Autumn is officially arrived so the nights are longer and the temperatures are dropping. With winter fast approaching, wouldn’t it be lovely to jet off to warmer climes… in somewhere like Cuba for example? Well, if you can’t afford the time or airfare, this autumn and winter, a slice of Cuba is coming to London.
The distinctive tastes, sound and spirit of pre-revolution Cuba will be popping up at Tobacco Dock for a limited period. Launching at the re-imaginated Quayside Bar, Last Nights Of Havana will be an evening of tropical rum, food, jazz and dance. Running from 19 October 2018 until May 2019, this new experience will evoke memories of Cuba’s opulent heyday in the 1940s and 1950s. Imagine the glamour, Cadillacs, cigars and rum cocktails.
Upon arrival, guests will be toasted with a complimentary rum cocktail before entering the warm palm-filled tropical bar. Inside, the mixologists will create Cuba’s iconic drinks, such as Mojitos, Daiquiris and Cuba Libre at the large island bar. Andy Mil and Elliot Ball from the Cocktail Trading Company have devised the cocktail menu featuring contemporary twists on the Cuban classics featuring the full Bacardi portfolio. There will also be a full bar for those who fancy a drink other than rum. Meanwhile, when you’re feeling peckish, you can feast on Cuban street food and snacks.
Throughout the evening, you’ll be entertained with Cuban music and dancing with Cuban-born Musical Director Oreste ‘Sambroso’ Noda leading the nightly band. Expect sounds inspired by Cuban music combined with a contemporary London soundtrack. The band will play homage to the iconic melody of the Buena Vista Social Club. At the night progresses, the DJs take over with Latin-influenced beats and dancefloor classics.
Last Nights Of Havana aims to offer an alternative night out for Londoners, combining food, drink, music and dance. It’s suitable for couples’ date nights to birthday celebrations to work socials. There will also be rum-tasting masterclasses available every Saturday for those who want to expand their knowledge into the sugar cane spirit. Last Nights Of Havana will also be hosting a New Year’s Party for those who want to kick off 2019 with some Latin flavour.
- Last Nights Of Havana, Quayside Bar, Tobacco Dock, Wapping Lane (Gate Entrance), Wapping, E1W 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. Runs from 8 October 2018 – May 2019. Open 5pm-12am. Tickets: £20 in 2018, £25 in 2019 (inc complimentary arrival cocktail). Masterclass: £60pp (include rum flight, special cocktail and discount towards evening event). For more information and tickets, visit lastnightsofhavana.com.
For a guide to what’s on in London in October, click here.
Long days and warmer temperatures mean summer is fast approaching. When the sun comes out, then I believe there’s nowhere better to be than a rooftop bar. Boasting one of the best views in the capital is Skylight, which is returning to East London for the summer season. Situated near the borders of the City of London and the East End, Skylight boasts a stunning skyline vista, plenty of food and drink options and the opportunity for lawn games. Having visited the original launch last summer and its winter makeover last November, I returned this week to check out its new summer 2018 look.
Skylight spans three floors of bars at the top of Tobacco Dock’s car park. There’s plenty of space both alfresco and undercover so there’s somewhere to take cover if the weather changes. We particularly liked the top-level, platform bar with its comfortable lounge-style seating and the best views in the place for sunset. The vista includes The Shard, Gherkin and the Walkie Talkie, as well as the nearby Hawksmoor pepper pot towers of the St George in the East church.
The bars were well equipped with a range of drinks to suit all tastes, including seasonal cocktails, spritzes, pitchers, bubbly, wine and craft beer on tap. We tried the refreshing Watermelon Mojito and a traditional G’n’T as perfect sunset downers. There’s also culinary options downstairs in the covered lower floor, with Yiro serving Greek food, while Flip Side is offering burger and chips options. We had some halloumi and salad wraps from Yiro which were nicely chargrilled and tasted lovely.
As well as the typical rooftop options of drinking and eating, Skylight offers a range of lawn games and other activities. There are four croquet lawns and two pétanque courts, as well as a penalty shoot-out football game, with tournaments and prizes giveaways. We tried the croquet and I was just as spectacularly bad as my previous attempt last year – it’s a lot harder than it looks! If you prefer to spectate rather than play, Skylight will be showing World Cup and Wimbledon matches on the big screen. Throughout the summer, there will be regular DJ nights from residents Gold Teeth and Coastal Haze, as well as daytime events such as rooftop yoga.
- Skylight, Tobacco Quay (Pennington Street entrance), Wapping, E1CW 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. Open from 3 May until 23 September 2018. Open Thu-Fri 5pm-11pm, Sat-Sun 12pm-11pm. Free entry, but large groups over 10 are recommended to pre-book. Croquet: Indoor £25, Outdoor £35 (45 min game), Petanque: £15 (2-4 players). For more information, visit the Skylight London website.
For a guide to what’s on in London in August, click here.
Following its launch earlier this year, Skylight became a popular summer destination for rooftop drinking, food and games. Although many rooftop venues have closed for the winter, the Tobacco Quay destination has had a festive makeover. Launching last week, Skylight has been transformed for the winter season with the installation of an ice rink. Although smaller than other alfresco rinks, the Skylight one’s unique selling point is it offers fabulous views of the London skyline while you skate.
I went along to the launch last week having previously visited the venue in the summer and was impressed by how much it had changed. Despite anticipating it would be chilly and windy, I was pleasantly surprised. The top level features two bars – one enclosed in a heated tent and a pergola – heated too – with plenty of seating and blankets if you’re feeling cold. The lower-level is enclosed and include a fondue station, bar, lots of neon and alpine-esque furry seating and day beds. It’s a warm and cosy place which makes a great retreat after a whirl on the ice. There’s also an ice hockey slap shot outside if you’re looking to let off some steam.
The bars serve a wide range of beers, cider, spirits, winter cocktails and mulled wine. We tried the Apple Crumble, a rum and apple concoction that certainly gave us a warm and fuzzy feeling. Meanwhile, cheese fans will be in their element with the fondue station.
Overall, it’s a great, versatile destination for a wintry night out. The abundance of heating means you’re unlikely to be cold for long, which would usually be my main aversion to outdoor winter venues. There was plenty to keep us occupied and it was a nice change to have a great view while ice-skating. Instagrammers will find there’s plenty of material to pose against with Skylight’s neon and stunning vistas.
- Skylight, Tobacco Quay (Pennington Street entrance), Wapping, E1CW 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. Free entry to Skylight. Under 18s allowed until 6pm. Open 2 November 2017 – 14 January 2018. Skating tickets: £10 (45 minutes). For booking, visit the Skylight London website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in December, click here.
For a guide to London’s open-air ice rinks this winter, click here.