The Macallan Residence, Temple

Macallan scotch whisky cocktails

Macallan whisky took over the gorgeous Two Temple Place 2nd and 3rd June – dubbed The Macallan Residence, visitors received a walk through the Macallan 1824 line, along with cocktails and a whisky/chocolate pairing hosted by Artisan du Chocolat.

Between sessions on being taught to make Macallan twists on Old Fashioned, and chats over carefully selected chocolates, Esquire provided tailoring, monogramming, shoeshining – that is, when you’re not busy at the photobooth.

And why wouldn’t you be? Two Temple Place is a spectacular venue, between the library, lounge, study and VIP room, it’s difficult to choose where to spend most of your time.

Macallan scotch whisky cocktails

The Gold Rush and keys to the Residence

The evening begins with a Gold Rush cocktail – Macallan Gold, Galliano and ginger beer – a simple, but very effective, refresher for the summer, paired with a Scotch Egg, as one walks down an exhibition on the preparation of Macallan whisky.

Macallan scotch whisky cocktails

Wayne Collins’ Old Gold masterclass

While sipping a Macallan Rare, with its richer and thicker palate of raisins, orange and ginger, Wayne Collins runs us through preparing the Old Gold.

The Old Gold twists an Old Fashioned into using Macallan Gold, ginger syrup, and chocolate bitters. The palest of the 1824 range, the Macallan Gold’s toffee and cinnamon follows the initial ginger kick, with the chocolate bitters bringing out the whisky’s natural cocoa notes.

Macallan scotch whisky cocktails

More of the Old Golds

We taste more of the Macallan Gold when it is paired with Artisan du Chocolat’s Basil and Lime Dark Chocolate. The beautifully herbaceous chocolate first brings out the Gold’s savoury flavours, and the lime lifts it up after, for a wonderfully summery pairing.

Next, the Macallan Amber, the oilier whisky, buttery with notes of winter fruits and lemon, rich, with a somewhat earthy and cinnamon finish – is paired with Dark Chocolate Sea-Salted Caramel. The Amber’s more forceful notes are heightened, and the heat in the whisky is brought out strongly by the salty-sweet caramel.

Macallan scotch whisky cocktails

The next of the 1824 range, the Sienna instantly hits the nose with Demerara sugar, orange and something floral. The palate is similarly warming and sweet, very autumnal. Paired with Dark Chocolate Ganache infused with Tazmanian Honey, the floral sweetness of the honey immediately brings out all those floral notes in the Sienna, a very uplifting combination.

Finally, the spectacularly coloured Macallan Ruby struts onto the stage with major spice and glacé cherry nose, a palate that is deep and warm like an evening at the fireplace – oaky, raisin, leather, char, dates and winter sweetness, a candied orange peel finish. Paired with Tobacco infused Dark Chocolate Ganache, caramel, coffee and vanilla hit you and take you to that leather Chesterfield armchair at the fireplace.

Macallan scotch whisky cocktails

This Speyside whisky knows how to throw a party. And will be back on the 8th and 9th of June, participating in The Telegraph Whisky Experience, alongside many popular whiskies. Information on the Telegraph Whisky Experience can be found here: CLICK!

http://www.themacallan.com/

#EspressoMartiniMonth @ the Grind

Locations: Soho, Shoreditch, Holborn, London Bridge
Damage£

 

Weekend’s here!

Perking up and letting your hair down at the same time might look like a dilemma, but not this June 2015! Espresso Martini Month descending upon the various Grind café bars around London, in partnership with Merlet Cognac.

For all of June, the Grinds release four limited edition cognac cocktails that run at 5 pounds, and quite honestly, knocking its vodka-based brothers out of the shop.

Espresso Martini cocktail

The Merlet Brother’s Blend VSOP has a rich, light nose: apricots, vanilla, winter spice. The palate brings out those stone fruits, and goes fantastically with the newly launched Merlet C2 coffee liqueur.

The nose of the C2 is gorgeous, roasting beans and coffee, vanilla and cocoa, followed by the lighter scents from its cognac base. The palate brings out the very same flavours with bit of a spice kick, and something much like liquorice.

 

Together with sugar syrup and the Grind’s signature espresso, the limited edition Espresso Martini is a fresh change from the traditional vodka based drink, and brings out the fruit flavours of the spirits involved, and spreads out the notes in the coffee.

In short? That’s a pretty damn good Espresso Martini. And that’s coming from someone who isn’t a fan of Espresso Martinis in the first place. Smooth, rich, sweet, with a bite.

Espresso Martini cocktail

But that’s not all, the Grinds present two alternatives: a Vanilla, and an Orange Espresso Martini!

Using homemade (literally, right there in a saucepan on the stove), syrups, the Vanilla Espresso Martini is certainly the sweeter of the two, and with a powerful vanilla flavour, is built to be a dessert drink.

The Orange Espresso Martini, however, is much more subtle, and though does not scream ‘orange’, brings out the citrus flavours of the cognac with itself, providing a much lighter experience than the Vanilla.

 

As a Merlet bonus, the Grinds will also be serving up Sidecars (Merlet Brothers Blend Cognac, triple sec, lemon juice) with this month’s menu!

5 quid to make morning drinking and night coffees acceptable – it’s a small price to pay.

Check out the Grind locations below!

Le Chalet Pop up @ Selfridges, Bond Street

Type of Bar: Pop up, Winter, Bar/Restaurant
Damage££
Ideal for: Hot Chocolate, Date, Small Groups, Food

 

One more month of winter!

With the weather getting harsher and seeming to go on forever, the Hoodooist thought we better cover another warm-up cocktail spot for the rest of the season.

The Le Chalet bar/restaurant pop up at Selfridges has been set up by the excellent Q Grill London on the roof of the department store with its own express lift to hot choctails and winter comfort food. A becouched and bequilted indoors and heated outdoors make for a versatile experience regardless of the weather outside.

Foreground: 'The Dominican'; Background: 'The Hazelnut'

Foreground: ‘The Dominican’; Background: ‘The Hazelnut’

Let’s get down to business though, in drinks, Le Chalet offers either winter-themed cocktails, or boozy hot chocolate – not as thick and indulgent as the hot chocolate at Floridita’s Ski Chalet Pop up (Click HERE for Review!), but making them easier to drink here. The most successful of the hot choctails tasted was easily the Hazelnut, hazelnut liqueur, almond liqueur, dark chocolate liqueur – tasting pretty much like a liquid Ferrero Rocher. A perfect dessert drink.

The Dominican adds Brugal spiced rum and cinnamon liqueur to the hot chocolate, to warm you up nicely – however, there seems to be some conflict in flavour, although this could be up to personal taste. The rum brings the toffee and caramel, as well as some pepper, maybe Demerara? Worth trying out to make one’s mind up. An enjoyable topping of whipped cream and cinnamon.

The Choc-work Orange (brilliant): Orange liqueur and dark chocolate liqueur in a hot chocolate: somehow, the weakest of the three – too intense on the orange, doesn’t quite work.

 

'The Honeycomb Old Fashioned', the 'Gingerbread Slipper', 'The Choc-Work Orange'

‘The Honeycomb Old Fashioned’, the ‘Gingerbread Slipper’, ‘The Choc-Work Orange’

Let’s check out the cocktails:

The Honeycomb Old Fashioned is actually a great idea: Maker’s Mark whiskey, whisky barrel aged bitters, and instead of sugar, a slowly melting slab of honeycomb. Initially the Maker’s Mark is intense, but increases in honey sweetness as the honeycomb melts away. Halfway through, the honeycomb becomes intense with a buttery sweetness, and takes longer to finish. Give yourself a good while to drink this, and though great when bitterly cold, I can’t imagine having something so dense and sweet on a warmer day.

Brugal spiced rum, gingerbread, lemon and egg white make up the Gingerbread Slipper, not too a fairly citrus drink that takes the edge off the lemon with the gingerbread, that mainly mellows it out. Nothing complex, and lacking a bit of character.

 

Service-wise, no complaints. In summary, Le Chalet is a great place to pop by when in the area before the end of February, hot choctails to enjoy after a wee bit of shopping.

Drinks: ***
Atmosphere: ***
Service: ***

 

Selfridges London

400 Oxford Street,
London, W1A 1AB

http://www.selfridges.com/content/le-chalet

SCOTCH Pop up 2015 @ Brown’s Hotel, Mayfair

Happy Burns Night all! To celebrate, we thought of the perfect place to celebrate this Sunday, and hey, if you’d rather have a cosy night in, we’ve thrown in a couple of whiskey cocktails to make at home at the end of the article!

Type of Bar: Whisky, Hotel, Pop up
Damage££££
Ideal for: Scotch, Date, Small Groups, Education

Scotch dram

Running till the 8th of February 2015, the Brown’s Hotel is hosting the SCOTCH pop up in their Library room, exhibiting 40 different Scottish whiskies and couple of scotch cocktails – A tribute to their sister hotel, the Balmoral’s, SCOTCH Bar.

Whisky Ambassador, Fraser Robson, has whiskies from all over the traditional regions at his disposal: Speyside, Islay, Campbeltown, the Islands, the Highlands and Lowlands in a variety of blends, malts and vintages dating back to 1940, and what a brilliant collection it is. Running from 15 pounds a dram, up to 400 (the Glenmorangie Pride 1978), the choice of whiskies is intimidating at first, but easier to traverse through with the brilliant Mr. Robson guiding you.

For reference: Glenmorangie stills are as tall as giraffes.

For reference: Glenmorangie stills are as tall as giraffes.

Sponsored by Glenmorangie, best to start their event with the Glenmorangie Original: a demanding golden yellow, a classic whisky. Intensely citrus on the nose, the initial flavours are more flowery, with a dark citrus length.

However, more discussion revolved around the launch of this year’s Glenmorangie Private Edition: the Tùsail. Attempting to keep the same mash and method of the Original, the Tùsail differs from the Original by using Maris Otter barley – used only by a select few considering the difficulty and cost of production compared to commercial barley. But boy, is it worth it. A spectacular amber harvest gold; the nose is much sweeter, almost toffee, maltier and earthier. A deeper flavour, the toffee and barley come through rather prominently, something spicy and nostalgic (I may have gotten some dark chocolate too), an intensely winter scotch. Absolutely beautiful, the Hoodooist is in awe of the Tùsail.

Featuring Oswald the Otter!

Featuring Oswald the Otter!

For cocktails, the first simple Orange Zest brought out the complexity of the citrus of the Glenmorangie Original with ginger ale and Angostura bitters, a simple enough drink, but a refreshing and effective one.

The second, the Spey Trip, is a fascinating drink, inherited by the SCOTCH pop up from the hotel’s resident Donovan Bar. Inspired by the Balvenie scotch it uses, and the Speyside region it hails from, the Spey Trip is constructed entirely from the scotch and its containers. The tumbler is the laser-cut bottom half of the Balvenie bottle, the platform it is served on also made from the Balvenie casks. An Old Fashioned using figs instead of sugar syrup, a spectacular drink that brings out the spicy sweetness of the Balvenie with the fig, which also appear as dried garnish (which dipped in the Old Fashioned taste incredible).

I was left torn about this drink by the end of it, since the first half was wonderfully layered and complex, but the last half became overwhelmingly sweet with the figs. And a whisky like Balvenie is a shame to lose.

The Spey Trip

The Spey Trip

The SCOTCH bar’s atmosphere is perfect for the venue, relaxed, subdued, with the occasional tartan – the Brown’s Hotel itself is a stunning building (from 1837), the interior sprawling, and couches numerous. And service is impeccable. A fantastic addition to the London whisky scene, and one I wish was permanent.

Drinks: **** – *****
Atmosphere: ****
Service: *****

Brown’s Hotel

33 Albemarle Street, Mayfair
London, W1S 4BP

https://twitter.com/browns_hotel

HEY. YES. THERE IS MORE.

I mean, it *is* Burns Night tonight, and if you’re gonna stay in, might as well do it with a couple of easy to concoct cocktail at home, devised by Alexander & James.

The Haig Clubman

The Haig Clubman

Haig Clubman
A refreshing tasting whisky cocktail which combines gentle spice and fruitiness perfectly.

Ingredients:
50ml Haig Club
35ml Sparkling apple soda
6 dashes ginger bitters

Method:
Built over hand-cracked ice in either a highball or tumbler, garnished with a long slice of root ginger (ideally cut with a mandolin).

But hey, say you’re more of a bourbon person (what the hell are you doing here?) but say you are, we haven’t forgotten you!

The Apple Mint Julep

The Apple Mint Julep

Apple Mint Julep
A light cocktail with a fruitful flavour and a hint of mint is perfect for a refreshing serve this
Burns Night.

Ingredients:
60ml Bulleit Bourbon
90ml apple juice
A dash or two of bitters
3-4 mint sprigs

Method:
Muddle the mint and apple juice together in a cocktail shaker. Add the Bulleit bourbon, a couple dashes of bitters and ice to the shaker. Shake well for 20 seconds and then strain into a tumbler glass filled with cubes of ice. Garnish with a mint leaf if desired

That’s all, folks! Make sure to enjoy your Burns Night with your favourite scotch – we know we will!

Winter 2014 Mega-Post!

Here it is! The obligatory Winter MEGA POST!

It’s December, and we all need something to perk us up with the obscenely cold weather London’s been having. So the Hoodooist thought, hey, what the hell, let’s cover some of the best winter themes London has to offer in bars, winter pop-ups, cocktail recipes and gift ideas!

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Bars with Festive Cocktails

For a pretty traditionally festive drink, try Thank F**k It’s Buttered by Loves Company (Click HERE for full review): A spiced hot buttered rum (butter-washed Zacapa 23) with lemon and cloves. Absolutely excellent. Tackle it on an empty stomach this, this is a heavy drink.

Got to recommend BUMP Caves (Click HERE for full review) – all done up in Christmas lights and a beautiful tree – for a Flip Out: Bourbon, Port, Amaro and Fino Sherry; slightly herbal, heavy and sweet, with a nice kick from the bourbon.

On the other hand, maybe something way less traditional? Agaveria El Nivel’s (Click HERE for full review) winter drink, the El Funibundo, let’s you choose your own tequila, with winter berries, pomegranate and hibiscus. Fruity and seasonal, with a twist.

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Gaucho Broadgate's Winter Terrace

Gaucho Broadgate’s Winter Terrace

 

Winter Pop-Ups

Another option? Take advantage of the loads of winter terraces and chalet pop ups sprouting around London this season.

The Gaucho Broadgate Winter Terrace (Click HERE for full review) is one of my favourite winter pop ups this season with a spectacularly warm outdoor area, cosy with heat lamps, hot water bottles and blankets galore. Hot Smoked Apple; Belvedere Vodka, fresh pressed apple juice, a touch of Ardbeg 10 yr, and a cinnamon rim. Hot apple and cinnamon is always a good winter warmer, the vodka giving it the right alcohol content and that warmth of the whiskey is just right to not overpower.

The Lodge d’Argent chalet pop up at the Coq d’Argent in City takes pride Hennessy Cognac cocktails, or neat Hennessy with cigar pairings. Going all out with the chalet theme makes the Lodge a great spot to relax with a complex Romeo y Julieta De-Luxe to smoke, paired with Hennessy Paradis Cognac.

The tented Nordic wonderland from last year is back! WigWamBam at the Queen of Hoxton is a much more informal chill-out zone serving a variety of hot drinks, from mulled wines to hot toddies, eventually breaking out the massive BBQ in the middle of the tent for massive meals. Get here early as it opens, before the crowd fills out the entire space.

Finally, why not pop by the Floridita Rum Chalet pop up (Click HERE for full review) for a Ski Break: rich, dark hot chocolate, with Plantation 5yr and cinnamon. Warm, slightly spicy, slightly bitter, slightly sweet, all indulgent. A very short drink in a teacup – but that’s all you need, this is a very heavy drink.

 

Floridita's Ski Break

Floridita’s Ski Break

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Cocktails at Home

But hey, it’s cold. Maybe you’d rather stay in and assault that liquor cabinet and knock something up for yourself. And let’s face it, mulling wine can be *such* a process. Cocktails this year, kids.

An easily prepared drink that the Hoodooist particularly enjoys is a Vermouth Sour and twist. You want the Antica Formula Carpano red vermouth for this – wonderfully festive with intense flavours of orange peel and marmalade, winter spices and some warming oaky woodiness. A long, dry finish of cherries, a tannic red wine, date-sugariness and bitter oranges makes it a great choice for aperitif before a big winter dinner.

Antica Formula Carpano Vermouth

Antica Formula Carpano Vermouth

The Hoodooist’s Winter Sour

Ingredients:

50 mls Antica Formula Carpano Vermouth
20 mls Fresh Lemon Juice
20 mls Simple Syrup
Garnish: Twist of Orange peel

Method:
Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice.
Shake, and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.
Garnish with orange peel.

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Who wants to add a little Parisian chic to their Winter? If so, check out the wonderful European Ambassador of Grand Marnier, Julien LaFond’s recipe for:

The French Artist

The French Artist

The French Artist

Ingredients:
30ml GRAND MARNIER® Cordon Rouge
15ml VSOP Cognac
15ml French Dry Vermouth
20ml Freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
20ml Homemade Redcurrant & Vanilla Syrup (or Grenadine Syrup)
20ml Egg White
Garnish: Redcurrants coated with icing sugar

Method:
Pour all ingredients into a shaker
Dry shake (Shake without ice), to create the emulsion
Add some cubed ice and shake vigorously
Double strain into a coupette glass and add the garnish

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But hey, maybe you want something surprising. The Hoodooist greatly enjoys a Scandinavian winter, and definitely a Scandinavian Christmas – and one can hardly go wrong with Tanqueray No. 10 anyway. Bring a bit of Sweden into your home with dill in Gareth Evans’ (WORLD CLASS™ UK Winner and bar manager of City Social, Click HERE for full review) Scandinavian Martini:

Dill or No Dill

Dill or No Dill

DILL OR NO DILL

Ingredients:
50ml Tanqueray No. TEN Gin
15ml Elderflower syrup
10ml Fresh lemon juice
30ml Cucumber water
2 Sprigs of dill
1 Pinch of smoked salt

Method:
Place all ingredients into a chilled shaker and shake.
Fine strain into a coupette.
Garnish with sprig of dill pegged to the glass

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And finally, for something a little weirder by Matthew Armitage of the Craft Cocktail Co. @ Grotto Outre, Shoreditch.

The Mince Pie Martini

The Mince Pie Martini

The Mince Pie Martini

Ingredients:
50ml minced meat mix infused vodka
1 teaspoon of apricot jam
1 teaspoon of Mirabelle plum jam
25ml Lemon Juice
15ml Sugar Syrup (1 part caster sugar: 1 part water)
Garnish: Lemon twist

 

Method for making Minced Meat Infused Vodka:

Place 100g minced meat mix in a sealed container with 1 bottle of vodka. Leave to infuse for a week. Strain through a sieve to remove the larger pieces and then through a coffee filter to remove the small pieces. Once it’s strained pour back into the vodka bottle. Ready when you need it.

Method for Mince Pie Martini:

Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add cubed ice and shake. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

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Gift Ideas; PRESENTS, SUCH PRESENTS

T’is the season TO BE SHOWERED WITH GIFTS.

You can’t make the drinks above with a decent cocktail set, can ya? And if you’re gonna make ‘em, might as well do it with a little pizazz.

The cocktail obsessive craves a well-crafted cocktail set, and I can’t think of one that beats the Alexander & James Japanese Cocktail Set Christmas Gift Pack. This cocktail set is the epitome of luxurious bar wear and is the ultimate gift for cocktail aficionados.

A&J Japanese Cocktail Set Christmas Gift Pack

A&J Japanese Cocktail Set Christmas Gift Pack

Inside this set:

1 x Usagi Heavyweight Cobbler Shaker
1 x Natural Wood Muddler
1 x Premium Julep Strainer
1 x Copper measure
1 x Teardrop Barspoon
1 x Seamless Paddle Mixing Glass

This little piece of heaven is available from Alexander & James priced at £180.00.

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Grand Marnier Limited Edition

Grand Marnier Limited Edition

Grand Marnier’s Cognac-based orange deliciousness is a perfect winter liqueur that can be added to any hot chocolate for a bit of spice. And their limited edition Parisian ‘Marinière’ bottle celebrates the coming of Christmas with a striped Breton design worn by sailors and popularised by Coco Chanel. Modern and playful, the couture style label looks showcases the rich history of the brand through the family crest, while the blue, white and red striped ribbon that runs around the uniquely shaped bottle reinforces Grand Marnier’s home place – in the heart of France.

This annual treat is available from luxury retailer Harvey Nichols, London priced at £26.05 for a 70cl bottle.

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Kindzmarauli Wine

Kindzmarauli Wine

And finally, if wine’s more your thing – skip the predictable Marsala for something more unique. The Hoodooist’s personal choice is the sweeter, beautifully dark, purple-red Kindzmarauli wine from Georgia. Made with Saperavi grapes; this soft, rounded and sticky (and lip-colouring!) wine is an excellent pair with cheeses and rich Christmassy cakes. Notes of damson jam, berries, spice and soft tannins.

Prices vary amongst wine stores, but can be purchased at Hedonism Wines for about £13.00 for a bottle.

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WHEW. That was a long post. But winter comes with winter goodness that must be enjoyed!

So go forth and take advantage of the festive drinks at London’s bars and pop-ups, or make your own cocktails at home while you think of gifts for friends and family (or hell, yourself. It’s cold outside, you deserve it.)

Enjoy your Winter, London! And Happy AlcoHolidays!

 

Floridita Ski Chalet pop-up, Soho

Type of Bar: Pop up, Winter, Tiny
Damage££
Ideal for: Date, Food, Hot Chocolate

 

Alright, first things first, this isn’t a review of Floridita the bar, but of the ‘Ski Chalet’ pop up they have opened at the bar. With its own menu, the chalet presents a very different variety of drinks from the bar.

Floridita Rum Chalet (2)

Alright, rum. It’s in all the drinks on this menu – 6 drinks, one of which is a sharer between two.

Let’s start with the best.

This can’t *really* be called a ‘cocktail’ as such, but is enough of a reason to visit: the Ski Break presents rich, dark hot chocolate, with Plantation 5yr and cinnamon. Warm, slightly spicy, slightly bitter, slightly sweet, all indulgent. A very short drink in a teacup – but that’s all you need, this is a very heavy drink.

The other at the top of the list would be After the Storm, a mixture that is essentially mulled wine and rum: Red wine, Element 8 spiced rum, heated with citrus infused agave, mandarin Napoleon, raspberry liqueur and Wray & Nephew overproof rum. Skipping the effort of actually mulling the wine and instead heating it up with liqueurs, a heavily alcoholic drink served with a rim of brown sugar and cinnamon is presented. An excellent winter warmer.

 

After The Storm

After The Storm

A little further down, the White Ice: Brugal Anejo rum, Araku coffee liqueur, Grand Marnier, double cream. Wise to not go for the obvious Kahlua, the Araku makes the drink. Nostalgic, the nose is shockingly similar to the orange chocolate in a box of Macintosh! As far as White Russians go, this doesn’t stand out as much as ‘it is a White Russian’ – the Grand Marnier seems to be more effective on the nose than in flavour – but if a White Russian’s your thing, this is an obvious choice.

 

Finally, the Adam’s Apple: Appleton (geddit) V/X rum, heated with apple cider, apple liquor, sugar and apple juice. I’m sorry to say that this drink just doesn’t work. Especially at it being the most expensive on the menu, it is one that can be easily avoided. With excellent drinks like the Ski Break and After the Storm, it is best skipped. Its attempt to adhere to the apple theme was not thought out well enough.

The Ski Break

The Ski Break

Décor-wise, there isn’t much to be said, it is a sectioned off area with a few ski chalet paraphernalia like furred rugs, etc. Its seclusion from the rest of Floridita is appreciated, but not much to rave about. Considering it is under the staircase, I do wish they gave the underside a new paintjob.

Service was impeccable, on the spot, and very attentive, with Patagonian tapas constantly making its way to the table. On that note, fabulous tapas.

 

In short, the Ski Chalet is a great spot to pop by on an evening if you happen to be in the area, if only for the Ski Break hot chocolate. Simple but satisfying drinks, and excellent tapas. Pop by.

Drinks: ***
Atmosphere: ***
Service: ****

 

Floridita Ski Chalet,

100 Wardour Street,
London W1F 0TN

http://www.floriditalondon.com/

Gaucho Winter Terrace, Broadgate

Type of Bar: Pop Up, WinterTerrace, Bar/Restaurant, Tiny
Damage££
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups, Food, Rainy Days

What timing. The Hoodooist runs through the rain with an umbrella that is dying on him to Gaucho Broadgate’s launch of their Winter Terrace. Curious to see how the outdoor terrace stands the downpour, he shakes some of the rain off and fell in love.

Mind you, it’s tiny. If you can book a space, do it. But on a cold rainy day, I can’t say I’d be anywhere else than under that canopy with the scorching heaters, snuggled in the couches with friends and the blankets and hot-water bottles Gaucho provides. Yes. Blankets and hot-water bottles. Entirely enclosed by plush ferns and twinkling lights, this city centre oasis offers a wintery haven complete with a stunning hand-carved ice sculpture.

Gaucho Terr

Wanna make that deal sweeter? How does a Hennessey Hot Chocolate sound? Hennessey fine de cognac, chocolate liqueur, hot chocolate. It ain’t inspired, but it’s what you need. Served in a tall tumbler with chocolate shavings, it defines the venue for being a warm snuggle-haven as the rain pours down just inches away from you behind the thicket of bushes.

Two more hot cocktails on the menu: the first is the traditional Hot Toddy; Glenmorangie 10yr whiskey, fresh lemon, honey, orange marinade and cloves, though still a good hot drink, remind me too much of having the flu to really get into. What really did the job for me was the incredible Hot Smoked Apple; Belvedere Vodka, fresh pressed apple juice, a touch of Ardbeg 10 yr, and a cinnamon rim. Hot apple and cinnamon is always a good winter warmer, the vodka giving it the right alcohol content and that warmth of the whiskey is just right to not overpower. A favourite of the night.

 

Assorted melange of cocktails

Assorted melange of cocktails

Two cold spritzes were presented as well. The Spritz Rose mixes Argentine sparkling Rose with Torrontes white wine, elderflower and blackberry liqueurs. This was very well balanced, sweeter yes, but the blackberry helps mellow down the elderflower rather well – the preferred of the two spritzes. The second is the Spritz Blanco, Sauvignon Blanc/Torrontes, Aperol and fresh grapefruit juice, topped up Domaine Chandon; bit heavy on the grapefruit, this drink wasn’t a winner across the table, but one you can work with.

Drinks here are approachable and nothing too complex, but very well executed, and all at about 10 pounds.

A carefully chosen selection of Argentine wines is also available.

Domaine Chandon Brut NV

Besides that, the food served – spectacular. Canapés of rare steak, ceviche, sliders, and dulce the leche cheesecake made the night.

Service was polite and swift, and I must applaud Red Kite PR for a wonderful launch. I have to say, if there is anything to try this winter, it is this.

Drinks: ***
Atmosphere: *****
Service: ****

Gaucho Broadgate Winter Terrace

5 Finsbury Avenue,
London EC2M 2PG

http://www.gauchorestaurants.co.uk/restaurants/restaurant.php?id=broadgate

The House of Peroni Press Launch

Beer giant Peroni relaunches it’s massively popular pop-up – House of Peroni – in London, a ‘celebration of Italian culture’.

A multi-storey affair, it presents Italian art installations reflecting Rome, with food provided by Bottega Wapping (Yum), and cocktails innovated with Peroni beer.

Now I ain’t no art critic, so let’s go over the drinks as we wander through the various installations munching on canapes.

"The Secret Garden" art installation

“The Secret Garden” art installation

Unfortunately, the launch only served 3 of the 6 cocktails proposed – which to be honest, was a massive disappointment. If this was a matter of using certain ingredients sparingly, a token-for-cocktail affair could have been organised. A real shame since couple of the drinks not being served at the launch seemed to be far more promising that what was served in the end.

Let’s begin with the best of the lot:

The Nerone, inspired by the myth of Nero standing by as Rome burned, evoked the fire and smoke of a city-wide conflagration. Peroni Nastro Azzurro shaken with chilli, passionfruit and smokey Lapsang souchong tea. The smokey tea really mellows the normally overpowering passionfruit, simmering with spiciness. Unfortunately, the flavours separate if the drinker takes time, leaving the last half of the drink to taste almost entirely of Peroni instead of a steady mix, or slight layering of the drink. Nonetheless, a successful cocktail.

The following two were a bit less enticing.

Fellini’s La Dolce Vita inspired the La Dolce Vista (geddit.) – meant to be sipped slowly, a twist on the Aperol Spritz. Peroni NA, orange, grapefruit and Prosecco; demands a VERY long sipping time. And though mediocre, would be probably more enjoyable as a shorter drink. In any case, mixed well, and something to relax in the outdoor area with.

Finally, the Honey Peroni brings together Peroni NA, vanilla infused rum and honey for a drink described as well-balanced – but is anything but. Painfully sweet on vanilla and honey, and left unfinished.

The "Roma Phantasma" art installation

The “Roma Phantasma” art installation

Unfortunately, I cannot comment on the last three drinks that were not served on the night, so cannot review them. Which should have been considered since a press launch would demand, well, people giving a fair review of what a venue has to offer. Similar with the sparse canapes. In any case, service was excellent, employees were absolutely wonderful.

In any case, the House of Peroni provides an interesting, if not university-house-party-esque atmosphere for a night out, even if the coffee leaves a lot to be desired. For an evening of socialising, worth one drink.

Drinks: **
Atmosphere: ****
Service: ****

The House of Peroni

64 Lincoln’s Inn Fields,
London, WC2A 3JX.

http://thehouseofperoni.com/