-style Liberty department store is a striking building which couldn’t look more different. Palladium House is a Grade II listed Art Deco office block on the corner of Great Marlborough Street and Argyll Street. With its Egyptian detailing and black granite, the building wouldn’t look out-of-place in Manhattan. So it’s not surprising to discover it was built as a smaller twin to another skyscraper across the pond by an American architect for an American company.
Great Marlborough Street dates back to the early 18th century when the road was named in honour of the Duke of Marlborough’s victory at Blenheim in 1704. The Duke of Argyll then added Argyll Street in 1736. Various buildings came and went over the remaining centuries, with the site becoming empty and ready for Palladium House in the early 20th century.
Today, we tend to think of radiators as a relatively modern invention, with many British homes not embracing the technology until the 1970s and 1980s. One of my childhood homes had no central heating when we moved in and installing some was fortunately my parents’ first priority. However, the central heating we have today stems back to the mid 19th century thanks to inventors like Franz San Galli, Joseph Nason and Robert Briggs. In 1902, the National Radiator Company was formed in Pennsylvania, USA, with the hopes of bringing this technology to homes across America and beyond. By the 1920s, the NRC’s business was going so well they bought a plot of land in Bryant Park area of Manhattan, New York City. American architect Raymond Hood (1881-1934) and French architect Jacques André Fouilhoux (1879–1945) co-designed the American Radiator Building with a combination of Art Deco and Gothic styles in 1924. Today, the building is one of Manhattan’s iconic skyscrapers and is now home to the Bryant Park Hotel.
Despite their success in the US, the ARC had global dreams. They had already had a factory in Hull since 1906, and had subsidiaries in France and Germany. A few years after erecting the American Radiator Building in the Big Apple, they bought a plot of land in London’s West End for their UK headquarters. They brought Hood over from America to design their new building and enlisted British architect Stanley Gordon Jeeves (1888-1964). Their design was in the Art Deco style and a scaled down version of its New York counterpart. Palladium House is the only European building by Hood, who also designed or co-designed Chicago’s Tribune Tower and New York City’s Rockefeller Center and New York Daily News buildings. Meanwhile, Jeeves went on to create the Earls Court Exhibition Centre and Dolphin Square flats in Pimlico. Read the rest of this entry
The address 100 Wardour Street has long been associated with Soho life – be it as a restaurant, bar or nightclub. I had visited various establishments on the site over the years, including Floridita and Meza for meals and cocktails. However, in 2016. the venue was reborn as 100 Wardour Street, a dining, drink and live music destination.
The 100 is split across two floors – a lounge area on the ground for more casual drinks and all-day dining, while the grand basement space features the huge restaurant and club. After dropping off our coats in the cloakroom, we wound our way down the grand staircase to the atmospheric basement, with low-lighting and designer furniture. The main focus of the room is the stage, which hosts live music throughout the week.
We were shown to a cosy booth, with room for five of us and space to look out across the expansive room. We kicked off proceedings with an apéritif, as I chose a ‘Respect Your Elder’ (Tanqueray Gin, Elderflower Tonic, garnished with lemon and edible flowers). Our party had opted for the set menu, with four options in each course. To start, I had the Crispy Baby Squid, Fennel Salad and Yuzu Dressing. What I liked about it, is that it wasn’t as greasy as regular calamari and had a lighter feel.
Confit Duck with Braised Escarole, Piquillo Peppers and Olives
The mains available were mostly traditional British-European offerings, such as Roast Pork Belly, Confit Duck and Rigatoni. However, I settled on the Grilled Scottish Salmon Fillet and Warm Vegetables à la Grec. The salmon was cooked well with a crispy skin (if you like that sort of thing). By salmon standards, it was OK, but could have done with more a bit more flavour. Meanwhile, a few of my table opted for the Confit Duck, served with Braised Escarole, Piquillo Peppers and Olives, which was a universal hit.
To finish, I couldn’t resist the Chocolate and Peanut Butter brownie with Milk Ice Cream. The brownies itself was pretty rich as you can imagine, but the subtle flavour of the ice cream really diffused the sweetness and complemented it well. Meanwhile, I had also been enjoying a saucily named cocktail ‘The Madame’ (Vodka, Lemon Juice, Apple Juice with Mint), which was refreshing with just the right amount of fruitiness.
Overall, we had a great evening. I really liked the venue and atmosphere. The staff was incredibly friendly and attentive. Although my mains was OK, I really enjoyed my starter, dessert and cocktails. I would definitely return.
- 100 Wardour Street, Soho, W1F 0TN. Nearest stations: Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Tottenham Court Road or Leicester Square. For booking, visit the 100 Wardour Street website.
For more of Metro Girl’s restaurant reviews, click here.
While a lot of people enjoy sparkling wines, London’s champagne bars tend to be rather exclusive and expensive destinations. With the rise in popularity in the more affordable Prosecco and Cava in recent years, the capital has been ripe for an alternative. Opening in Soho this summer is the capital’s first dedicated sparkling wine bar. Fiz Bar is having a 10 week residency at the Lights Of Soho, offering a range of bubbles and food.
I popped (excuse the pun!) along with a gal pal last week to check it out in its first few days. The venue has taken over the ground floor of members’ club Lights Of Soho in Brewer Street. Immediately walking in the atmosphere was a world away from champagne bars – bustling, casual and full of energy. We pulled up a stool at one of the side tables so had a good vista of the busy bar and kitchen area. The drinks menu features a range of sparkling wine including Prosecco, Cava, English sparkling, Cremante and more by the bottle or glass, with most of the latter in the £5 range. If you’re with a friend who’s not into wines, there’s also a small selection of other drinks, including cider, lager and spirits to keep them refreshed.
As the day on question was pretty hot and summery, I was in the mood for some sparkling rose so started with the Paternina Cava Rose, a fruity wine which went down very well. Next to shake things up I hoped across the Mediterranean to Italy for a glass of Canal di Rajo Lemoss Frizzante, which had a fuller aroma and richer taste because it was unfiltered. Finally to finish off, I enjoyed a couple of glasses of the 47 AD Prosecco, a lovely soft and refreshing wine.
Of course, with all this quaffing going on, it was only sensible we should be lining our stomachs too. Quite wisely, Fiz Bar serves a mix of buns or sharing dishes ranging from £3.75 to £9.50. We opted to share the Grilled asparagus with salsa verde; Smoked Trout with Fennel, Dill Pickles and Charcoal Sourdough; and Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Comte, Emmental and Ogleshield. All three dishes were delicious. I thought the charcoal sourdough was particularly interesting, with the trout absolutely yummy. The grilled cheese was very naughty, but incredibly moreish.
Overall, Fiz is a great addition to the London bar scene, offering something different from craft beer houses, champagne bars and speakeasies that are becoming so commonplace. The staff were really friendly and the quality of the food and drink is exceptional. Fiz Bar is in residence until August so check it out while you can.
- Fiz @ Lights Of Soho, 35 Brewer Street, Soho, W1F. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus. Open Mon 6pm-11.30pm, Tues-Thur 10am-11.30pm, Fri-Sat 10am-12am; Sun 12pm-4pm. For more information, visit the Fiz Bar Website.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.
Love fashion? Prefer a more boutique-shopping experience to the mega malls? Well, just metres away from the hectic retail thoroughfare of Oxford Circus is a rather more chilled and relaxing shopping experience in the Carnaby London district. Comprising Carnaby Street and the surrounding streets, there’s a host of shops, restaurants, cafes and bars in this Soho enclave.
Returning this May, is the annual Carnaby Style Night. The businesses of the area will be offering an evening of discounts, freebies, competitions, special events… and of course, shopping! On Thursday 4 May between 5 and 9pm, dozens of shops, restaurants, bars and cafes will be offering 20% off.
When you want a break from the retail therapy, there are a host of activities and experiences to keep you entertained. Pose up a storm in the Airstream GIF booth at the Style Studio or capture your style in a live digital illustrations with artist Willa Gebbie. Johnny’s Chop Shop will be giving free on-street haircuts. Meanwhile, fashion fans will want to drop into Carnaby’s style session at 3 Carnaby Street to hear what’s hot.
People who register for their free discount ticket can enjoy a complimentary cocktail at the Beetle Juice VW pop-up bar. During the evening, Carnaby Style Hunters will be rewarding fashionistas with a goodie bag worth £200. For those wanting some entertainment, steps into MOSCOT for live music, or watch the Drag Queen ‘Men In Make Up’ event at Illamasqua. Meanwhile, Fred Perry and Onitsuka Tiger will be serving complimentary food and drink, and Superga will be offering trainer customisation. Early starters can head to triyoga for a free class with Jeff Phenix from 4.30-5.30pm, in collaboration with Ohmme.
Among the bars, restaurants and cafes offering discounts includes Dirty Bones, Le Bab, Whyte & Brown, Pizza Pilgrims, Island Poké, Dehesa, Señor Ceviche, Cahoots and Disrepute. To register for a free ticket to get your 20% off on the evening and the chance to win £500 to spend in Carnaby and digital subscription to GQ for a whole year, visit the Carnaby London website.
- Carnaby Style Night takes place on 4 May 2017 from 5-9pm. Nearest stations: Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus. For more information and to register for your free ticket, visit the Carnaby London website.
For a guide to what’s on in London in May, click here.
As much as we’d like to see consistently warm weather throughout the summer, unfortunately British climes cannot always be relied upon. However, one venue in Soho will be keeping up the summer spirit come rain or shine.
The capital’s first beach club bar Myki Sand Bar is a new pop-up in the heart W1. Located on the lower ground floor of Archer Street, guests will be transported to a tropical world, featuring palm trees, golden sand, glamorous beach backdrops and ceiling sails.
Among the drinks on offer will be a special menu of bespoke cocktails curated by Cîroc vodka, featuring its Cîroc Blue Stone, Cîroc Pineapple and the exclusive new Cîroc Pink Grapefruit in the mix. Inspired by international beach clubs, the signature Heatwave (Cîroc Blue Stone, peach liqueur, lime, chilli bitters and orgeat) and Yes I Like Piña Coladas (Cîroc Coconut blended with cream, pineapple, Coco Lopez and a pinch of salt) will be getting revellers feeling fruity!
The Myki Sand Bar will be open from Thursday to Saturday, with VIP booths available so you can party with your pals while sinking your feet into the sand. The Archer Street team will also be keeping drinkers entertained with live music, while DJs will be taking to their decks as they bring a taste of Ibiza to London.
- Myki Sand Bar @ Archer Street, 3-4 Archer Street, Soho, W1D 7AP. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus. Myki Sand Bar is open Thursdays to Sunday from late May until the end of 2016. For more information, visit the Archer Street website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in August, click here.
Love fashion? Prefer a more boutique-shopping experience to the mega malls? Well, just metres away from the hectic retail thoroughfare of Oxford Circus is a rather more chilled and relaxing shopping experience to be had in the Carnaby London district. Comprising Carnaby Street and the surrounding streets, there’s a host of shops, restaurants, cafes and bars in this Soho enclave.
Returning this May, is the annual Carnaby Style Night. The businesses of the area have teamed up with GQ magazine for an evening of discounts, freebies, competitions, special events… and of course, shopping! On Thursday 5 May between 5 and 9pm, over 100 shops, restaurants, bars and cafes will be offering 20% off.
When you fancy a break from retail therapy, there will be plenty of special events on the night, including live music on the main stage, from artists including Sinead Harnett and Croox. The Carnaby Style Panel is back so budding fashionistas can get insider knowledge from Carnaby’s Creative Brand Directors and experts. Many of the stores, such as Levi’s and Cubitts will be offering drinks while you shop, while some boutiques will be hosting in-store DJs to get you in the party mood. Dirty Bones will be hosting a pop-up bar on Ganton Street, offering an exclusive complimentary cocktail.
To register for a free ticket to get your 20% off, visit the Carnaby London website. You’ll automatically be entered into a prize draw to win £500 worth of shopping vouchers plus a year’s subscription to GQ magazine.
- The Carnaby Style Night takes place on Thursday 5 May from 5-9pm at the Carnaby London district. Nearest stations: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information and to register for your 20% off discount, visit the Carnaby London website.
For a guide to what else is on in London right now, click here.