Posts Tagged ‘cocktail’
I always go to The Botanist in the evening, after a day shopping on King’s Road, a stroll at the Saatchi Gallery. Great place for cocktail, busy and buzzing, fantastic London fashion, jumping from one conversation to another. I recently stopped by for breakfast and what a different atmosphere, so soothing, so peaceful, the perfect room to wake up slowly. It has a French bistrot feeling - ask for a coffee, a home baked croissant, grab the moning papers. Take your time, enjoy the cream and caramel surrounding, the curves, really look at the amazing wall of botanical engravings. It was a lovely sunny day - those are to be cherished in England - and I fancied a splash of colour. In a very optimistic thought (yes, sun WILL stay, let’s prepare the skin for it), I opted for a almost silky carrot juice, full vitamin dose. I love that fruit juice is pressed on demand and is always super fresh here. look at the Mint Lift: isn’t this the most beautiful palette of green? Pineapple, apple and mint of course, extra tasty. Remember - we are on Sloane Square. Did you know Hans Sloane brought cacao back to the Uk and even invented its preparation with milk? In his honour, The Botanist serve a superb hot chocolate, slightly sweet, with a cloud like foam, sprinkled with cacao flakes. And a pure luxury touch: a Rococo chocolate stick to crunch on or to be used as a stirrer for a slow-melting effect.
Hungry? Grab a fork. There is a whole page of treats on the menu, from salmon and scrambled eggs, porridge, granola, soft boiled hen eggs with Marmite soldiers, dill cured gravad lax/rye toast/ricotta, coriander/caper and red onion salad… We went for the classic poached eggs with a slight twist. No need to choose anymore, you can have one Florentine and one Benedict on the same plate. Creamy spinach, beautiful ham, hot muffins, rich egg yolk, lemony sauce sprinkled with chives. I don’t know why - it simply makes me happy in a second. Simple comfort food with great ingredients.
But if you want a real change from the usual English Breakfast choices, there is a lovely healthy option to go for. Delicious sweetcorn fritters, roast vine tomato, smoked streaky bacon, baby spinach and a tangy, to-die-for avocado salsa. The bacon is so crunchy, I felt like a kid facing French fries, I just had to eat it with my fingers. Oh, I so need to have this next time with a boiled egg and dip it in the yolk! Discussing the fantastic fruit juice with our waitress, we followed her advice and tasted the Popeye. Yes, as you can guess, this involves spinach. And apple. Drink your greens! It proves… suprisingly addictive, very refreshing, like crunching in a green apple straight form the tree but with a more tender note as a finish.
Another look at the menu and we lost all sense of reason. We were full - it had been delicious so far, with generous plates. But we saw the words buttermilk pancakes. It smells gorgeous, attracted the other tables’ attention on its way to us. moist, thick pancakes, filled with juicy blueberries, soaked in maple syrup and topped with bacon. Sweet and salt well balanced. Gorgeous. Could someone Star-Trek-beam me there every morning, please?
No.7 Sloane Square
London, SW1W 8EE
Ah, the roaring 20ies, the endless cheerfulness, the charleston, the prohibition, gin made in bath tups, cocktails drunk in teacups, whisky on prescription (yes! A pint every 10 days), speakeasies… Inspired by the newly launched The Great Gatsby movie, Harrods recreates this wonderful, luxurious atmosphere with a superb pop-up hidden in its wine shop. Dimmed lighting, leather books, leather armchair. You can imagine gentlemen in suit and hats, women with long necklaces of pearls.
What can you expect? Classic cocktails of that era with a twist (and you can find the recipes and more about the history here!). A tangy, sparkling Floradora reinvented by Hendrick’s, an Elit martini with the creamy vodka Stolichnaya and a dash of elderflower liqueur, a Brandy Crusta fragrant with Courvoisier exclusive and orange curacao, a Spicy Honey Sour highlighting the smokiness of Johnnie Walker Double Black, a Blood and Sand playing on the citrus touch of Macallan whisky and cherry brandy. Close your eyes and feel the exterior world retreating softly…
Cocktails and all that jazz opulent pop-up Until May 20, 2013
Wine shop, lower ground floor
87-135 Brompton Rd
London SW1X 7XL
Remember this word - Roispresso. You will see it everywhere in the coming year – hotel bars, restaurants, the best cafés in town.
So what is it? The new generation of Rooibos, also known as red tea although it does not belong to the same family of plant at all but comes from an African bush. The tastes is sedducing from the very first sip – velvety, a unique smoothness. Never any bitterness, no matter how long you have left it to infuse. It can be enjoyed at any time of the day as it does not contain any caffeine. Even better, this drink is extra-rich in anti-oxydants, 4 times more than your usual green tea. Healthy, my friends.
Have you ever considered it with milk? Me neither. It’s divine - the creaminess matches the natural sweetness of the Rooibos. Prepared with an espresso machine, it can be declined like a coffee can: Rosso (simple, intense like an espresso, served in a small cup), Macchiato , Cappuccino, Latte, Americano…
But the creativity goes even a step further. Mint? Goji? Guarana and acai? We were totally conquished by the pollen and chamomile, almost honeyish, very soothing. If you prefer a more tonic note, try the ginseng and orange that really give a lovely kick. All creations are served with coconut sugar, more caramelised, sharpening the flavours. The idea is to associate it with superfoods only, keeping the good-for-you side of it.
Another possibility as spring is around the corner, the ice tea version. Combined with fresh fruit or maybe your favourite spirit, the combinations are endless. Oh, a raspberry granita on a rooftop, isn’t that tempting?
You can already try the Roispresso collection at the Trafalgar Hotel, more addresses will follow soon.
I remember, when I was a child, looking forward to Saturday lunches at my grandmother’s. Running down the stairs. Always the same - the chimney fire, the meat grilled above the embers, thinly cut shallots, served with a slice of baguette to absorb the juice. Each bite was simply perfect - I can taste it to this day. There was no need for salt, nor sauce. It has been a while but I have found the exact same pleasure at The Grill on the market… Oh, this took me years back. But come on and have a look!The location is ideal - just on the side of the Smithfield market where the best London butchers are found. A 10mn walk to the Barbican - just in case you are looking for a lovely place to finish a cultural afternoon… On the decoration side, expect natural touches (brick, wood, golden atmosphere, leather chairs and sofas) mixed with design, slightly art deco lamps. We loved the theatrical light effect on the tables, putting all the focus on the dishes. Projector, please!To celebrate the week-end, we started with a cocktail. The list is simply fascinating, with quite a few innovative options that will convince you to come back for the Happy Hour. We were treated to a fruity rum punch (Appleton VX, Gosling’s black seal, Cointreau, grenadine, passionfruit syrup, vanilla syrup, lemon juice and pineapple), a real holiday feeling in a glass, taking you straight to a tropical beach. The Sloe gin crush (Plymouth sloe gin, Chase Elderflower, lemon juice, Monin passionfruit eand fresh passionfruit) was a lovely discovery too - sharp edges, alternating between sweetness and tanginess, putting a smile on your face straight away. Duly noted for next time: orange and cinnamon Manhattan, black forest martini, violet and mint crush…Just treat yourself to some rustic artisan bread, still steaming at heart, to be dipped in tasty olive oil and fruity marinated olives. Go on, you know you want to…
For the starters, I do have to put special stars for the Thai fishcakes. Such a sweet, flavoured salmon, fresh herbs, gorgeous mashed potatoes and a sweet chilli sauce to wrap it all. Perfectly cooked, not oily at all, a different association at each forkful. If you are more of a carnivorous, try the carpaccio. Thin almost floral slices, top quality. Won’t last more than a few minutes, you will have to remember to chew! Just a slight drizzle of olive oil, some watercress salad with Stilton crumbs to balance it.
On the meat side, this is serious business. ever the steak frites is amazing - pink, juicy, sizzled on a pan, cooked with a little fat to add to the taste and tenderness. The chips are home made, hand cut, fluffy inside, totally addictive. And with the juice, ah, no one would even think of ketchup. We matched it to a glass of Operetto Garganega, a crisp pinot grigio (yes, you can have white wine with red meat and yes, it goes very nicely too if you choose carefully) with hints of green apple, honeysuckle, jasmine, citrus…My personal best? The posh surf and turf. Now, to a French person, the idea of meat and seafood in the same plate is very strange. But ah, this is di-vi-ne. The delicacy of the sirloin, the refinement of the scallops, this salted parsley butter to link it all, the classy note of the crayfish, the melt-in-the-mouth shrimps… Simply a must. Try this with a glass of Kent rosé. The Chapel Down English Rose is very surprising, very romantic, like a blooming orchard: cherry, juicy berries. Very poetic indeed.For dessert - stay British. I usually am not so much a fan of the sticky toffee pudding, but this one is very wow. The cake is soaked with the caramel, not too intense, almost creamy, definitely a touch of butter. A rich, to die for conclusion. Do not share. It would only be a race for the last spoonful.
The cocktails menu includes a “And so to bed”, an irresistible invitation! The Jaffa Cake really is a liquid version of the biscuit – orange liqueur, dark chocolate Mozart liqueur, whipped cream for a velvety finish. Luxurious with long lasting notes. The Parma Violet is similarly confusing, have they dissolved the candy in it? But not, it is a skill indeed - vodka, violet liqueur, lemon juice, cranberry juice. A lovely sharp angle, a beautiful floral note dancing on the palate.
Verdict? One of these addresses that fits everyone. Romantic couples. Celebrations. Parties. Friends gathering. Business meeting. Even families, there is a kids menu. The quality is simply fantastic. I love that the simpleness of it - honest tastes, no covering with sauces and too many sides on the plate. Just focusing on 2-3 tastes, getting them to perfection. The only problem? You want to taste it all and keep looking at the plates going by. You know, for next time. how about we go back tomorrow, mmmh?
The Grill on the market
2-3 West Smithfield
City of London
I miss from Paris the incredible offers for brunch – the best thing to do with friends at the week-end. The luxury of having the time to enjoy an informal lunch, the sipping forever of fantastic coffee or tea, still a bit sleepy, waking up slowly and chatting. So much more comfortable than the seriousness of lunch, too structured. This is week-end time. The trend is arriving in London and the South Place Hotel has a very tempting one that includes complimentary Prosecco, Bellinis and Mimosas. What better way to celebrate?
You will love the easy transition to a cocoon space – leather sofas, lounge atmosphere with a skill for design touches, dandelion effect on the walls, glass window overlooking the street for people watching, choice of individual tables or a long communal ones, morning papers…
It will take you 15mn to choose from the menu – no less than 6 starters, 8 main dishes and 4 dessert. I changed my mind 5 times, deciding on a new perfect combinations constantly, ah, stomach rumbling more and more, mouth watering… For the love of colours in a plate, I fell for the creamy goat’s curd and beautiful Cheltenham beet with their white and red spirals, almost floral in taste and Chiogga ones, an apricot hue, sweet and fruitier. So refreshing. More classical but irresistible, the eggs Hollandaise were served on a warm, toasted muffin, velvety sauce, tender York ham and perfect egg yolk.Time to cheer, don’t you think? Three sparkling option are complimentary with the brunch. But if you fancy a festive touch, upgrade to the bar selection. Yes, you will have to pay for those but oh, they are quite out of the ordinary: Marmite, Scotch biscuit… We fell for the Winston Tipple, dedicated to Churchill such a very refined swirl (Bulleit, Dubonnet, Cherry Marnier and Chocolate Bitters) and the mysterious, poetic Lyle’s Julep (ginger wine, spiced Pampero Anejo rum, Lyle’s treacle and a touch of blackberry). Worth knowing – the hotel also has a restaurant on the top floor with an amazing view… and a terrace with a different drinks menu…
Meat lovers, try the cheeseburger, my, how juicy, lots of cheese, gerkins on the side, brioche bun, it will disappear in no time from your plate. The fries are triple cooked, crunchy on the outside, fluffy heart. But the signature dis, the one you absolutely have to order is the luxurious lobster omelette. Oh my! The seafood sauce, so infused, how sublime, how unique! Imagine the most fragrant fish soup you have ever savored, multiply the effect by 10… Conversation will be reduced to “mmmh, mmmhh, mmmh!” and lots of pointing enthusiastically towards your plate.Sweet touch to finish – the chocolate and orange mousse offers a dense, splendid texture, melting on the tongue, a high quality cacao and superb citrus note. The Bakewell Tart won me over, such a comforting plum sauce, nice toasted almonds on top, clotted cream gelato that will make you feel like eloping to the Costwolds and find a cottage with a roaring chimney fire.
Ah, quick, find more friends to come back with next week-end!
Once again, the Fashion crowd is rushing to the Somerset House. No catwalk this time but the most stylish exhibition: Valentino : Master of couture presenting no less than 130 iconic dresses by this mythic designer. As part of their Martini Movies, One Aldwych presented in parallel a gorgeous documentary, Valentino: the last Emperor, in their private projection room. They even had created a sparkling cocktail dedicated to haute-couture, the Valentino Red : the crispier champagne you can imagine with a spoonful of molecular caviar. Each of the tiny balls was made one by one with Campari, Aperol and strawberry juice. They danced cheerfully up and down, following the bubbles, like tiny jewels. Irresistible - you just have to eat them slowly, very playful indeed.
Time to settle in the ever-so comfortable, large leather seats of the cinema – there even is a sliding table to each. Ah, the pure luxury of alternating savory or sweet popcorn with a sip of champagne!
As for Valentino: the last Emperor : sumptuous, intimate, touching, funny. A rare glimpse into an amazing life, an extraordinary talent but also a heart-warming complicity, conversations juggling effortless between English, French, Italian. You will laugh with all your heart and sometimes be close to crying too. It just has to be seen, even if you are clueless about fashion. A legend. Rent it, buy it, give it as a Christmas gift to everyone you know.
To perfect the experience, One Aldwych proposes a Very Valentino afternoon tea, which includes a ticket to the exhibition. And mouthwatering treats such as mandarin trifle, almond truffles with winter spices, cranberry scones with home-made plum jam and Devonshire clotted cream, warm crumpets with lemon curd, seasonal sandwiches, tea from the Tea Palace and of course the Valentino Red cocktail. If you have a chance to spend the week-end in London, do upgrade to the Very Valentino experience: a night in their magical rooms, breakfast and two tickets to the exhibition. Elegantissima!
The Grosvenor Hotel entrance is simply sumptuous. Glossy, surreal white marble, shiny chandeliers – reminds me of Italian palaces. It is so easy to pictures summer balls here, beautiful waltzing couple, weddings, romances, haute couture dresses coming down the amazing stairs. Their Victorian lounge has just been renovated too - imagine cristal lights, palmtrees, Victorian portraits of famous women of the time such Nancy Astor, the first prime minister or the actress Lillie Langtree.
In this wonderful atmosphere is now served, once a month, a decadent High Tease. You had already succumbed to the sweetness of afternoon teas, of the sparkling pleasures of High Teas. To refined savoury and sugary treats, cocktails served in tea cups or champagne glasses blooming with an hibiscus flower… is added a glamorous touch: the delicious award-winning burlesque dancer Bettsie Bon Bon brings her glittering moves, her feline walk, her irresistible gaze. Why not turn this in a romantic week-end? An extravagant suite is dedicated to the Parisian Courtesan Cora Pearl…
More than a simple pause, this is an experience, a memorable evening, adding sparkles every step of the way…
High Tease - £65/person. Dates confirmed: December 20, January 31, February 28
The Grosvesnor Hotel
101 Buckingham Palace Road
London SW1W 0SJ
If you have already fallen in love with the magical universe of the Kensington Hotel, you simply need a cocoon evening in their bar, The Aubrey. Murano lights for the most honeyish atmosphere, curved leather sofas - conversations are so much softer, soothed by the clicking of ice in glasses. But the secret is not to rely on the beautiful selection on the menu. Go straight to the counter and talk to Alessandro Pizzoli: this mixologist simply has the golden touch.
We wanted to feel the sparkle of summer again – he swirled Ruinard champagne, vodka, a dash of lime, fresh mint and fragrant raspberry nuggets. Intrigued, I decide to give challenging key words: what could he do around smokiness, ginger and lavender? Not a second of hesitation - you could see hundreds of ideas going through his mind. A few seconds later, he had poured vodka, lemon juice and ginger in a bottle and was infusing it with a smoke gun, a technique that always fascinates me. Very complex on the tongue, both floral and exotic, the drink was exceptionally light and dancing, so very difficult to describe. More a feeling than just flavours…
Now, I am a Vesper girl. If you have read/seen Casino Royale, you probably know that James Bond invented this before dedicating himself to martinis, shaken not stirred, please. It calls for a balance between vermouth, gin and Lillet with just a zest of lemon. Not so easy - you need a purity, a silkiness. You need, well, perfection, really. Any good barman will know the story but Alessandro had so many more anecdotes around it let alone improved it - and you are talking to a purist here - by using Noilly Pratt and Boston Bitters. Modern, energetic: this is a wow Vesper indeed.
The ultimate test? Make me change my mind about Aperol. Beautiful neon colour but its bitterness never convinced me much. And so he smiled a delighted, Cheshire cat smile. And brought me a negroni mixed with the spirit and the most wonderful orange juice ever. Tangy, vibrant, like a fabulous Americano, just enough to get you addicted to it.
Finally a reason to love a Monday – today starts the London Cocktail Week. Because life is so much more interesting shaken, not stirred. This is the perfect occasion, with the bracelet booked via the website, to rediscover the best bars of the city and taste their dedicated creation at a small price.
The Reform Social, inspired by gentlemen’s clubs and nestled in the gorgeous Mandeville Hotel, has designed an exquisite version of the gin sour. Around Berkeley Square Gin swirl lavender, lemon and sweet grenadine. Light in texture but ever so intriguing on the palate, tangy flavors alternate with an enchanting floral touch, ending on the silkiness of the foam. A splendid transition between summer and autumn and hopefully one of many such variations by their skilled mixologists.
£4 the cocktail for the London Cocktail Week, October 08-14, 2012
London W1U 2BE
One Aldwych, a few steps away from the Somerset House, has always been the best meeting point between catwalks – whether you actually stay a few nights there or just celebrate with a glass of champagne. For the occasion, the leading London milliner Noel Stewart and the hotel floral designer Mark Siredzuk have put together this amazing staging to present the spring/summer 2013 hat collection. Sublimed by tropical foliage opening up as a delicate fan, each creation looks like an exotic bloom or bird. Wow at the refined weaving, the use of golden foiled straw, PVC tortoiseshell, leopoard printed crinoline… Make sure you stop by - it will sadly disappear Thursday morning…
The two designers also have added a chic touch to The Boatman sculpture by André Wallace. He now sails amongst the guests with the most fascinating boater hat spanning, made of sumptuous green moss and highlighted with an eye-catching holographic band and deep purple orchids. And this is one metre in diametre…
The best way to enjoy the scene definitely is with a cocktail. The famous mixologist Pedro Paulo has dedicated a beautiful twist of the French 75 to LFW. Renamed for the occasion Fashion 75, it keeps its sparkling French touch, its London dry gin note but adds a citrus flavour on the lips, ending on the sweetness of hibiscus cordial. Crisp, vibrant, cheerful - a new classic!
And if you feel nostalgic of our summer games, indulge in the Olympic Torch, inspired by the elegant flame. As festive visually with its ribbons of dry ice and firework of colours than on the palate: complex fragrances of Merlet cognac and Maraschino, tanginess of lime and passionfruit. This, my friends is a gold winner…