After a quiet few weeks (I’ve recently started an awesome new job and been recovering from a chest infection), things are starting to pick up again, and I’ve actually done some pretty cool stuff this week!

Le Boutique Bazaar

Le Boutique Bazaar is something I want to tell you about in more detail at some point soon, so for now I’m just going to say what it is and what I bought. Held at McQueen in Shoreditch, it’s an alternative fashion event, I believe run in conjunction with Torture Garden – think latex, corsets, bondagewear and accessories all with a festishy twist.

Usually things I want at Le Boutique Bazaar are out of my price range, but this time I picked up a couple of things.

Elissa Poppy does some gorgeous lace effect latex pieces, and I bought a really great value (£10!) wrist and ankle cuff set, which will be perfect for an event I’m going to in the next couple of weeks – The Goblin King’s Masquerade Ball.

elissapoppy

I also put down a deposit for a bespoke ring collar from Darkest Star. You can see it in the picture below with gold rings – mine will have silver.

darkeststar

Photo from www.darkeststar.com

At a discounted price of £112.50 it isn’t cheap. But it is really great quality and it’s so very me.

I also won a competition with Beautifully Undressed and got myself a lovely gift set from Tallulah Love with some lacy panties and an eye mask. I never win anything so I was over the moon!

Yelps Golden Ticket Charlie & The Chocolate Factory Event

You’ll have noticed by now that I do quite a lot with Yelp, and this event was one of my favourites so far – there were limited spaces and I was so lucky to get one!

hotelchoc

I’ll be telling you all about it in the next few days – we started with some chocolate making at Hotel Chocolat in Covent Garden and finished with the musical Charlie & The Chocolate Factory at Theatre Royal Drury Lane (remember the ghost stories? You can read about them here).

Secret Cinema – 28 Days Later

Another thing I want to tell you about in more detail – Secret Cinema, the 28 Days Later experience. It was SO GOOD. For now, have me and my friends Kat and Georgia in our scrubs and masks…

28days

Ginder

You know I love gin, right? I mean I even did the blogging for Gin Festival recently (see my post about it here). Oh, and a review of the Gin Explorer subscription box is coming soon. Anyway, I digress.

On Friday I received an invitation (through Yelp) to the Ginder experience at World of Gin in Bethnal Green. Running for this weekend only, World of Gin were hosting half hour gin tasting sessions to match you with your ideal gin and tonic combination. It was fun. And boozy. Check out their upcoming events on their website – I believe they have Cardiff and Birmingham coming up.

Psst… it’s only on writing this that I’ve realised that Ginder is a play on Tinder, it’s all about finding your perfect match. Clever.

ginder

So, that’s about it for this week. But I have another fun filled week coming up, so watch this space!

L xx

All photos my own unless stated otherwise.

Yep, I skipped a week again! I think we can safely say I now do these little life updates as and when rather than every Sunday, because life just gets in the way! But at least I have plenty to report back on…

Valentines Gift from Kraken

Who needs a man to buy you flowers when one of your favourite alcohol brands sends you a beautiful black rose which would outdo anything else you received anyway? Following on from their black Christmas trees (which you can read about here), for Valentines Kraken were sending black roses with Kraken miniatures to select people. And I was one of the lucky recipients.

kraken black roses

This year I was single on Valentines Day for the first time in nine years. And I was cool with it. I’m actually loving single life right now. But that’s not really something to talk about on this post.

blackrose

So thank you Kraken, it was much appreciated!

Valentines Extreme Garnishing with The Robin Collective at The Hoxton

You may remember Extreme Garnishing from my pick of alternative Valentines events? I love playing with my food so I was super excited to be invited by The Robin Collective along to the Valentines edition of their workshop, held at The Hoxton in Shoreditch, which I seem to be visiting quite a bit at the moment!

extreme garnishing

We learnt some cute garnishing tricks, played with liquid nitrogen, made a love potion and ate cider sorbet. It was awesome. There will be a post dedicated to the event coming soon.

XMen Screening at BFI with BGo and Joe Blogs

I love a good superhero movie, so a private screening of XMen at BFI in Soho with some of my favourite bloggers, including Luisa of Eat Sleep Luisa Repeat, Kariss of Shy, Strange, Manic and Haydy of Squibbvicious was a great way to spend a Wednesday night.

bgo

Thanks for a lovely evening Joe Blogs and BGo!

Bring Me The Horizon at Electric Brixton

One thing I love about my favourite band is the frequency with which they play small venues (although it’s a pain getting tickets!). This time they played a Brits Week show at Electric Brixton, a venue I’ve not been to before. Through choice I went up to the balcony, and had a perfect view – so rare for me at a gig!

bmthheart

As always, their performance was spot on.

AntiChrist at Electrowerkz

I had a couple of great nights out this fortnight with my favourite girls, Luisa and Georgia. Here are some drunk selfies of the three of us at AntiChrist at Electrowerkz in Angel. I loved my blue wig!

ac

Gin Festival at Tobacco Dock

If you’re a reader of this blog, or are on any of my social media, there’s no way you’ll have escaped the fact that I was the guest blogger for Gin Festival!

gin festival

You can read my full post here, or the official post on the Gin Festival website here.

London Beer Week

Another day, another alcohol event… Drink Up London kindly gave me a couple of wristbands and a few drinks tokens for London Beer Week so on the opening night I visited the London Beer Week Hub.

london beer week

Held at Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, the hub was a really nice little set up! More about London Beer Week soon.

Pasta Night with House of Godo and Yelp

You should know by now that I’m pretty involved in the Yelp community, and attend a fair few of their events. This one was a Newbie night, to welcome new Yelpers, and sample some delicious pasta dishes at a new Italian takeaway on Park Lane, House of Godo.

house of godo

The company was excellent as always (and the lovely Kariss was there, which is always a plus!) and the food really exceeded my expectations. I’m not a person who ever really orders pasta when out, so it was nice to give it a go! The lamb ragu and tiramisu were especially good.

Thanks again Yelp!

Love Food Hate Waste Meaty Issues Launch at Smiths of Smithfield

I was really spoilt when it came to food and drink this fortnight! One of my most anticipated events for a while was this lunchtime launch at Smiths of Smithfield for the Love Food Hate Waste Meaty Issues campaign.

lfhw

As well as finding out about the campaign, we were treated to a delicious lunch and a butchery demonstration. You can read all about the event here.

Kurious Kittens Hot Sake Party at Geisha

And finally, myself, Luisa and Georgia attended the Kurious Kittens Hot Sake Party at Geisha, the late night element of members only dining destination Ramusake in South Kensington. We wore masks, Japanese inspired outfits and watched latex clad dancers. I’ve had worse nights.

geisha

And yep, I’m wearing a wig again!

So that was my rather busy fortnight, I’m hoping this one coming will be a little quieter…

L xx

All photos my own.

A few people have asked where the wigs are from – I always get mine from Mad World at Charing Cross station.

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.

giraffe

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.

oreopancakes

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.

bubbleology

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.

cahoots2

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).

blindfold

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!

slipknotbrum

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!

allan

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.

darth

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.

 

 

It’s no secret I love a good cocktail, so I was delighted to be invited to the preview event for Cocktails In The City in the plush Apartment at The Hoxton Hotel in Shoreditch.

cahoots cocktails in the city

If you aren’t familiar with it, Cocktails In The City is a three day celebration of Londons internationally renowned bar scene which is held across two weekends in 2016 – 10th to 12th March and 29th to 31st July. The March event will be held at One Mayfair, a beautiful Grade 1 listed building, formerly St Marks Church (you can see some pics of the venue from when I was there for Bulmers Live Colourful Live last year).

Cocktails In The City will showcase twenty London bars across three floors, as well as a few from other European cities including Little Red Door from Paris, Door 74 from Amsterdam and Ruby from Copenhagen.

It’s designed to be an immersive experience – guests will be able to try drinks from top bartenders, many of which will feature some more unusual and rare ingredients. As well as the cocktails on offer, there will be tastings, interactive demonstrations and entertainment.

I love how they’re planning to layout the event. In the Crypt (and obviously I’m dying to visit the crypt!) you’ll find some of Londons hottest newly opened establishments for concept cocktails. The Grand Hall (where Live Colourful Live was held) will house world famous cocktail bars serving classic drinks as well as creative cocktail themed dining at the feasting table. The aforementioned international guest bars can be found on the mezzanine level, and at the rooftop bar (which apparently has a spectacular view) you can enjoy a barbecue.

At the preview we had the chance to try some of the concept cocktails and watch how they were made. It was great fun!cahoots cocktails in the city

Cahoots in Soho, a bar which I’m yet to visit (and which features on my bucket list) was obviously my first stop. They’d teamed up with Martin Miller’s Gin and Fentimans (a bit off topic but I love Fentimans soft drinks in cocktails after trying a few at their Greenhouse pop up bar in L’Escargot last year) to create The Mayfair Miller, a cocktail which also included lychee, elderflower and spiced berries.

This one was delicious, way too easy to drink! And it was beautifully presented.

cahoots cocktails in the city

Next up I tried The Rhubarb Radler from The Whip in Mayfair, a drink they’d created with Chase Rhubarb Vodka. As soon as I hear rhubarb I’m there, I love anything rhubarb!

the whip cocktails in the city

This was quite an interesting drink – it looked as though it would be citrus based rather than rhubarb. As well as lemon juice, sugar and bitters it included Wild Goose Chase pale gooseberry ale from The Wild Beer Co. I am desperate to try this ale by itself and will be hunting it down!

wild beer co

I’ve never been to The Whip, now it’s on my must go list!

chase vodka cocktails in the city

I went for another gin cocktail next, this time The Root Gimlet from Powder Keg Diplomacy in Wandsworth, using Plymouth Gin. This is another bar which wasn’t yet on my radar, but I’m told it’s Victorian themed and now I really want to go!

As well as Plymouth gin, The Root Gimlet contained lemon  juice and something a bit more unusual – carrot and horseradish cordial! Sounds disgusting, but tasted delicious!

powder keg diplomacy cocktails in the city

To round up the evening I visited the station where Sophie Bratt of OXO Tower on South Bank was creating a cocktail using Patron Tequila (mmm, Patron…). Sophie actually was a contestant in the Patron Perfectionists Cocktail Competition, so it was a natural partnership!

patron cocktails in the city

I loved how pretty Sophie’s creation, Love Buzz, was. It was perfectly named for its ingredients – as well as Patron it included Yuzu, vermouth infused with strawberries and a dash of rose syrup. Beautiful. And potent.

oxo tower cocktails in the city

I had a little chat with Sophie after her presentation, and found out she had a lot to do with one of my favourite afternoon teas in London, the slightly boozy Not Quite Afternoon Tea at OXO Tower Brasserie (if you’re sweet toothed you have to try it, it’s awesome and changes seasonally so you can go time and time again…). Anyway, that’s a little off topic!

Other bars which are confirmed to be at the March event include Coq D’Argent, Reverend JW Simpson, Dishoom, Looking Glass Cocktail Club and Hush.

Perfect for everyone, from cocktail connoisseurs to someone who just likes a nice fruity drink, Cocktails In The City will be a super fun experience which I’m excited for!

If you’re not one of us spoilt for choice Londoners, Cocktails In The City will also take place across two days in three other cities; Leeds on 7th and 8th April, Manchester on 19th and 20th May and Edinburgh on 27th and 28th October.

Tickets can be bought from Design My Night or YPlan, priced at £15 for the London event which includes one cocktail, multiple sensory experiences and a cocktail booklet. Psst… If you haven’t used YPlan before you can use my code LEVANS88 to get £5 off!cocktails in the city

Hopefully I’ll see you there!

L xx

All photos my own.

I know, I know, my ‘weekly’ round up posts aren’t really happening weekly, but life gets in the way sometimes! It’s been a busy couple of weeks – not only have I had loads on, but I managed to fracture my shoulder, wrist and break my thumb (which is why you’ll see some rather attractive wrist supports in my pics for a while!).

Sadly my injuries happened on the day I was meant to attend #BLOGGERSBELOWZERO at the Ice Bar, which I had been looking forward to for ages! Ice Bar have been very kind though and have invited me to my own little review visit so I will be posting about it soon! In the meantime you can see what Luisa of Eat Sleep Luisa Repeat thought of it here.

So here’s what I got up to this fortnight…

People Footwear UK Launch

On Tuesday I went along to The Hoxton Gallery for the UK launch of Vegan leisure shoe line, People Footwear. You can read about it in detail here.

people footwear

Abhorrent Decimation at Scream Lounge

I left the People Footwear event a little early to get myself down to the tiny Scream Lounge in Croydon to see local death metal band Abhorrent Decimation. Loved them. Properly loved them.

Despite being exactly the kind of thing I usually love, Abhorrent Decimation had managed to pass me by up until now. But I was so impressed, and I left with a copy of their new album, Miasmic Mutation. If you like death metal with a modern edge give it a listen, it’s awesome.

abhorrent decimation

ABQ London

Wednesday evening was my second visit to the ABQ London Breaking Bad themed bar (after going the first time around in the Summer, which you can read about here). After such a successful run of their Hackney pop up RV, they returned to a new venue, and a new BYOB format, which I’ve posted about in detail here!

abq london

Grease at the Hard Rock Cafe POP Picturehouse

Hard Rock Cafe London have some really cool stuff coming up, starting with the immersive showing of Grease in collaboration with Pop Picturehouse.

pop picturehouse hard rock cafe

You can read about the event in detail here, and buy tickets for the next event, Spiceworld on 22nd February here.

Alice In Wonderland Exhibition at The British Library

Have I mentioned yet how much I love Alice In Wonderland? I actually don’t think I have, which is pretty strange as I have been OBSESSED with anything Alice since my childhood. So of course the Alice In Wonderland exhibition at the British Library was on my to do list. You can see a sneaky preview of the exhibition in this post.

alice in wonderland british library

Chicken Night with Yelp & Neighbourhood

I’ve really been getting into Yelp lately (you can check out my profile here if you’re interested, feel free to add me as a friend if you’re a fellow Yelper).  I’m actually pretty disappointed that I didn’t get involved sooner, since they have such a great community and hold some really awesome events!

Wednesday just gone I attended their Newbie and Chicken Night at Neighbourhood in Stratford. It was a great night, I met some cool new people and had a delicious family style dinner and as much beer as I could drink! Thanks Yelp!

chickennight

At Home With The Chef with Yelp & Eat With

Another night, another Yelp event! This was actually a pretty special one, there were only eight spaces available so Yelp ran a little competition – the eight Yelpers who recruited the most new members won a space. And I actually won overall, and got an extra little gift of a really nice cafetiere and coffee – I’m keeping it for my new desk when I start my new job in March.

Now, this event run with Eat With is worthy of a post all of its own, so you can read about it soon!

eat with

In the meantime you can find out a bit more about the chef who cooked for us, Dylan, on his blog, The Travelling Editor.

Fat Tuesday – London Mardi Gras 2016

You may have seen my post about Fat Tuesday in advance of the event? Regardless, I was invited down by Kansas Smittys and Shotgun Carousel to their London Mardi Gras event on Southbank. Despite the miserable weather, it was a great night!

london mardi gras

So, that was what’s been going on in my life lately – the next couple of weeks are going to be busy too! Stay tuned for more cool Yelp events, Slipknot, a new tattoo and plenty of (anti) Valentines stuff!

L xx

All photos my own.

If you’re going to be single at Valentines Day, what better place to be than London?

I’ll be honest, I’m not overly fussed about Valentines, but there are so many fun events coming up over the next couple of weeks that I may as well get into the spirit of things! And I’m not talking overpriced romantic dinners surrounded by starry eyed couples, haha!

So here are my top five picks of the anti (or just not quite so traditional) Valentines events going on this year. You’ll most likely find me at a couple of them…

Valentine’s Extreme Garnishing

You know I like my weird and wonderful food events by now, right? Well The Robin Collective put on the most interesting pop-ups, from re-creating the Eiffel Tower out of toast to making miniature gardens from coconut grass and brownie soil.

sweets

I’m super excited to be joining them for their Valentine’s workshop – Extreme Garnishing at The Hoxton in Shoreditch. Not entirely sure what to expect, but I hear there will be molecular techniques, love potions and even cooking with explosives! I can’t wait!

dynamite

Extreme Garnishing is happening on Tuesday 16th February and tickets are selling like hot cakes, so pick one up for £20 from Design My Night.

If you’re intrigued by the toast, there’s another toast build coming up – look at their upcoming events here. Oh, and I’m also keen to try some of their Medicinal Marshmallows

Blindfold Date

If you’re British, and unless you’re way too young for me anyway, there’s no way you won’t know what Blind Date is (and I hear it’s making a comeback!). On Wednesday 10th February (so great timing for you to actually make plans for V Day at the weekend if they manage to match you up with Mr/Miss Right), It’s Unknown will be hosting a gameshow type night at Concrete in Shoreditch.

blindfolddate

As well as one lucky contestant being blindfolded on stage to ask questions of three potential soulmates, there will be plenty of other chances to find love – including tombolas of love (?), love shacks and slow dance sessions (that’s my nightmare, right there!)…

I’ll be at Blindfold Date with a a few hot girl friends, so get involved! Tickets are £6 advance from Design My Night.

Psst… It’s Unknown have plenty more cool events up their sleeves – sticking with the love theme there’s Musical Bingo’s Heart Make Hotel later this month.

The Bloody Valentine Cabin

If you’ve seen my bucket list, you’ll know I’m dying to try out one of the cabins at York & Albany in Camden – and obviously a horror themed version is ideal! From 11th to 14th February, the cabins are decked out in blood splatter, with screenings of horror movies and themed cocktails and snack platters. Prices start at £30 per person (for snack platters and a cocktail), but there is a minimum spend of £120 per cabin for groups of 4 or less (£180 on Friday and Saturday).

yanda

You can book a cabin by emailing experiences@gordonramsay.com or for larger groups, you can book on Design My Night.

Eat Your Heart Out

I love a good supper club, and you know when it’s being held at House of Vans in Waterloo it’s going to be a fun one! With mischieviously named dishes like ‘Cupid’s a Cock-tail’ and ‘Sour Grapes’, their anti-Valentines supper club is in conjunction with Grub Club, so you can take it as a given that the food is going to be good.

lovebites

Dinner is on Saturday 12th February, and tickets are £30 each, but currently YPlan have a great deal with tickets at £25.50 (also, you can save another £5 using my code LEVANS88 ).

Or, if brunch is more your thing, House of Vans and Grub Club are holding an anti-Valentines part 2 on the day itself, with their Boozy Bill Murray Brunch – a Bill Murray double bill, bellinis, Bloody Mary’s (or, erm, ‘Bloody Murrays’), unlimited waffles and pancakes and a whole load of American style sharing dishes. Pretty good for £20.

billmurray

House of Vans also have a couple of anti-Valentines double bills (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind/Lars & The Real Girl or Before Sunrise/Her) and a cute card making workshop.

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart

Nothing says anti-Valentines like preserving a heart and putting it in a jar, right? Not one for the faint at heart, a couple of places are holding macabre classes in pickling lamb hearts and placing them in jars. Has anyone else noticed that taxidermy is so in right now? I don’t really get it, but anyway…

hearts

The Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch (which makes an appearance on my bucket list for its Brothers Grimm themed rooftop) is holding their workshop on their rooftop terrace on Saturday 6th February for £55 (or £100 for a couple). Tickets available here.

Or The British Academy of Taxidermy have two sessions on actual Valentines Day priced at £50 each (or £70 for a couple) at the Islington Arts Factory. Tickets available here.

Dirty Lovin’

Yes this is number 6, and I know, it isn’t exactly a Valentines alternative but I wanted to give it a mention. The Kensington branch of one of my favourites, Dirty Bones (you can see a review post here) has a Valentines Tasting Menu night on February 14th, featuring some brand new dishes – for £25 you get two courses, sides and a cocktail.

dirtylovin

Also, from 12th to 14th February, the to die for Banana Toblerone-tella Waffles are available all day, not just for brunch at both Dirty Bones Kensington and Carnaby.

So there you have them, my top picks. I’d love to hear what other single people get up to!

L xx

All photos from the relevant establishments/PRs.

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.

abq london

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.

abq london

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…)

abq london

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.

abq london

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.

abq6

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’.

fly

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’.

abq london

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

abq london

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!

tripping

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.

tripping2

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)…

abq7

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.

abq9

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.

abq london

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.

abq london

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.

We all know by now how much I love a good burger, right? I mean, just look how much I ate on National Burger Day, haha!

So of course I got overexcited when my favourite burger joints brought out their festive specials! Anyway, here are my five favourites from this year, in no particular order…

MeatLiquor

I actually ventured out of London to try the XXXmas menu at MeatLiquor – it was my first visit to their branch in Brighton. I think it might actually have my favourite interior of the whole chain, but this post isn’t a restaurant review so I’ll focus on the food…

MeatLiquors festive menu appealed to me the most out of the ones I saw (and trust me, I looked at a lot of festive burger menus), which isn’t surprising really. I love the chains aesthetic, and their food is always interesting.

Top of my list to try was their XXXmas Garbage Plate – fries, sausage & stuffing patty topped with slices of roast turkey served with gravy, cranberry sauce and crispy stuffing sprinkles. I’m a fan of fries with OTT toppings anyway (I love a good poutine) so this was always going to be my favourite. It was basically a junk food version of Christmas dinner – my kind of meal!

garbageplate

Yes, I know this isn’t technically a festive burger, but I did have the XXXmas Burger too and it was a tough one to beat! Instead of your usual beef, this burger had a sausage and stuffing patty, roast turkey, crispy bacon, gravy and cranberry sauce. It was delicious and tasted like Christmas – the most specifically festive tasting of the burgers I tried. Literally Christmas Dinner in a bun.mlxmas

It was very similar in flavour to the garbage plate (obviously, since it has virtually the same ingredients) so I would suggest ordering one or the other – not both like I did!

I also tried the Xmac & Cheese – deep fried camembert and stilton mac and cheese with a cranberry and port dipping sauce. These were divine. I love the regular mac and cheese bites but these were extra oozy and cheesy and the sauce was perfect. I definitely over cranberried on this meal!

mltray

In case you’re wondering what else is on the tray, we also ordered the Chicken Parma Burger and the Fried Pickles (my favourite side!).

Honest Burgers

Honest Burgers will always be one of my most visited burger chains in London – it’s so hard to find a good burger served on the rare side, so when I find one it automatically becomes a favourite. I tried the festive special at their branch in Tooting.

Honest kept it quite simple with just one festive option – a burger comprising of a Ginger Pig beef patty topped with a well sized slab of brie coated in poppy seeds and breadcrumbs, smoked bacon, cranberry sauce and rocket. Perfectly pink in the middle, no overly dominant flavours – my only niggle was that I’m not overly keen on poppy seeds, but I can’t really make personal preference a criticism. It was festive but not over the top so, and the brie was a generous slab, no stinginess on toppings here.

honestxmas

Pssst… I can’t talk about Honest without giving the infamous rosemary salted chips a mention. They’re served on the side with every burger and are proper squishy yet crispy chip shop style chips to die for.

Dip & Flip

I love Dip & Flip. Seriously, a branch opening in my neck of the woods (Wimbledon) has not been good for my waistline. I’ve tried several things from the menu, and they’re all pretty faultless.

I’ll be honest – the festive special here is nothing revolutionary, but to be fair, their regular menu with it’s roast meat topped burgers lends is easily adapted to a turkey version.

Their are two variants on the festive special – the Dip (thinly sliced turkey in a roll) or the Dip & Flip (cheeseburger served topped with thinly sliced turkey). Both are topped with stuffing and cranberry slaw, and are served with the usual tray of gravy.

I went for the Dip & Flip. The burger patty, served medium, was perfectly cooked, with a bit of pink inside but a really nice slight charring outside. They’re generous with their toppings too, the cheese just oozed out of this one. Oh yeah, Dip & Flip is messy – not somewhere for a first date! The turkey was lovely and moist. I couldn’t really taste the cranberry though which was a shame.

dfxmas

If you’re wondering what the other dish is in the picture, it’s a favourite menu item of mine – the bacon and green chilli cheese fries, which are a bit like a poutine. Seriously filling though, you only need one portion between two of you.

Shakes are good too and the specials are usually pretty exciting. The festive shake is a vanilla mince pie version – try it with bourbon, trust me!

Dirty Bones

Ah, I love Dirty Bones! And you’ll quite often find me in the Carnaby St branch.

Their festive menu rivalled MeatLiquors to be my favourite. I think I like when places actually put some proper effort in, rather than just creating a special burger. Dirty Bones had festive burgers, side, cocktails, desserts…

dbxmas

Anyway, the Get Elf’d Burger – aged steak patty topped with deep fried cran-brie, torn slow cooked gammon and stuffing mayo. I’m all about gammon at Christmas, so this was a no brainer! Nice, good quality pink in the middle (have we established by now that I like a rare burger?) beef, a generous portion of flavourful gammon and a big chunk of breaded brie – well played Dirty Bones, well played.

You could double this one up but I chose not to. Only because I needed space for the Double Dirty Fries (see my review here for more about these) and dessert…

dbdessert

So the dessert – the Smashed Mince Pie, which I’d read rave reviews about. I’ll be honest, I was a little underwhelmed. It was just a nicely presented broken up mince pie with brandy butter gelato and coconut ‘snow’. Nice, but not £6.50 nice.

Voodoo Ray’s

Okay not a burger but I had to sneakily add this festive pizza in! I’ve talked about Voodoo Ray’s before here – I’m a fan. And the festive pizza I tried, Santana’s Little Helper, was delicious! I visited the branch in Shoreditch BoxPark.

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I mean who could resist pigs in blankets on a pizza? It was also topped with red onion, rocket, marinated tomatoes, cranberry and parsley. I strongly recommend you try a slice.

voodoo

So, those are my top picks of the London chains for festive junk food – I’d love to hear if anyone else has any recommendations.

L xx

All photos my own.