Visit London Blog » cocktails http://blog.visitlondon.com Enjoy the very best of London Tue, 30 Sep 2014 14:54:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 London Fashion Week: Events You Can Go To http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/02/london-fashion-week-events-you-can-go-to/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/02/london-fashion-week-events-you-can-go-to/#comments Sat, 08 Feb 2014 09:30:03 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=37687 SS13 Alice Temperley at a previous edition of London Fashion Weekend

If you’re not lucky enough to get a ticket to next week’s London Fashion Week AW14, don’t worry – there are plenty of other ways to enjoy LFW fever in London.

From couture cocktails to catwalk shows, we’ve picked out the coolest official and unofficial London Fashion Week events – and, best of all, they’re open to everyone!

International Fashion Showcase 2014

Discover emerging designers from around the world at the International Fashion Showcase. Organised by the British Council and British Fashion Council, the umbrella event sees 30 embassies and cultural institutions across the capital exhibit works by emerging fashion designers from their countries. And, for the first time, you can catch 14 of the showcases in one place: 180 The Strand.

London Fashion Weekend Feb 2013

London Fashion Weekend

After London Fashion Week, Somerset House remains a buzz of activity with London Fashion Weekend (20-23 Feb). Unlike LFW, it’s open to everyone (with a ticket), so you can make like Anna Wintour and catch all the action from the front row. Catwalk showcases feature Julien Macdonald, Amanda Wakeley, Farhi by Nicole Farhi and Maria Grachvogel. You’ll also get the chance to shop top designer brands, attend industry talks and get a free Limited Edition Designer Tote Bag. Plus if you’ve got your own fashion blog, you can apply to be the Official London Fashion Weekend SS14 Blogger!

Juergen Teller ‘Bus Stops’

If you take a bus along The Strand during London Fashion Week, check out the tops of the bus-stop shelters and you’ll spot a series of photographs by top fashion photographer and artist Juergen Teller. This uniquely placed exhibition has been organised by Transport for London and gallery Annin Arts as part of celebrations for the Year of the Bus. The photos portray well-known faces from the fashion industry and beyond, including Kate Moss, Bjork and Dame Vivienne Westwood. Just make sure you nab a window seat on the correct side of the top deck!

Image courtesy of the Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair

The Vintage Collections: Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair

To mark London Fashion Week, Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair is hosting a special edition entitled The Vintage Collections. Known as ‘the Selfridges of vintage’, the fair will present a highlight of the LFW schedule, with style inspiration for the coming season. There’ll be 50 traders offering womenswear, menswear and accessories from classic London labels such as Vivienne Westwood, Ossie Clark and Biba – plus a tearoom, an alterations service, makeovers and more.

X Guestlist Catwalk Show at Vibe Bar

Brick Lane’s happening Vibe Bar is hosting its own alternative to London Fashion Week, the X Guestlist Catwalk Show. As well as catwalk showcases by designers Elena Ferti, Yan Neo and Jenny Sun, there’ll be an exhibition of work by Mia Hawk and Benjamin Jensen.

The Brigitte Bardot cocktail from Drake & Morgan

London Fashion Week Cocktails

Maybe it’s something to do with Sex & The City, but cocktails and fashion seem to be the perfect pairing – just like Carrie and Big (eventually). Bartenders across London are busy conjuring up fashion-themed cocktails ready for the LFW set. The PJ Lounge at Mayfair hotel Dukes St James London has a limited-edition cocktail menu for February, featuring tipples such as The Cara, The Kate and The Karl.

Drake & Morgan (the people behind The Refinery, The Parlour and other London restaurants and bars) have had a similar brainwave, and during LFW will be serving cocktails inspired by classic fashion icons: including The Brigitte Bardot (bourbon, brandy, sugar syrup, egg yolk, cream and chocolate powder) and The Jackie Kennedy (white rum, lime, sugar syrup and Maraschino Liqueur).

Skinny Salads and Couture Cocktails at Mews of Mayfair

Skinny Salads at Mews of Mayfair

Close by, restaurant/bar Mews of Mayfair will be catering for model diets with its limited-edition range of low-calorie Skinny Salads, paired with ‘super-slim Couture Cocktails’. There are four pairings to choose from, including Hot Smoked Salmon accompanied by a flute of English Garden fizz (in total: 235 calories) and Prawn & Crayfish Salad with Mutiny Mews (146 calories). Available 14-18 Feb only.

Help a Capital Child party

Help A Capital Child LFW Party

This Valentine’s Day, show some real love and book a ticket for the Help a Capital Child LFW Party. The shindig at London’s Sway will raise money for Capital FM’s Help A Capital Child charity, and promises to be great fun, with catwalk shows from London’s hottest emerging designers, DJs, music and partying until 3am.

Italian Valentine Fashion Night

The very same evening, the Italian Valentine Fashion Night will take place at Il Bottaccio near Hyde Park, featuring some of the best fashion and homeware brands from Italy and raising money for the Amy Winehouse Foundation with a charity auction. There’ll also be a special performance by Mitch Winehouse and other celebrities.

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On the Wagon: Virgin cocktails and alcohol-free beer in London http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/01/on-the-wagon-virgin-cocktails-and-alcohol-free-beer-in-london/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/01/on-the-wagon-virgin-cocktails-and-alcohol-free-beer-in-london/#comments Fri, 03 Jan 2014 10:00:20 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=37115 Alcohol-free cocktail Coco-rita at Redemption

If you don’t drink, have made a New Year’s resolution to stay off alcohol or are taking part in Cancer Research’s Dryathlon, it doesn’t mean you can’t explore London’s buzzing bars and pubs. Have a great (sober) night out at one of these watering holes:

Bavarian Beerhouse

At Bavarian Beerhouse’s two pubs – in Old Street and Tower Hill – you’ll find an alcohol-free German wheat beer on the menu, Erdinger Alkoholfrei. The perfect accompaniment for your Schnitzel and pretzels. For a low-alcohol alternative also from Germany, try Pilsner’s Veltins Alkoholfrei at Vinopolis’ Brew Wharf.

The Montagu Pyke

Like many other pubs in London today, The Montagu Pyke serves a small selection of alcohol-free options. At this Wetherspoons pub on Charing Cross Road you can order a Becks Blue (maximum 0.05% ABV) or alcohol-free Kopparberg cider. So if you’re on a night out with your mates, there’s something for everyone. Sorted.

Redemption Bar

Redemption

Redemption is a totally alcohol-free gastro pub, located close to Westbourne Park. Since opening in September, it has gained huge media attention for its teetotal outlook and menu, which includes tasty mocktails, fruit infusions, teas and coffee – as well as healthy veggie grub.

Met Bar

The Met Bar

Park Lane favourite The Met Bar was once membership only and attracted celebs on wild nights out. Nowadays the membership requirement has now been lifted, so you can pop in to enjoy one of their selection of creative mocktails, such as the Up Rooter with homemade English beatroot puree or the Ying Yang with strawberries, pear and fresh parsley.

Ping Pong

Dim sum specialist Ping Pong on the Southbank has a great line in alcohol-free options. As well as fresh lemonade, soft drinks and a huge selection of teas (including ice teas and beautiful flowering varieties), there are fresh ‘coolers’ with ingredients like goji berries, mango juice and peppermint leaves. Enjoy with food or in the bar area.

Dishoom Covent Garden

Dishoom

Inspired by the traditional Bombay Cafés, Dishoom in Covent Garden is the place to go for Indian-inspired mocktails and soft drinks. At the downstairs bar (below the restaurant) you’ll find a good selection of tempting tipples, including Mango & Fennel Lassi, Virgin Bombay Colada and Thums Up. Another branch of Dishoom can be found in Shoreditch.

More pubs and bars in London

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London Bar and Restaurant News: PipsDish, Shimmy, Upstairs at Nancy’s, Purl Pop-Up http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/10/london-bar-and-restaurant-news-pipsdish-shimmy-upstairs-at-nancys-and-purl-pop-up/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/10/london-bar-and-restaurant-news-pipsdish-shimmy-upstairs-at-nancys-and-purl-pop-up/#comments Thu, 17 Oct 2013 09:00:42 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=35725 To counteract London’s autumnal climate, a number of exciting new bars, restaurants and pubs are springing up, providing cosy interiors, heart-warming fare and entertaining distractions to keep the cold at bay.

PipsDish Covent Garden
PipsDish
After serving food in a disused north London Citroën Garage for two years, Philip Dundas – ex-BBC producer turned food writer and pop-up cook – now has a new restaurant in the West End. This “home from home” restaurant (pictured above) combines the magical atmosphere of the Garage pop-up with Philip’s no-bookings, no-menu, eat-what-you’re-given approach and a wine selection chosen by a Master of Wine.

Upstairs at Nancy's
Upstairs at Nancy’s
Located atop Shoreditch’s most recently revived public house, this new bar peddles the products of London’s best brewers, distillers, vintners and cocktail barrellers. Expect Borough Wines, Kamm & Sons, Butler’s, Boodles, Sipsmith, The Botanist, Five Points, Partizan and The Kernal.

Shimmy
Shimmy
West London now has a new, much needed, late night dance floor. Shimmy (hidden behind the door pictured above) encourages playfulness and eccentricity, with an enchanted wardrobe staircase, Scrabble tiled bar and “Magic Far Away Tree” theme. Optical illusions and quirky Victorian trinkets are complemented by stylish exposed brickwork and staff dressed in Gatsby-eque, flapper or bow-tie attire. And we won’t even dare to mention what happens in the toilets!

The White Hart
This Victorian Goliath at the river’s edge in Barnes has been through a huge transformation of late. The new Head Chef is BBC MasterChef finalist Tom Whitaker, the new restaurant boasts its own smokery and there are balconies on each of its three floors. Look out for future master classes, wine tastings and supplier evenings.

Also keep a look out in October and early November for…

Momentus – a fitting name for the new Moet Champagne bar at The Cumberland Hotel, opening in October.

PurlPurl at The Bedford is the first long-term pop-up (pictured right) from Marylebone-based cocktail specialists Purl, who are setting up in Balham’s Bedford pub from 5 November until the end of April. Expect aroma, fogs, airs, foams, food, bespoke serviceware and liquid nitrogen.

Rumble at the Deli is a new London event, held at Tom Conran’s Notting Hill hangout, Tom’s Deli. Two chefs go head to head each night to see who can create the best three course meal from ingredients selected fresh from the local market each morning. Launching on 7 November, big name chefs taking part include Pratap Chahal (Le Manoir, Chez Bruce, Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s), and Tom Starker (Heston’s Dinner).

The House of Peroni will celebrate the New Wave of Italian Style and Creativity. Opening on 6 November, punters can expect a luxurious cinema space, two bars with cocktails created by Gerry Calabrese, a video installation by critically acclaimed video artist Quayola and a new House menu created by the Michelin-starred Costardi brothers.

More bars and restaurants in London

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RHS Chelsea Flower Show-Themed Events in London http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/05/rhs-chelsea-flower-show-themed-events-in-london/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/05/rhs-chelsea-flower-show-themed-events-in-london/#comments Wed, 08 May 2013 13:00:19 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=32969 Didn’t manage to get a ticket to the 2013 RHS Chelsea Flower Show? Not to worry, there’s a whole host of floral-themed events happening in London during May for everyone to enjoy. Some take place solely during the flower show itself (21-25 May), whilst others are timed to coincide with the Chelsea Fringe (18 May-9 June), and aims to spread the horticultural enthusiasm throughout London. Some of our favourites are below, but you can also visit the Chelsea Fringe website for lots more ideas.

The Belgraves Edible Garden

Between 21 and 25 May the Belgraves hotel, located in Knightsbridge, is transforming its terrace into an Edible Garden that features a wall of edible flowers and an interactive cocktail station. Not only will there be cocktail classes and ‘food and flower pairing’ tutorials, but guests can also take away seed packets so they can enjoy the same tastes at home. Those staying in the hotel can opt for the full Bed, Brunch and Botany’experience, which features delights such as brunch in bed, an edible flower recipe book and complimentary cocktails.

Chelsea in Bloom

For eight years Chelsea in Bloom has been extending the wonders of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show throughout the entire borough by encouraging local retailers to create their own floral displays. These creations, this year themed on ‘decades’ to mark the centenary of the prestigious flower show, are assessed for prize-worthiness by official RHS judges and can be viewed between 20 and 25 May. To see them all, join the regular tours, which take place every half hour.

A Guide to Green Scents at the Athenaeum Hotel

Not only is this 5 star hotel on Piccadilly offering a menu of delicious floral cocktails for the duration of the Chelsea Fringe, but it is also hosting ‘a guide to green scents’ on 21 May. This evening event is inspired by the hotel’s landmark Living Wall (right), and features a talk by perfume specialist Lila Das Gupta on perfumes that capture the fragrance of nature, plus a guide to the scented flowers that are grown on the Athenaeum’s wall. Tickets for the talk cost £15 per person and include the talk, canapés and a cocktail. Send an email to reserve your place.

Chelsea Flower Show Menu at LIMA

For the duration of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show LIMA, the Peruvian restaurant in Bloomsbury, is putting on a celebratory menu that puts a flowery twist on their national cuisine. Dishes include orange and pisco poached lobster salad and steamed fillet of halibut with rhubarb blue potato aji Amarillo. Guests can either opt for a three course menu which includes a Chelsea Cocktail of melon and pink Champagne (£60) or order from the a la carte. The menu is available from the 20 to 26 May.

Floral Afternoon Teas

Given the traditional nature of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, it’s no wonder that many venues are serving special afternoon teas during the week to celebrate. Radission Blu Edwardian, Vanderbilt, for example, is serving a Floral Afternoon Tea throughout May that includes rose fruit jellies and orange blossom and lavender scones (£29.50). Nearby, the Royal Garden Hotel offers elderflower posset, jasmine opera and rose marshmallow as part of its celebratory Afternoon Tea during Chelsea week, which is accompanied by tunes from the resident pianist (£24). Further east, The Dorchester has worked with the team behind Laurent-Perrier’s 2013 show garden to create a menu that includes delights such as a ‘lavender basket’; a dark chocolate tartlet infused with lavender scent and decorated with a spun sugar handle. This afternoon tea menu is available between 20 and 26 May for £56.

Rib Room Bar Floral cocktailsFloral Facials and Cocktails

The Jumeirah Carlton Tower is offering a range of excellent floral indulgence options; why not follow one of their new Rose Facials (£65) with a Chelsea Flower Show-themed cocktail in the hotel’s Rib Room Bar? Guests can choose between rose, camomile and elderflower martinis – yum!

The Avant Garden in Covent Garden

Head to the Covent Garden piazza to see Crabtree & Evelyn’s twist on the classic British herb garden. Created by garden designer and rising star Emma Coleman, ‘The Avant Garden’ will be a tranquil urban oasis that promises to be a highlight of the 2013 Chelsea Fringe Festival from 14 May to 9 June.

Floral Cocktails at Barts, South Kensington

Popular speakeasy Barts, situated close to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, is offering a special cocktail in honour of the event. ‘The Chelsea Flower’ is a mix of home-made lavender-infused Grey Goose Vodka, peach liquor and jasmine essence, garnished with a molecular raviolo of lavender. Furthermore, guests can really get into the spirit of the occasion by availing themselves of the bar’s dressing-up box, which will feature a range of floral-themed items during the show week.

Floristry classes and lunch at Tom Aikens, Chelsea

Learn the delicate art of floristry at the Michelin-starred Tom Aikens restaurant in Chelsea, where you can create a stunning arrangement of freshly-cut blooms to take home, before tucking into a delicious three course lunch that contains edible flowers. The package also includes coffee and pastries and a glass of Laurent Perrier champagne. Classes run throughout the RHS Chelsea Flower Show week, as well as on selected other May dates, and cost £120.

Chelsea Fringe at Battersea Power Station

This free event takes place between 17 to 19 May and 21 to 26 May, and allows visitors to enjoy a variety of entertainment and activities in the newly-opened temporary riverside park at Battersea Power Station. The focus of the fringe hub at Battersea will be installations, including one that features 35 people planted knee-deep in soil to promote conversations on sustainability. See the website for opening times and full details.

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London Hotel News: Pullman London St Pancras Opens, New Accor Hotels, and Gordon Ramsay and Mary Portas to Open London Hotel http://blog.visitlondon.com/2012/09/london-hotel-news-pullman-london-st-pancras-opens-new-accor-hotels-and-gordon-ramsay-and-mary-portas-to-open-london-hotel/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2012/09/london-hotel-news-pullman-london-st-pancras-opens-new-accor-hotels-and-gordon-ramsay-and-mary-portas-to-open-london-hotel/#comments Thu, 20 Sep 2012 08:47:35 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=29175 In this week’s news, one new hotel and four to follow soon; more cocktails than you can shake a cocktail umbrella at; a new bar and restaurant near Wembley Stadium; and a chance to stay at a unique new hotel venture.

Hotel Openings

Novotel London St Pancras has re-opened as the Pullman London St Pancras following a comprehensive refurbishment. The four-star hotel offers 312 bedrooms, free Wi-Fi and a new restaurant serving modern European cuisine. Pullman London St Pancras is just three minutes’ walk from King’s Cross St Pancras Station, making it ideal if you’ve got an early or late train to catch. It’s also well-located for sightseeing, with the British Library and Wellcome Collection within walking distance, and excellent Tube, train and bus links.

Coming Soon

Hotel operator Accor has announced it will open four new hotels in London this October. Novotel London Blackfriars; the flagship ibis London Blackfriars; ibis Shepherd’s Bush, within five minutes’ walk of Westfield London; and Mercure Greenwich in Maurice Drummond House, a 1930s building once used as accommodation for Metropolitan Police Officers. More information about all properties next month.

Eat and Drink

You can now drink and dine at Hilton London Wembley. The hotel has opened Association restaurant, serving modern British fare, and Icons bar, where you can enjoy a cocktail and views of Wembley Stadium.

The Trafalgar Hotel is hosting a pop-up art installation of work by Mark Fairhurst, who became an artist this August after being inspired by the Olympic Games. The hotel has created three new cocktails in celebration of the exhibition, which can be enjoyed in the Rockwell Bar & Restaurant.

The Dorchester Collection have also indulged in some mixology, and created five cocktails inspired by each of the designers shortlisted for this year’s Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize. The cocktails are available until 3 October.

Other News

Fancy staying in a hotel run by Gordon Ramsay and Mary Portas? Then book your stay at Hotel GB, setting up in London for one week only in October as part of a TV series for Channel 4. The hotel will be staffed by TV celebrities and unemployed people looking to gain experience in the hospitality industry. To book, phone + 44(0)20 3227 5851 or email hotelguest@optomen.com explaining why you’d make a good guest on the show. There is a charge to stay at the hotel, which will be donated to unemployment charities.

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Autumn Bellinis at Vertigo 42 http://blog.visitlondon.com/2011/12/autumn-bellinis-at-vertigo-42/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2011/12/autumn-bellinis-at-vertigo-42/#comments Tue, 27 Dec 2011 12:00:16 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=24620

Champagne with a view is what Vertigo 42 offers customers who shoot up the ear-popping lift to the top of Tower 42.

But for those who are bored of plain old bubbly, the bar has introduced an autumn bellini menu, created by Vertigo 42’s mixologist.

The five new cocktails, priced at £14 each, offer a new take on the classic bellini with the following fruity flavours:

  • Yuzu and cranberry
  • Lychee and hazelnut
  • Raspberry, passion fruit and cacao
  • Orange and raspberry
  • Rose and plum

So that’s five good reasons to visit, but what about the view? Even on a misty winter evening, the view over London was spectacular and I could make out St Paul’s Cathedral, the OXO Tower and City Hall. On a clear day, you can apparently see as far as the Olympic Park.

Jenny was a guest of Vertigo 42.

What’s your favourite view over London?

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Worm Cakes and Ant Cocktails: Halloween Food and Drink in London 2011 http://blog.visitlondon.com/2011/10/worm-cakes-and-ant-cocktails-halloween-food-and-drink-in-london/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2011/10/worm-cakes-and-ant-cocktails-halloween-food-and-drink-in-london/#comments Fri, 21 Oct 2011 10:28:31 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=23548

If you’re feeling brave this Halloween, there’s plenty of ghoulish food and drink to try in London.

At Artesian bar, you can enjoy a scary Vieux Carre cocktail, containing cognac, rye whiskey, vermouth, bitters and herbal liqueur, plus two special ingredients: Columbian giant ants and mopani worms!

Or perhaps you’d prefer The Living Room’s spine-tingling Zombie, Corpse Reviver or Blood & Sand cocktails? (These cocktails are a little tamer: despite the names there are no creepy ingredients.)

Over at Gelupo in Soho, you can enjoy a Sanguinaccio gelato, made from chocolate, pigs’ blood and Marsala. Or head to Harrods for some more traditional treats: chocolates in the shape of witches, ghosts, pumpkins, skulls and eyeballs.

Even cupcakes are going spooky this Halloween. There’s a devilishly delicious selection available at The Hummingbird Bakery, topped with spiders’ webs, monsters, ghosts and pumpkins.

AAGGHH! It’s Alive! comes to Fortnum & Mason’s Demonstration Kitchen on 27 October. You can find out how to make scary Halloween dishes, from finger pies to worm cakes, perfect for Halloween parties.

Or pop into Carluccio’s for some terrifyingly good gifts for trick-or-treaters, including pumpkin lollies, ghost and pumpkin biscuits, ghost meringues, bat biscuits, Halloween jellies and chocolate pumpkins.

Happy Halloween!

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The Taste of Chelsea Flower Show: Breakfast, Afternoon Tea and Cocktails http://blog.visitlondon.com/2011/05/the-taste-of-chelsea-flower-show-breakfast-afternoon-tea-and-cocktails/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2011/05/the-taste-of-chelsea-flower-show-breakfast-afternoon-tea-and-cocktails/#comments Tue, 24 May 2011 10:00:31 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=21318

Opening today, this year’s Chelsea Flower Show sold out in record time.

If you didn’t manage to get tickets, you can still get into the horticultural mood with our pick of floral-inspired teas, cocktails and menus:

  • Blooming Botanical Breakfast at Peter Jones: Start the day with a poppy seed bloomer, rose petal and blueberry muffin, and pot of jasmine infused green tea for a wallet-friendly £9.95. Available 25-29 May, 9:30-11:30am
  • Jigsaw, King’s Road: Pick up an item from Jigsaw’s SS11 collection today and enjoy a complimentary glass of champagne while you admire the store’s floral installation. 24 May
  • Fleur-tea at the Wyndham Grand: Tuck into a floral-themed afternoon tea with treats including caramelised rosemary flowers, violet and blackcurrent éclairs and lavender shortbread. £25, available throughout May
  • Laurent-Perrier floral cocktail at the Blue Bar: Inspired by an English summer garden, this special cocktail mixes strawberry puree, rose liquer and Laurent-Perrier Brut champagne. Available 24-28 May
  • The Chelsea Flower at Barts: Speakeasy bar Barts is offering a double dose of flower power with a potent cocktail containing Grey Goose Vodka, Creme de Peche de vigne, and Mette spiritueux de Lavande plus a floral-themed dressing up box! £15.50, available until 29 May

What have we missed? Tell us in the comments below.

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Cuba in London: Cubana Restaurant and Bar http://blog.visitlondon.com/2011/04/cuba-in-london-cubana-restaurant-and-bar/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2011/04/cuba-in-london-cubana-restaurant-and-bar/#comments Sun, 24 Apr 2011 10:00:20 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=20579

We spoke to Cubana founder and Managing Director Phillip Oppenheim about opening Cubana 12 years ago, scouring Cuba for pre-revolution recipes and serving the first mojitos in London:

Choosing Cuban Cuisine

I was always fascinated by food and drink and fortunate to have travelled widely. I was a journalist in the early part of my career but I always wanted to do a restaurant. I thought of sushi in London or a greasy spoon in Paris. I wanted to do something different, not a theme bar. By the time we got round to it, sushi had already been done in London.

My then-girlfriend had studied Cuba at university. Although I had travelled a lot, I wasn’t very familiar with Latin America so we went there. We discovered cocktail culture (we served the first mojitos in London), cigars and salsa but the food had gone into decline after the Communist revolution.

To research the food, we found old pre-revolutionary cook books in a book market in Havana and we also found old plantation cooks in the countryside who gave us recipes. We also got some from Cuban-Americans in Miami. We found the mojito recipe from a barman in an illegal private bar in Havana – at that time no-one did mojitos and we brought them to the UK.

Cuban Food at Cubana

Cuban food is obviously Latin American but Mexican is spicier. Cuban food is based on very good ingredients so they don’t need to use too much spice. It’s an eclectic cuisine with North African and Spanish influences.

Our food is always made from fresh ingredients – we never use anything pre-prepared. Everything is free-range – we’ve even received an RSPCA award. Our steaks are from a top quality supplier. We use fresh fruit to make our cocktails – apart from cranberry juice!

We have two signature dishes: Pollo Criollo, that’s free-range chicken marinated in orange juice served with fried plantain and black bean rice. And Ropa Vieja which means “old clothes”. It’s a gloopy, shredded beef stew that takes a day to cook – it’s real comfort food. We sell a lot of it at Glastonbury festival.

Bringing Cuba To London

There aren’t vast numbers of Cubans in London but we get a steady flow in Cubana. The guys from the Embassy often come in and we have Cuban bands that play here. We have lots of Spanish and South American staff.

We do Cuban music and street food as part of Waterloo Carnival and Waterloo Quarter – there are music and street food events throughout July. We also have a Cubana event at Glastonbury festival.

Why Visit Cubana?

Fresh food, great cocktails, reasonable prices.

Cubana, 48 Lower Marsh, SE1 7RG

Where else can you enjoy Cuban culture in London? Tell us in the comments below.

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TGI Friday’s Breaks Cocktail World Record in Covent Garden http://blog.visitlondon.com/2011/03/tgi-fridays-breaks-cocktail-world-record-in-covent-garden/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2011/03/tgi-fridays-breaks-cocktail-world-record-in-covent-garden/#comments Wed, 30 Mar 2011 14:00:37 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=20546 TGI Friday’s is enjoying a double celebration. Not only is the restaurant chain celebrating its 25th birthday, but two days ago its bartenders broke the Guinness World Record for Most People in a Simultaneous Cocktail Flair.

To break the record, 101 of TGI Friday’s professional bartenders simultaneously performed a bar flair routine, without dropping a bottle, for more than two minutes.

Watch the Tom Cruise-esque tricks in Covent Garden’s piazza below:

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