This is one for a special occasion.

Afternoon tea is an old age tradition in England, yet it’s often seen as more fitting for the older generation. If you’re looking for something to do for a celebration or a special occasion, and cakes and tea are your thing, why not try afternoon tea at Lang (part of the Shangri-La Hotel) followed by drinks with a view at Aqua, both located in The Shard.

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Afternoon tea for one at Lang £30

Lang describes itself as an “artisan deli” and it’s accessible by London Bridge. Lang offers an oriental feel that fits in with the rest of the Shangri-La’s theme. It’s located on the ground floor of The Shard in the Shangri-La Hotel, as I was saving my experience of the sublime views over London for the drinks part of my afternoon. However, if you want your afternoon tea with a view then there are other restaurant’s in The Shard that offer this; Ting (£49 for one), Aqua (£42 for one) and Gong (£54 for one), making Lang the most affordable, at £30 for one.

The waiter who served us was honest enough to tell us that afternoon tea for one would definitely be enough to share between two (we had already had lunch), we were also offered a complimentary pastry or cake from the beautiful patisserie selection as you walk in.

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Rich hot chocolate, not complimentary with the afternoon tea but well worth getting

We were served a tantalising mix of treats – for instance, who knew earl grey scones existed? Or that apricot jam with afternoon tea was so good?

Here is a link to the current afternoon tea menu at Lang http://www.lang-shangri-la.com/afternoon-tea/

After satisfying our cake cravings we headed up to Aqua Shard on the 31st floor, notorious for its wonderful views.

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The view from Aqua

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The view from Aqua

The photos can’t do it justice but it really was magical, accompanied by a champagne cocktail – where at £16.50, you seem to being paying for the view too. It was rather busy up here as it’s obviously an infamous tourist attraction as well as a great place for Londoners who are splashing out to head to. Therefore, be prepared that you may have to stand or wait for a table to free up. However, we stood with our cocktails overlooking the view and it didn’t thwart the experience one bit.

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So, if you’re looking for something a little more special and afternoon with unforgettable views, then Lang and Aqua at The Shard should be on your list.

The Shard is located at: 32 London Bridge St, London SE1 9SG

Website: http://www.the-shard.com

 

It’s 10pm on a cold Autumn night and I’m walking around Soho, I’m suddenly stopped in my tracks, first of all, by the sight of a crepe maker in a shop window (heaven), followed further by a colourful array of gelato at the back of the shop. All of my Summer memories from Florence came flooding back to me in an instant! I gawped through the window only to discover churros (also heaven!), waffles and cakes too.

That was it, I had to go inside.

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I headed here after a light dinner, however it’s never the wrong time of day to go for ice cream, or the wrong season – there’s a growing trend in London for swapping dinner and drinks for puddings, and why not. For pure indulgence I had the Nutella filling with white chocolate sprinkles (£4.70). I have to say it was completely worth the calorie content. You can add a scoop of ice cream and an array of toppings.

Check out the crepe and waffle menu here.

There’s a couple of tables to sit down at but not many, so you may want to take your pudding away and go for a stroll around the West End while you munch.

If you really don’t want to leave the warmth of your bed but you are now dying to try Scoop, you can have gelato from Scoop delivered to your home by Deliveroo.

If you want to visit:

Covent Garden Branch – 40 Short’s Gardens,
WC2H 9AB London

Soho Branch – 53 Brewer Street,
W1F 9UY London

South Kensington Branch – 16 Old Brompton Road,
SW7 3DL London

Opening Times:

June to August
Mon – Sun 12:00 – 24:00

September to May
Sun – Wed 12:00 – 22:30
Thu – Sat 12:00 – 23:30

Take a peek at the website:http://www.scoopgelato.com/index.html

Opium Dim Sum & Cocktail Parlour

Yes you read the blog title correctly, “Fermented Pandas” are indeed on the menu in Chinatown. They’re delectable, addicting and dangerous. Once you’ve had one, you will want to indulge in more, until you arrive at the realisation that they are indeed quite potent, and maybe you should have called it a day whilst on the third fermented panda!

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Fermented Panda in the blue and white china cup

I hope by now you have realised that I am not talking about some form of inhumane animal cruelty and that I am in fact talking about one of the many glorious cocktails you can enjoy at ‘Opium Cocktail Bar & Dim Sum Parlour’ on Gerrard Street.

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Opium

‘Fermented Pandas’ wont be on the bar menu you are given, however, if you make a request to one of the bar staff then they should be able to whip one up for you, I would recommend doing so. The cocktails at Opium are concocted in such a way that they are refreshing and palatable, whilst slowly creeping up on you until you realise you are definitely receiving your money’s worth.

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Once the night starts to reach this point, there is a further room that you can move to (away from the main room and bar) that includes a more comfortable seating area, befitting for relaxing with your cocktail.

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A selection of wine, ‘Mysterious Yam Sing’ shots & ‘Devil Doctors’ at Opium

Whilst serving many “oriental” themed cocktails (£11-£15), unique to Opium, they also serve the classics (starting at £10.50). I would recommend The Devil Doctor (£13.50) if you’re feeling adventurous and fancy your chances with absinthe!

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The Devil Doctor

Take a peak at the website www.opiumchinatown.com

If you want to visit: 16 Gerrard St, London W1D 6JE (look out for the hidden door, a friendly bouncer should be there to greet you)

Every time I’ve ventured to Chinatown, I’ve ended up succumbing to the alluring atmosphere, where sometimes you actually feel like you’re in your own little world, full of low-lit hidden bars and cheap & appetising restaurants that stay open very late. If you’re wondering what to do on a Friday or Saturday, I would recommend heading over to Chinatown for early evening drinks, working up an appetite and then gorging on mouthwatering oriental cuisine. Chinatown is undeniably more worth a visit on a bustling weekend, rather than a quiet week-day night. If you’re on a budget, then on top of the cocktail bars such as Opium or Experimental Cocktail Club, there are also many pub’s (such as O’Neil’s) that can get incredibly lively.

Old Town 97

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As you may have guessed from my previous description of an ideal night in Chinatown, I have usually headed for food (bar a few occasions) in the very late hours of the evening after finishing off a few cocktails first. Old Town 97 is one restaurant that does stay open very late (opening hours are 10am-4am) The menu at Old Town 97 is extensive, you may find yourself debating over dishes for a very long time if you’re a Chinese food fanatic like myself. However, if you’re heading here with one other person I would highly recommend Set Menu B (£16.80 for 2 people) that includes dishes such as peking duck, crispy shredded beef, gyoza, stir fried chicken, stir fried pak choi and egg fried rice. I used to be incredibly apprehensive when it came to set menu’s, however this food has left me incredibly tempted to ask for a doggy bag to take home every time – it’s just delicious.

The full menu can be seen here on Zomato

If you are a wine lover and this habitually determines which restaurant you choose I wouldn’t hold your hopes up in that department as the choice is slightly limited, not a Sauvignon Blanc or Malbec in sight. However, if you’re happy to settle for the house wine then this won’t be a problem.

I headed here for a casual and fun evening after a day of traipsing around London with my parents when they came to visit. The service has always been friendly and fast. However, my Dad sparked up a conversation with a member of staff and he received some slightly special treatment. The friendly waiter offered to make up a Sambal for our main course, on the house. For anyone who is unfamiliar with Sambal, it’s an Indonesian sauce that traditionally includes ingredients such as; chilli peppers, shrimp paste, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, sugar, lime and vinegar, amongst others. Beware, it’s usually incredibly spicy. The Sambal that was prepared for us was to die for, especially if you’re a lover of flavour. All in all, Old Town 97 has consistently provided me with one of the tastiest and most generous Chinese meals I have eaten, trust me I’ve eaten some bad ones (slimy chicken, greasy spring rolls and over-battered beef are not to be found in Old Town 97).

If you want to visit: 19 Wardour Street, Chinatown, London, W1D 6PN

 

If you live in or near London and you have never been to a speakeasy, you are well and truly missing out! Low lighting, delectable cocktails and early 1900’s decor make speakeasy’s like nothing else you could imagine. They’re often bustling, with many establishments taking reservations beforehand so it’s useful to check out if your speakeasy is by appointment only.

Here are three speakeasy’s in West London that you MUST check out.

Cahoots

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The Entrance

‘Cahoots’ in Kingly Court is not one that needs a reservation, however on a busy Friday or Saturday night it may be wise, if you don’t want to queue. You will be transported into a 1940’s tube station built in an abandoned air raid shelter from World War II. Cahoots greets you with a uniformed train guard and a vintage style ticket booth.

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All of the female staff are also dressed in character, red lipstick and hair rollers galore! To make the experience as authentic as possible, the seat’s have been recreated using real fabric from the London Underground.

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There is complimentary popcorn upon arrival and you will find yourself constantly looking around the room at the interior design and vintage style posters covering the walls, it is exactly how you would expect a 1940’s & 50’s tube station to appear. You may find your drink being served to you in an ‘old-school’ style glass milk bottle, a “rations” tin or a china tea cup. Most of the cocktails on the extensive cocktail menu range between £8-£10, which many would agree is a good price for a speakeasy in Soho.

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However, for the more discerning customers there are cocktails ranging between £11-£25. Cahoots bar menu offers ‘ration style’ light bites and bar snacks that echo 1940’s cuisine, ‘with a twist.’ Cahoots is a lively and loud atmosphere on a Friday or Saturday night, perfect with a group of friends.

If you want to visit: 13 Kingly St, London W1B 5PG

Take a peak at the website: http://cahoots-london.com

Evans and Peel Detective Agency

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Photo courtesy of www.evansandpeel.com

Probably one of the most fun and quirky procedures you will encounter in order to access a speakeasy in London. Away from the hustle and bustle of Soho, Evans and Peel is hidden amongst residential streets, just off of Earl’s Court Road.

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The entrance

If you’re looking to confuse and bewilder your friends then book this on your own and take them here by disguising it with another name so they can’t research it beforehand. You must book an appointment before arrival by calling this number 020 7373 3573 or on the website, www.evansandpeel.com. You will be asked to leave your name and “state a case,” in which you will have to make up a fake case such as your dog being stolen or a friend being kidnapped.

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The entrance and exterior of the building is quite easy to miss so make sure you have your maps to hand! Upon finding Evans & Peel you will ring the bell and be buzzed in, you will then be greeted by an actor posing as a “detective,” his outfit is fully reminiscent of the speakeasy era. The detective will ask you to state your case, followed further by some questions upon you will have to play along (you can have a lot of fun here!). Then finally, you will be allowed in via a secret bookcase.

Once inside you can order food and drink. “Sliders” range from £5-£8, they are more on the side of snacking food and smaller than most would expect, so if you’re heading here for a more substantial fill, be prepared to order about 6, which they do for £25. The food is an eclectic mix of mini versions of burgers, pulled pork buns and cheese based dishes amongst other things.

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The cocktail menu is less extensive that Cahoots and the cocktails range from £10-£11. We felt slightly rushed to finish by the staff due to it being such a busy attraction with reservations obviously being in demand, however it is definitely worth a visit.

If you want to visit: 310c Earls Ct Rd, London SW5 9BA

Take a peak at the website: www.evansandpeel.com

The Vault (Milroy’s of Soho)

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Behind the bookcase – The Vault

This is one for the whisky lovers! The Vault is an underground speakeasy hidden gem concealed by a bookcase (much like Evans and Peel). You may be more familiar with Milroy’s of Soho, London’s oldest whisky bar. However, if you enter Milroy’s (no reservation needed) and advance straight past the bar and towards the bookshelf at the back, give it a gentle push, walk down the stairs and you will find yourself in an intimate speakeasy. I found myself relaxing on the sofa with a cocktail, and I never wanted to leave.

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The staff were attentive, approaching us to take more orders once we had finished our drinks, meaning we didn’t even have to order at the bar or search for a member of staff – total relaxation. Cocktails range between £9.5-£11.5. Even though it is a whisky shop, there are still gin, vodka and rum based cocktails to tickle your tastebuds if whisky doesn’t take your fancy.

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Relaxing in The Vault

I have discovered from speakeasy bar hopping around London that many of the cocktails contain egg white, this is actually a tradition that dates back further than a century! Don’t be afraid to try, the egg white gives the cocktail a rich, creamy texture and can also provide a frothy topping. I would recommend “Apple of My Eye” if you’re an egg white virgin and looking for a new experience.

If you want to visit: 3 Greek St, London W1D 4NX

Take a peak at the website: http://thevaultsoho.co.uk

As 2016 is fast approaching, let’s take a look at ten exciting drinks events hitting London in the New Year..

For the wine lovers

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The Great New Zealand Wine Tiki Tour London (£20-£25) 18th Jan, 18:30, Royal Horticultural Halls, Elverton Street, London, SW1P 2QW

Purchase tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-great-new-zealand-wine-tiki-tour-london-tickets-19112523071?aff=ebrowse

A Wine Tour of Medieval London (£28-£33) 23rd Jan, 14:30 – 16:30, By the Church of St Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside, EC2V, 6AU, London

Purchase tickets here: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/a-wine-tour-of-medieval-london-tickets-19951093257?aff=ebrowse

French Wine Tasting (pre-booking now and £10 to be payed on site) 26th Jan, 19:30 – 22:30, 26-28 Moxon Steet, London, W1U 4EU

Purchase tickets here: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/french-wine-tasting-tickets-19624972822?aff=ebrowse

London Wine Week 2016 (£10) 23rd May – 29th May, 12:00 – 23:00, Devonshire Square, EC2M London

Purchase tickets here: https://billetto.co.uk/en/events/london-wine-week-2016

For the gin lovers

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Gin festival London 2016 (£16) 19th Feb, 18:30, Tobacco Dock, London, England, E1W 3HZ

Purchase tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/gin-festival-london-2016-tickets-19470332288?aff=ebrowse

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The Brewmasters: A Theatre of Beer – Act II (£0-£10) 16th Feb, 18:00, 21-25 St. John’s Hill, Clapham Junction, London, SWII 1TT

Purchase tickets here: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-brewmasters-a-theatre-of-beer-act-ii-clapham-london-2016-tickets-19798695431?aff=ebrowse

London Beer Week 2016 (£10) 22nd Feb – 28th Feb, 12:00 – 23:00
Purchase tickets here: http://www.designmynight.com/london/whats-on/festival/london-beer-week

City Beerfest 2016 (£12 per individual beer package) 6th July, 12:30 – 21:00, Guildhall Yard, EC2V 5AE. London

Purchase tickets here: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/city-beerfest-2016-tickets-19728639893?aff=ebrowse

Beer by the River 2016 (£12 or FREE if you sign up before May) 2nd & 3rd Sep, Morden Hall Park, Morden Hall Road, Morden, London, SM4 5JD

Purchase tickets here: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/beer-by-the-river-2016-advanced-booking-tickets-18468929064?aff=ebrowse

For the whisky lovers

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Whisky Live London (£15-£103) 18th & 19th March 2016, 17:00, City Road, London, EC1Y 2BQ.

Purchase tickets here: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/whisky-live-london-2016-tickets-19669080750?aff=ebrowse