This weekend I’m off to one of my favourite Summer events, Cocktails In The City: Summer Edition, and I’m excited!

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Photo provided by Cocktails In The City

On Friday 29th and Saturday 30th July 2016, 25 of top London bars will be pairing up with their favourite spirits to set up pop up bars in one of London’s largest private Georgian gardens – Bedford Square Gardens in Fitzrovia.

A two day celebration of London’s vibrant and eclectic drinking scene, Cocktails In The City will feature cocktail tastings, interactive demonstrations, games and entertainment – including crazy golf, escape rooms (an Alice In Wonderland themed one no less!) and cabaret performances.

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Image provided by Cocktails In The City

Throughout the event, hosts Bourne & Hollingsworth will be putting on a series of ‘Spirited Sermons’ – interactive spirit masterclasses hosted by ambassadors and master distillers, exploring topics including healthy drinking, the origins of rum and Mayan Balché.

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Photo provided by Cocktails In The City

Food will be available from Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen (who by the way, created one of my favourite cocktails ever at the press preview of CITC, which I’ll tell you about in a moment) and there will be plenty of street food vendors as well.

Anyway, that’s enough blurb – just get yourself a ticket here for £15 (including one cocktail token – subsequent tokens available for £7.50) and come drink irresponsibly in the sunshine (hopefully, this is London after all!).

I was lucky enough to be invited along to the press preview event at Big Chill House in Kings Cross a couple of weeks ago – it was great fun, a cocktail shake off on a sunny rooftop!

Here I have for you my highlights of the night, and the recipes for them – so if you can’t make it to Cocktails In The City you can give them a go at home!

We Are Big Chill & Santa Teresa Rum – Watermelon Mojito

I love love love fizzy watermelon sweets, and We Are Big Chill gave me a whole watermelon full of them. Even without the candy bribe, their Watermelon Mojito was one of my favourites!

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50ml Santa Teresa

50ml Muddled Watermelon

25ml Watermelon Syrup

15ml Lime Juice

Top with Mint

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Add Lime Juice, Muddled Watermelon, Watermelon Syrup and Mint into a high ball, top the glass with crushed ice and add Santa Teresa. Churn the cocktail, top up with crushed ice and garnish with mint sprig and a skewer with 2 watermelon sweets.

Looking Glass Cocktail Club & Aviation Gin – Microlight

This is a low sugar martini style cocktail, which Looking Glass served in a small bottle to take away! A classic tasting gin cocktail – strong yet fresh, with subtle spice and floral notes, this was one of the only cocktails presented which wasn’t specifically Summery. But it was just so good.

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35ml Aviation gin

15ml Reina Lab. Mastrostefano vermouth (no added sugar)

5ml Reina Lab. Tonic syrup

5ml Reina Lab. Campi Elisi creme de aquavit

2 dash Reina Lab. Ada’s Lavender bitters

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Photo provided by Cocktails In The City

Loves Company & Reyka Vodka – Walk on the Wild Side

They definitely put the effort in with the presentation on this one…

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Reyka Vodka

Lemon

Soda

Herb Syrup of your choice (thyme/rosemary or basil)

Choice of berries

Edible soil made of Reyka Vodka infused with Black Forest Gateau

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Photo provided by Cocktails In The City

Shake all ingredients and pour into a plant pot. Garnish with edible soy made of Reyka Vodka infused with black forest gateau.

First Aid Box & Chambord – Chocolate Brioche French Martini

This one was fun, served in a mini Chambord bottle with a side of brioche! Not sure how you infuse the Chambord with brioche in the first place, so you just leave it the cake in the bottle for a bit maybe?

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25ml Brioche- infused Chambord

25ml gin or vodka

20ml lemon juice

50ml pineapple juice

2 dashes cherry bitters

Oh, and I had to show you their mixologists suit!

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Fifteen & Langley’s Gin – Strawberries and cream

Remember I told you this was my favourite? Of course it would be, because it is the most ridiculously awkward thing to make! But if you have a party coming up and two days spare, here’s how to make 20 servings…

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Day 1

2x Punnets of good quality Strawberries

1x Handful of tarragon

15x Coriander seeds

20x Pink Peppercorns

250ml Lemon Juice

250g Granulated Sugar

2x Lemon Peels

250ml Green Tea

750ml Coconut Water

700ml Langley’s Gin

650ml Dolin Dry Vermouth

Add all the ingredients which are not liquid based in a large container with hot green tea, muddling the strawberries and stirring until sugar dissolves, forming a syrup. This will be your base. Add rest of the ingredients, cover the top and leave refrigerated over night. This is Batch#1.

Day 2

1000ml Whole Milk

130ml Lemon Juice

Heat the milk in a large pan until boiling point, pour in lemon juice and take off heat and leave for 15mins or until you can see the milk split. It’s going to look like a baby just threw up everywhere. Normal. This is Batch#2.

Get another large container with a large sieve or shinao and a cheese cloth or a J cloth over it. Gently poor Batch#2 through it first, then Batch#1, filtering it. This will take sometime – the filtering process is just a waiting
game but be sure not to push anything through. You can then bottle it up and keep it cold.
If anyone actually gives this one a go, please let me know!
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Photo provided by Cocktails In The City

For more cocktail recipes, have a look here.

If you’re interested in reading a bit more about Cocktails In The City events, take a look at my post from earlier this year.

L xx

All photos my own unless stated otherwise.

If anything is going to have me up for a 10am start on a Sunday, it’s the promise of bottomless bubbles! So this morning I dragged my lazy self out of bed for the Rock’N’Roll Brunch, which Hard Rock Cafe London kindly invited me to for a review.

Let’s face it, a bottomless rock’n’roll brunch has everything I love – breakfast food, alcohol and live music. It couldn’t really go wrong, right?

The Drinks

Our table had a little tray full of garnishes to build your own Bloody Marys, which was great fun! Although, I have to admit, the Mimosas were my preferred drink. And they certainly were bottomless! Our waitress was fantastic, there wasn’t a moment for the entire two hour brunch that we had an empty glass – she was even bringing a couple each at a time!

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Tea, coffee, orange juice and water were also on offer.

The Food

There isn’t really much more I can say about the drinks, so onto the food. It was a three course brunch – the food wasn’t unlimited by the way, the ‘bottomless’ refers to the drinks, as I’ve found it generally does for brunch.

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We started with bagels and stacks of American pancakes – with a selection of toppings (whipped butter, maple syrup, warm strawberry compote and smoked salmon cream cheese with pickles). I’ll be honest, by the time I’d finished these I was already pretty full!

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The second course was my favourite – baked eggs with red peppers, spinach and feta, topped with grilled courgette and parmesan. Which was weird as I was sceptical at first, it was a bit like a Spanish omelette, and I’m not really an omelette fan.

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The final course, the one everyone was looking forward to, was your classic American brunch platter – Southern fried chicken and waffles, streaky bacon, huge chipolata sausages, diced potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, cowboy beans and grilled tomatoes.

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The Music

Entertainment was in the form of a live acoustic band performing covers of popular rock and blues songs (and everything else inbetween!)- with everything from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Outkast. The band, led by AJ Moore and Jonathan Tingall, played three 15 minute sets to go with each course, and they were great!

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If they’d simply played the whole time, it would have perhaps stifled conversation as it was so loud, but the sets were well timed for when everyone had their mouths full, so it worked really well!

The Venue

It was a nice set up. We were seated by the window, with a view of the park, which was lovely since it was a sunny day. It messed up my photos though! (But let’s face it, I’m hardly a skilled photographer, haha!).

As a music fan, I do love the interiors of Hard Rock Cafe – there’s always interesting stuff to look at, and I love the laid back yet cool atmosphere.

Did you know that Hard Rock Cafe London was actually the first Hard Rock Cafe to be opened? It’s funny how many tourists we saw having their photo taken with the sign – and that must be why!

I am a fan of the Hard Rock brand – whenever a Hard Rock Hotel is an option I always stay there (the HRH Tower suites in their Las Vegas hotel are my favourite rooms, but that’s for another post sometime…) and I’m one of those people who tend to visit a Hard Rock Cafe in the cities I travel to (did you know that each Hard Rock Cafe has it’s own special burger, created to reflect local tastes?).

Enough, Hard Rock propaganda – I promise I’m not paid to say all this, haha! But I do get involved in a few things with Hard Rock Cafe London (remember the Grease Pop Picturehouse event?). I have a couple of events there coming up soon actually – Pop Picturehouse have some cool movies planned, and Yelp are holding a Beer Pong Bash in Hard Rocks Back Room Bar which should be super fun!

I’d definitely recommend the Rock’N’Roll Brunch for a casual Sunday breakfast – it runs every Sunday in April and you can get tickets from Design My Night here for £29.95 (not bad for a bottomless brunch in Mayfair!).

L xx

All photos my own unless otherwise stated.

Psst… If you want to see someone elses take on the brunch (and some much better photography!) Lauren from Saharasplash wrote about it here.

This weekend I attended my first Gin Festival – I was so happy to be their guest blogger as the event sold out pretty quickly! Held across three days at Tobacco Dock, this was the London edition of the touring festival, which started in 2012 as the brainchild of husband and wife team Jym and Marie Harris.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect from Gin Festival, as it isn’t entirely clear from the website, but I like gin (obviously!) so I was excited to give it a whirl! And I was very happy I did, because it was a very enjoyable, sociable and good value evening. It won’t be any surprise to readers of this blog that accompanying me was Luisa of Eat Sleep Luisa Repeat.

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Pro tip: Get there early! The queue was long. But it wasn’t all bad, gin drinkers are my kind of people so I made friends in the queue! In fact, it was easy to make friends all over the event. And you will want to get there at the beginning of your session, as you’ll want plenty of time once you’re inside!

On entry, you receive a lovely little badge indicating which session you’re attending (so you can come and go as you please), a great big Gin Festival glass, ‘The Gin Book’ guide to the event (which is now my gin ‘to do list’!), an event map, an order form should you wish to purchase any gins you’ve sampled and a Gin Festival pen. I was pretty pleased with my loot before I’d even tried any gin!

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Also at the ‘Welcome & Information’ room you can leave your coat in the cloakroom, have a photo taken with silly props, find out Masterclass timings and, most importantly, buy your drinks tokens!

So, how much does it cost?

Standard entry tickets for the London festival were priced at £10 and included entry only. Pricing apparantly varies based on location so check the website to find the cost of your nearest one.

Drinks tokens were priced at £5 each and sold in sets of four. One token could be redeemed for a 25ml measure of gin in The Gin Bar, or two tokens could be redeemed for a (rather large) cocktail in The Cocktail Bar.

The Brands

If taking the natural route around the festival, the first room you come to (and, in my opinion, the best!) showcases ‘The Brands’. Eleven brands were on hand to tell you about their gins, how best to serve them and give you a little taster. I didn’t anticipate having the opportunity to have proper conversations with the distillers, or to receive quite so many samples, or how generous those samples would be!

I found the mixture of brands really interesting, ranging from those even non-gin aficionados would know of, such as Sipsmith and Pinkster, to some more unusual ones including one of my favourite new discoveries, Whitley Neill. Here are my pick of my five favourites from the brand room;

Sipsmith

As a gin drinker, obviously I’m a fan of Sipsmith! One of my favourite little things about Sipsmith is Prudence. Prudence is a copper still built by Sipsmith when they launched in 2009. But what really makes her special is that she is the first copper still to be launched in London in nearly 200 years. Yep, TWO HUNDRED YEARS. Pretty impressive, right? You can read more about Prudence here.

I love a brand with personality, and Sipsmith have it in buckets. Everything on their stand was interesting, from the small batch sloe gin they were sampling, to the love it or hate it Marmite gin (seriously!). If you’re wondering, I loved the Marmite gin, haha!

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Another interesting thing I discovered from Sipsmith at Gin Festival was that they have A Sipsmith Sipping Service on IndieGoGo! I’m quite interested in gin subscription boxes at the moment, and will be posting a bit more about them soon.

Whitley Neill

Whitley Neill was a brand new discovery for me at Gin Festival, and I think it was my favourite. I loved everything about their stand. It was interesting without being cluttered, the lovely ladies were friendly and informative, and the gin itself was delicious, and a little bit different.

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Handcrafted in the UK by Johnny Neill (the eighth generation in a family of distillers!), but inspired by Africa, Whitley Neill gin uses rare African botanicals. It’s very smooth, with flavours of herbs, cocoa and candied lemon peel. It’s the most unique gin I’ve tried.

Masons

As well as the love it or hate it Sipsmith Marmite gin, other brands had specials they’d brought to Gin Festival. One of my favourites was Masons Gin Yorkshire Tea Edition, which you can purchase from the Gin Festival site for £40. I mean, what’s more British than a tea flavoured gin?

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Masons are a gin I was aware of, but hadn’t previously tried. Their Dry Yorkshire Gin is a small batch (distilled in 200 litre batches) craft gin, traditionally distilled with Harrogate Spring Water, juniper (from their own juniper bushes!), citrus elements and secret botanicals. Each bottle bears its own bottle and batch number. Cute!

Adnams 

At Gin Festival, Adnams had a few gins to try. I’ve previously enjoyed drinking their First Rate Gin, but this was the first time I’ve sampled their Copper House Gin. After looking at the ingredients, it’s no surprise I liked it – it features hibiscus flower, which is a bit of an unusual one. Other ingredients include juniper berries, orris root, coriander seed, cardamom pod and sweet orange peel. It’s quite an unusual, rich, complex tasting gin. I think I’ll be buying a bottle.

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I also got to try Copper House Gin in one of the cocktails Luisa had, the ‘Drunken Tulip’. It was good!

Portobello Road

Portobello Road Gin has been on my to try list for a while, so I was really happy to see them at Gin Festival. I’ve avoided purchasing it in the past as I was aware it contained liquorice root, which is not a flavour I usually enjoy. But the liquorice wasn’t at all strong tasting in the gin, and I actually really liked it! Other flavours include juniper, orris root, coriander seed, angelica root, lemon peel, orange peel, cassia bark and nutmeg.

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I had a nice chat with the guy behind the stand, who told me about ‘The Ginstitute’. The Ginstitute is a little museum of gin – where visitors can sample the spirits as well as learn about the history of gin. It’s located, unsurprisingly, on Portobello Road in West London.

Fun fact: The Ginstitute is London’s second smallest museum!

The Cocktail Bar

Another favourite room of mine was ‘The Cocktail Bar’. A choice of six gin based (obviously!) cocktails, each redeemable for two tokens. There were also mocktails, which I didn’t try, because, well, gin…

Another pro tip: If you get the chance try the Rhubarb Rumble (Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb and Ginger Liqueur, Advocaat, apple juice, lemon juice and rhubarb bitters) – it tastes just like rhubarb and custard sweets. I liked it so much I went back for a second!

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The Edinburgh Rhubarb and Ginger is definitely on my must buy list, at only £17, and it is DELICIOUS!

The Gin Bar

On the other side of the event space was the main area, where you’d find ‘The Gin’. It’s basically a big bar, divided into four – two bars for UK gins, one for international gins and one for fruit gin liqueurs and other novelties. You can redeem your drinks tokens here for a 25ml serving of gin, and there are bottles of various Fever-Tree mixers that you can free pour yourself.

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It was a really nice set up – attendees could mingle over shared tables, making for a lovely, sociable atmosphere, and the live music was great in the background. With over 100 gins on offer, I was surprised how organised it was!

Masterclasses

If you had time between all that gin drinking, there were several masterclasses on offer – I went to the Pinkster one, where their representative spoke about the brand, their products and how best to drink them, and we were given plenty of tasters! Although my personal preference is to be out and about chatting to other attendees, it was nice to have a little break and sit down from the crowd, while learning something about a brand I like.

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I may as well take this opportunity to tell you a bit about Pinkster (otherwise I’d have mentioned them as a favourite above!). Pinkster Gin is a pink, small batch dry gin made up of five botanicals, with a hint of raspberry (they hand steep locally grown raspberries in their triple distilled gin).

I’ve actually been a drinker of Pinkster for a while, having discovered the brand at a food fair quite some time ago. And I was really excited to see they now sell Boozy Berries (the raspberries left over from producing their gin).

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The Off-Licence

Gin Festival also had its own on-site off-licence (with free home delivery!), where you could buy the gins you’d tried and liked.gin5

I’d recommend taking a look at the shop section of the Gin Festival site actually, as they have loads of gems on there!

They also had a selection of gifts (I liked the ‘Gin Festival In A Box’ idea – which includes my top pick Whitley Neill).

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Gin Explorer

As well as being able to take your pick from the gins on offer at the off-licence, you could also sign up to Gin Explorer with a special Gin Festival discount.

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Gin Explorer is a new monthly subscription box, which includes a selection of 50ml gins. I can’t wait for my first box to arrive!

Anything else?

There were also artists painting on canvas, live music and a selfie booth (with an Instagram competition!).

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On the lower level you could find street food stands (pretty necessary considering the amount of alcohol on offer!) from a new Tobacco Dock street food project – varying from hearty pies to healthy salads.

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I went for the very moreish halloumi chips with salt, pomegranate, baby spinach and smoked paprika yogurt, which were £5 from Buttermilk.

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And later I had lovely, fresh mixed salad from Vitality Shack, which was £8 for a pint tub.

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Overall, I had a fantastic evening at Gin Festival, and it really exceeded my expectations. I had expected it to be just one big gin bar really, but they put on a nicely varied event – it managed to be nice and intimate with a focus on the gin, without it being one dimensional or boring.

I would recommend snapping up a ticket if they’re coming your way, as they seem to sell out pretty sharpish!

L xx

All photos my own.

The original (shorter!) version of this post can be found here on the Gin Festival website, as I was their guest blogger for the event.

Basically, this week I ate a lot of food…

Pancake Day

So I celebrated Shrove Tuesday twice. Technically three times if you count London Mardi Gras last week.

On the actual day I had half price pancakes from Giraffe in Notting Hill. £3.48 for pancakes stacked with maple syrup, blueberry compote and banana. Bargain. I’m a sweet pancake person.

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And I couldn’t resist a second round when I was in The Diner in Shoreditch on Wednesday. The Diner do amazing Red Velvet Pancakes all year round (and Sweet Potato Pancakes with or without bacon, which I’ve never tried), but they were slightly cheaper this week and there were three specials; Reese’s Pieces, Spiced Apple and Oreo Cookie. All priced at £7.50.

I was tempted by the Spiced Apple, but when I read the description of the Oreo Cookie (three Oreo pancakes, marshmallow fluff cream, broken Oreos and icing sugar) I had to go with them. Marshmallow gets me every time.

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Elite Night at Bubbleology with Yelp

You might have noticed I’ve become quite involved with Yelp lately. No doubt I’ll tell you about that a bit more in the not too distant future, but to summarise, as well as being a pretty damn good review site, Yelp have an awesome community and host regular events, most with a few perks.

Tuesday night they hosted a night at Bubbleology in Notting Hill for their new Elite members (Elite members are selected based on their contribution to the site and community, you can read more here) as a little welcome. We were treated to copious amounts of bubble tea (I have strong feelings for bubble tea), macaroons, cookie straws and popcorn. It was a good night.

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Cocktails In The City Preview

On Wednesday I was over the moon to have been invited to the preview of next months Cocktails In The City event in the swanky Apartment at The Hoxton Hotel in Shoreditch. Alcohol companies teamed up with high profile London bars to showcase their products and some of the cocktails they’ll be serving at the main event.

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You can read all about the preview here.

Blindfold Date

After a few cocktails at Cocktails In The City, we headed down to Concrete in Shoreditch for a bit of entertainment in the form of Blindfold Date (you may recall me mentioning the event in my Anti-Valentines post).

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It was a good evening, a bit different to what I usually get up to! It wasn’t really a dating event, although a tombola was used to select contestants from the audience, more for entertainment really. It was fun!

Slipknot at Genting Arena, Birmingham

I couldn’t make the London date, so on Friday I went all the way up to Genting Arena in Birmingham for Slipknot. It was a good choice, because I was basically side stage with an amazing view!

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You’ll know by now how much love I have for this band, and they were so good! They were supported by Sikth and Suicidal Tendencies, the latter who I’m a big fan of. And I had the chance to catch up with a couple of good friends I hadn’t seen in a while too.

Valentines Star Wars Tattoos

It was a quiet Saturday, I just met up with my friend Kat to get some cute Star Wars tattoos from Haunted in Holloway. It was my first time getting tattooed by the studio owner, Allan Graves – he was great and I spontaneously booked in with him to start a True Romance thigh piece in a couple of months!

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Anyway, this time he tattooed a heart shaped Death Star and heart shaped Darth Vader helmet on my thigh. I love them! Kat had a heart shaped R2D2 on one foot and a heart shaped C3PO on the other.

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After, we met up with Luisa of Eat Sleep Luisa Repeat and had a bite to eat at Pump in Shoreditch. There will be a post on Pump coming soon!

L xx

All photos my own.

 

 

Remember ABQ London? The Breaking Bad inspired bar that was around for a few months in 2015, operating from a RV in Hackney? If your mind needs refreshing you can check out my original post on ABQ here.

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Since the original ABQ shut its doors in October, ABQ have revamped their RV and reinvented the ABQ experience. They have a new home in Shoreditch, and it looks like they’re working on making it a permanent thing.

On Wednesday night I was lucky enough to have the chance to experience the new ABQ before they opened the doors to the public.

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So what’s new?

The RV is a bit plusher, a bit better laid out, and it looks as though it has a slightly larger capacity than before. I couldn’t really get any detailed pics, but they had some cool details, like a timeline of the shows events across the seat pads on the bench. (Edited to add: I’m informed it’s actually a timeline of Walter White’s shirts, interesting…)

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Most significantly, this time ABQ is BYOB.

Instead of making one of two set molecular cocktails (and trying a second), this time guests bring their own booze and get to make their choice of 2-3 cocktails from a much bigger list. You can preview the cocktail options on the ABQ site, along with the recommended spirit for each one so you can plan what to bring. They recommend 35cl of alcohol brought per person, and it has to be in a sealed bottle.

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One of the cocktails on offer is quite exciting – ABQ are introducing Londons first flavour changing cocktail. More about that in a minute.

The Drinks

There are five cocktail recipes, and you’re expected to be able to make 2-3 of these during your two hour session. You get partnered up, and between you you make the drinks from scratch – unlike last time when, in groups of four, you operate a production line like system with each person having a particular step.

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My partner, Georgia, and I had vodka, so we were limited to vodka based drinks (I did wish I’d brought whisky!). We started with ‘Fly’.

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Image from www.abq.london

To make Fly, we used a cream whipper to mix up the vodka, flat Citric H2O (yes I know H2O is water, just play along), lime, ‘caviar’ made from cola and some ‘mystery ingredients’.

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It resulted in a drink which reminded me of frog spawn.

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Our second drink was ‘Tripping’. I’m pretty sure everyone who visits ABQ will go for Tripping, it is their most talked about drink, and I definitely recommend it!

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Image from www.abq.london

To make Tripping, we shook up vodka, flat Citric H2O and ice, and topped it with Carbonated H2O. But the main part of this drink was the pink tablet that you let dissolve on your tongue, which is what changed the flavour.

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After the tablet dissolved, I bit into a lemon slice, and I swear this was the tastiest fruit I’ve ever eaten! The colour changing tablet made the lime sweet, and when I tried the (previously bitter) drink I’d just made, it also was sweet. A super fun idea!

We didn’t have time to make one of the smoking cocktails, but look how cool these ones (called 505) looked (cooked up by Luisa of Eat Sleep Luisa Repeat)…

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So, what did I think?

I really enjoyed ABQ both times I visited, but I think more so this time around. Working in pairs makes the whole experience a bit more fun, and it’d make a great date, while the intimate seating arrangements mean it still works for a larger group.

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I’m not keen on the BYOB aspect, but I suspect it may have something to do with licensing. It does make the ticket cost cheaper (£25 for two hours rather than the original £31.60), although overall this doesn’t make the experience more economical. Unless you want mocktails, each guest has to bring their own bottle of their choice spirit. And if you’re anything like me you’ll be drawn to two drinks suited to two different spirits. Meaning you’ll want to bring two bottles of booze. And that all adds up.

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After your time is up you can buy additional cocktails made up by the bartender at £8 each. But again, they need to use the alcohol you provided, so I think the price is too high. Last time additional cocktails at ABQ were £8.50, which included the alcohol.

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Overall I like the concept and it’s a really fun experience but I think it needs a small price drop (although as a one off novelty experience it isn’t bad), and some fine tuning. My partner and I could easily have made three drinks in our time slot, but the time it took for the staff to bring the supplies to us meant we only had time for two – there was a lot of waiting around. It is worth noting though that I was there on the very first night with no previous trials, so I imagine it’ll run a lot smoother going forward.

If you want to visit ABQ, it opens on February 4th. You can book here (scroll down!) for £25 per person, and they’re currently taking bookings until the end of April.

If you’re interested in a more detailed description of how ABQ has developed, check out this mega informative post by Luisa, as she’s been three times now!

L xx

All photos my own unless stated otherwise.

Yes, I know, I skipped a week! But it’s been a bit of a busy fortnight so I’ve been a bit slack on my blogging – I’ve had my birthday, a trip to Paris, Christmas… But the main reason I’ve been a bit quiet is that I’ve focused on a few job interviews I’ve had (and yes, they went well!). So here are a few things I got up to over the last fortnight…

Le Bun Brunch at The Zetter

To be honest, it’s a small miracle that I haven’t yet posted about Le Bun since, in my humble opinion, they’re the most exciting thing on the London food scene (okay, I may have given them a little mention in my post about National Burger Day, but trust me, they deserve a post all of their own!).

I make a point of visiting Le Bun at their every venture, and I was extra specially excited to visit their residency at The Zetter in Clerkenwell for brunch, to try their Bloody Mary with cheeseburger garnish after I saw pictures of it on social media. So on Sunday 13th myself and a date went for an early brunch (followed by some drinks at the new Brewdog nearby). It did not disappoint.

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I ate so much – after starting with the Bloody Mary, I had their delicious Truffles & Waffles (I’ve eaten a mini version of this before, it’s one of my favourite street food dishes – so I couldn’t resist a full sized version!). I also ‘shared’ (by shared I mean I ordered it ‘to share’ but ate it myself) an avocado benedict.

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If you get a chance to try Le Bun do it! They currently have a burger van at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park until January 4th.

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes and The Bronx at Brooklyn Bowl

This is actually the first gig I’ve been to at Brooklyn Bowl (inside the O2 in Greenwich) and it’s now one of my favourite venues! We had a meal in their diner pre-gig, which was a bit of a waste of time as they also catered the VIP area for the show, so I really had my fill of their (delicious) French bread pizza.

Anyway, it was a really great evening – I’m a big fan of Frank Carter and his various ventures (except Pure Love, they really weren’t my thing) and this was my first time seeing him with The Rattlesnakes.

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And The Bronx are one of my favourite live acts. It was also great to catch up with a couple of old friends.

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Winter Wonderland

Every year I visit Winter Wonderland on the Friday afternoon before Christmas, it’s been a tradition for as long as I can remember.

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I was actually really pleased to see that Winter Wonderland was a little less commercial than the past couple of years – it started to get a lot of stands for larger brands to just give out non Christmassy samples and promotions. This year it seemed to have a bit more of a German Christmas market feel again, although there were still a lot of fairground rides.

Look how pretty Hyde Park looks…

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The Bavarian Village is predictably my favourite bit – I’m not sure why there was a giant with a bird there this year? Given my heritage, if it’s a Bavarian thing I really should know, so if anyone can enlighten me…?

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I actually popped back to Winter Wonderland on the Saturday too, with Luisa (Eat Sleep Luisa Repeat) where she purchased (without me knowing at the time) some beautiful red rose lights for my Christmas gift. We ate pretzels and drank cider before heading back to hers to exchange gifts with the other (non-blogger) member of our friendship trio, Georgia.

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Yelp’s Festive Afternoon Tea at Ma’ Plucker

Before meeting Luisa to go to Winter Wonderland on Saturday 19th, I went along to Ma’Plucker in Soho to have a festive afternoon tea with the guys from Yelp. I’ve really got into Yelping lately – it’s so much more than just a review site. I strongly recommend checking out their events, as they have some really cool stuff on – like this afternoon tea, which was complimentary.

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I had such a great time and will be giving a full review shortly, but you can have a little preview on the Yelp site if you’re interested! If you’re on Yelp, or want to join, feel free to add me as a friend – you can find my profile here.

The Glam Clam

It was a busy Saturday! In the evening I was fortunate to have been a guest of Design My Night for an evening at The Glam Clam – a pop up jazz club and drag cabaret in Tufnell Park, with a dinner menu by Gizzi Erskine. It was pretty special and you can read more about it here.glamclam

Birthday Lunch at BoxPark

Sunday 20th December was my 28th birthday. As it’s so close to Christmas I never do anything for my birthday – this year I just had a quiet lunch at BoxPark in Shoreditch. We had a couple of vegetarians/vegans with us, so the layout of BoxPark made it really easy to keep everyone happy!

I had a festive pizza from Voodoo Rays,  with pigs in blankets on!

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Paris

Obviously, I’ll post about my three day mini holiday to Paris seperately, but for now just know I went, okay!

How awesome is this Disney toy tree at St Pancras…?

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Christmas

Christmas is a tricky time of year for me, as I have pretty much no family, and this year I’m single at Christmas. But, for the second year in a row, I volunteered on Christmas Day for the Rotary Club, serving Christmas dinner to the elderly at Battersea Evolution.

You won’t see any haul posts from me – I don’t really have anyone to give me gifts, although, as I mentioned above, myself, Luisa and Georgia did exchange them this year. It’s cool though, believe it or not I’m not a very materialistic person, and I find volunteering at Christmas really rewarding.

So that’s my life lately, sorry it was such a long post, but it was a fortnights worth! I’m sorry I haven’t updated the blog much recently – I mentioned earlier that I had a couple of job interviews. Well, I was successful in both, and have been offered a new opportunity by my current employer, so I’ve been focusing my thoughts on making the correct career choice. I think I’m finally almost at a decision!

I hope my readers have had a lovely festive period (yes, I know, it isn’t quite over yet!) and I will be making more of an effort to blog regularly for 2016, I promise! I already have some cool things lined up, including a January trip to San Diego so watch this space!

L xx

All photos my own.

It’s pretty obvious I like a drink by now, right? And since alcohol and coffee tend to go hand in hand (have to help that hangover somehow, haha!) it’d be an easy guess that I’m quite fond of a brew. So when Joe Blogs invited me along to a coffee afternoon with Currys and Nespresso, I jumped at the chance!

The Cocktails

Okay, so the whole event wasn’t entirely about cocktails but that was predictably my favourite bit of the afternoon, so it’s obviously my focus here!

We were taught to make two different cocktails, both using Nespresso pods. And luckily for me, featuring two of my favourite drinks – Johnnie Walker whisky and Kraken rum.

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First we made the whisky cocktail – Vanilla Sky – which ended up tasting a bit like Baileys. It was good, and predictably mine had an extra whisky kick, haha! To make this one you simply mix 50ml whisky (we used Black Label Johnnie Walker), 50ml vanilla gomme, 1 shot of espresso (we used Nespresso Dulsão do Brasil) and 100ml cream and pour into a cognac glass. Nice and easy to make at home.

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Next up was the rum cocktail – Kraken Coffee – a bit like a grown up peanut butter milkshake. You need a shaker and strainer for this one otherwise it’ll be a bit lumpy. Just fill the shaker with 50 ml rum (we used Kraken), 1 shot of espresso (we used Nespresso Dharkan), 20ml gomme syrup, 2 teaspoons of peanut butter and chocolate powder. Shake well and strain into a martini glass, and serve with chocolate powder on top. Don’t do what I did and put in extra peanut butter…

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Of course I wanted to stay at the bar for another round or two, but I resisted temptation!

The Company

Okay, so since this was an event with Nespresso, I should probably tell you a bit about them. As well as the cocktail station, there were three other stations for us to participate in. One of which was a chat and demonstration with one of their reps, and it was really nice to speak to someone who was so passionate about their product.

The Nespresso machines themselves are admittedly a bit of an investment (starting at £89 RRP for the Inissia model) and pricier than their competitors, but the coffee pods are well priced and long term they work out pretty reasonable. I’m not going to do the maths – too many variables, but if you drink a lot of coffee this is a good buy.

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One thing I was pleasantly surprised about was the company’s commitment to recycling, which you can read more about here. The coffee pods are made of aluminium (and have you seen how nice they look?) – not only is aluminium the best choice of material to protect the coffee from oxygen and sunlight, but it is also infinitely recyclable. By collecting and recycling the pods, Nespresso have been able to reduce their environmental impact – recycled aluminium produces only 5% of the carbon emissions compared with primary aluminium. The material is also lightweight, resulting in transport and associated environmental savings.

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Some of the Nespresso machine parts for certain models are even made from recycled pods! So if you want your coffee with a conscious, this is the one for you! Seriously though, if it is something you care about or are even a little bit interested in, take a look into their sustainability project ‘The Positive Cup’.

I’m going to be honest – before the event I had no desire for a coffee machine in my life. I just buy my coffee made for me at Starbucks usually. But now I kind of want one. It was a lot simpler, easier to clean up, and cheaper (long term at least) than I’d anticipated.

The Coffee

Obviously we sampled A LOT of coffee. Strong coffee isn’t really for me, I’m more of a mild, flavoured coffee or mocha drinker. But there is something for all tastes (unless you don’t like coffee at all, in which case you can make a killer shake or hot chocolate in the frother! Although really, if you don’t like coffee you probably aren’t reading this post…).nespresso

We had a tasting session, where we learnt about different flavours and aromas, and a little about tastebuds. I found this particularly interesting when we tried the five basic tastes as it seems my tongue doesn’t recognise umami (another word for savoury). This may explain my sweet tooth!

We also tried coffee alongside different chocolate buttons to see how the flavours complimented each other – and they actually did!

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Oh and we had a play around learning latte art. Which, quite predictably, I sucked at.

The Venue

I really liked the location for this event – The Fable in Holborn. I love the quirky interior, with shelves of books and bric-a-brac, fairytale quotes all over the place and arguably the best toilets I’ve come across in a London bar.

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Having sampled the food (we were provided with a little buffet of nibbles), I’ll definitely be going back to The Fable for dinner at some point! A notable mention goes to the chorizo Scotch egg which was AMAZING. I’m not much of a Scotch egg fan if I’m honest but the chorizo was a nice flavoursome addition and dunking chips in the gooey yolk was fab.

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I had a lovely afternoon and had the chance to meet some new bloggers (the highlight being finally meeting Haydy of Squibb Vicious!) so thanks for having me guys! If you’d like to have a read of the official blog post for the event take a look here.

L xx

All photos my own.