Little Black Book to London: part two

“Cool never stays in one place for long. By its very nature, it’s always looking for the next place to hang out, to drink, to try not to dance too zealously to the freshest tunes.”

So scribbled journalist Clive Martin.

Martin wasn’t wide of the mark.

Here’s our guide to the capital’s coolest new spots and events for spring/summer 2018…

Smoky cocktails at The Royal Exchange


Smoked flavours are having a moment in cocktail culture and the trend has found it’s way to The Royal Exchange – one of London’s most iconic buildings – at Threadneedle Bar.
The new menu offers smokiness to cocktail aficionados in two ways: through intrinsically smoky ingredients such as whisky and mezcal which feature prominently throughout the menu, and by infusing key serves with wood smoke for a robust flavour and unique immersive experience.
Each cocktail boasts its own distinct personality and has been carefully crafted for depth of character and complexity.
Choose from the Smoky Mandarin (Black Label whisky, Mandarin Napoleon liqueur, Talisker 10yo, cinnamon sugar), Mexican Negroni (Mezcal, Campari, Martini Rosso), The White Lord (Tanqueray Gin, Suze, Martini Bianco), The Lumberjack (Woodford Reserve infused with bacon, maple syrup, orange and angostura bitters) or JAT favourite The Art of Rum (Ron Zacapa 23yo, cherry liqueur, banana syrup, orange bitters).
All cocktails on the smoky menu are priced at £12.00 and available until the end of 2018. Smokin!

Mad Lab at Madison
Shake, rattle and stir your way to killer cocktails with Madison’ s MadLab sessions.
Don a lab coat and learn three cocktail techniques – carbonation, infusion and foam.

Learn how to make a foam with the help of a blender and vegan emulsifying/stabiliser agent using a nitrous oxide cartridge – and then how to integrate the foam into a cocktail.

Make an instant infusion with a cream whipper and a nitrous oxide cartridge. You’ll then create a cocktail with the infused spirit and learn how to use a torch to caramelise the garnish.

Master a carbonated cocktail with a cream whipper and CO2 cartridge, before using the torch to scorch the garnish.

You’ll get the chance to create molecular twists on three Absolut Elyx vodka based cocktails, with the finished serves yours to enjoy while drinking in the views of the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral from the top of the Jean Nouvel designed One New Change complex. Chin chin.

Grease is the word

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Pink Ladies get ready! To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Grease, TV streaming service NOW TV is creating a slumber party pop-up experience.
On 10 and 11 May only, fans will be able to visit an exact replica of Frenchy’s bedroom: expect patterned pink wallpaper, plush carpets and satin-fringed curtains, Rydell High flags and even a giant panda toy poised to paw Rizzo’s silky drawers.
Slumber party guests will be able to take their pick from a Grease inspired prop box, bursting at the seams with rollers, hair nets, jackets and much more, to transform themselves into a Pink Lady and step back to the fifties – all they’ll need to do is battle it out for the role of Sandy and Rizzo
Food and drink straight out of the fifties will be available as guests get comfy on Frenchy’s patchwork bedspread and settle down to watch the iconic film.
Even better? Fans can enter the Eventbrite ballot for the chance to win free tickets to one of the seven sessions  (day and evening times) available, here

Bluebird flies into White City


The celebrated Chelsea restaurant and café has spread its wings and opened its doors at one of London’s hottest venues: take a bow Television Centre White City.
Opening out onto a piazza overlooked by the Television Centre’s famous circular core, Bluebird Café White City is at the heart of the £8 billion regeneration that has opened this iconic location to residents, diners and revellers for the first time in its history.
Bluebird’s new sister encompasses a café, bar and spacious all-year-round terrace spread out over 5000-square-foot space serving a modern European menu: think Nduja crusted yellow fin tuna with grilled onion and green sauce, Butter chicken curry with basmati rice and burnt chilli and Spiced King prawns with yoghurt and pistachio.
The interior has been designed by David d’Almada’s Sagrada and incorporates a mix of British styling from the 1960s and modern Bluebird Chelsea glamour, while the artwork has been sourced by Fraser Scott and features works by young British artists as well as designs inspired by Bridget Riley and Celia Birtwell.

The sky’s the limit at Jin Bo Law Skybar

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London has a new rooftop bar: here’s looking at Jin Bo Law.
Located on the 14th floor of the new Dorsett City hotel, Jin Bo Law offers panoramic views taking in key sights of the London skyline such as the Walkie-Talkie, the Gherkin, and the Shard, alongside quintessentially London landmarks including Tower Bridge and the Thames – as well  an innovative Asian-inspired menu.
Tipple to try include Pickled Think (Japanese spirit Shochu, pickled ginger and Japanese raspberries), Spice to Meet You(Chinese flavours, featuring gin and quince alongside fragrant five spice and Acacia honey) and Nikka-Bocker Glory – a unique play on traditional Vietnamese coffee, with its sweetened condensed milk and Japanese whisky, served like a milkshake.

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Gin is in

A new golden age of gin has hit London writes Kaye Holland Blame Don Draper – Mad Men’s mysterious protagonist – if you will but gin is enjoying a revival. Yes ahead (tissues at the ready) of the seventh and final season of Mad Men, which airs on 13 April,  the juniper based spirit is back in the spotlight.


And it doesn’t matter which London tribe you belong to: gin is the drink du jour for Sloane Rangers, Notting Hillbillies and Hoxton hipsters alike.

The classic gin and tonic cocktail – or G&T as it is affectionately known – was created, almost by accident, back in  the 18th century by the British army in India.  The British troops were forced to take tonic water – with its malaria-fighting quinine extract – on a daily basis while stationed in the subcontinent. To disguise the tonic water’s bitter taste, the soldiers added a generous dose of gin and a slice of lemon and low and behold: the humble gin and tonic was born.

The British Raj were so taken with their creation, that they brought it back home with them where it quickly acquired a cult status in boardrooms and golf clubs across the country.


It lost a little of its fashionability in the noughties when – thanks to the success Sex and the City – Londoners developed a love affair with showy, sexy cocktails (here’s looking at you the Cosmopolitan, Pina colada and Sex on the beach).

However fast forward to the present and the pendulum has swung back: in London 2014 the emphasis is once again on classic gin-based cocktails. Londoners are a discerning bunch and we’re seeking out cocktails that possess both  style and substance. The message? Wave goodbye to whisky, vodka and rum and make gin your tipple of choice.

The capital leads the way – natch – when it comes to bijoux bars dedicated to gin but below you’ll find our pick of the places to raise your glass and welcome the return of Don, Roger and the rest of Sterling Cooper & Partners crew.

Haute Living loves…

City of London Distillery (Blackfriars) At this working distillery, customers can learn the art of gin making and produce and personalise a bottle of your very own gin.

Gin & Jazz at The InterContinental (Park Lane) Twice a month the Intercontinental hotel on Park Lane hosts a gin and jazz party: sample from a list of around 35 gins while enjoying live jazz.


The Ginstitute (Notting Hill) Located above the Portobello Star, punters can make their own cocktail or if that sounds too much like hard work, order one created by Jake Burger – aka the ginstructor.

Mishkin’s (Covent Garden) The drinks menu at Russell Norman’s Jewish-style deli pays homage to gin: expect to find around 20 varieties of gin and eight gin based cocktails.

Eight reasons why London isn't always great


Last month – basking in the aftermath of the Brits, BAFTAs and ‘surprise’ Prince gigs – we gushed about how much we loved London. It was, we smugly declared, the greatest city in the world. Fast-forward four weeks and, while we’re still obsessed with the capital – truth be told there’s nowhere else in the UK that we’d even consider calling home – we’ve calmed down a tad. We can appreciate why people don’t love London, without thinking that they have a screw loose. Here’s eight of the most enraging things about living in London

The tube

How come a tube journey costs more in London than in any other city and yet the transport system never runs smoothy – invariably affected by rain, snow, signal failures and engineering works (here’s looking at you Met line) every other weekend?


The expense
£18 for a cocktail at celeb hangout, Annabel’s? In the words of tennis legend, John McEnroe: You cannot be serious. Yes we know this private members club is the only one to have been visited by Her Majesty the Queen but £18 for a modest mojito? The words ‘off’ and ‘rip’ could easily be arranged.


The quality of (affordable) accommodation
Chances are that unless you’re a footballer, banker or barrister, you’ll live somewhere that’s more of a hovel than a home. I’ve rented a ground floor room replete with a creaking boiler, a room the size of a postage stamp and a windowless, Wi-Fi free, freezing cold basement before fleeing further afield to zone five - which isn’t without its own problems...


The commute
igger isn’t always better. Your suburban property might be more spacious but you’ll need to allow a minimum of an hour to reach civiilisation (aka central London). Going out at night? Unless you fancy remortgaging your house to pay for a black cab home, the nightmare that is the night bus (expect urination, violence and vomiting) awaits. And don’t think you can convince your friends to leave their postcode and pop in and see you: if you live in zone five, you might as well be on Mars.


The unfriendliness
During summer 2012, London was transformed: the frowns on the faces of commuters were turned into smiles as everyone pulled together to stage the greatest Olympic Games the world has ever seen. But after the Olympic torch had been extinguished, normality returned: we’re all pushing and shoving for a seat (dream on!) on the tube and are unenthusiastic about enthusiasm.


The weather
When the sun is shining, London looks the part. Sadly the sun rarely makes an appearance – even during the height of summer. Rather we have to cope with skies that are the colour of porridge, biting winds, bucket loads of rain and sub zero temperatures. Some people like it cold. Some people are bonkers.


Everyone is always busy
Never ever ask a Londoner if they’re free to meet in the next fortnight. My friends and I have what we refer to as the ‘three week rule’ – we’re talking a good 21 days away when it comes to getting a date in the diary to catch up. We laugh about it but yup it can frustrate when your best mate isn’t available until April and your brother, who you haven’t seen since Crimbo, advises ‘Easter’.


The exhaustion
As Londoners we spend Monday-Friday working (the number of Londoners who work 48 hour weeks has risen from 10 per cent in the nineties to 26 per cent in 2014, with 70 hours weeks now the norm) and playing (post work drinks, dinner at the latest IT restaurant, theatre dates) HARD. Little wonder then that when the weekend rolls around, we’re drained – both mentally and physically. This disturbing new trend is what Londoners are referring to as the Shatterday/Shunday phenomenon. We’re following the 5:2 plan not just with our diets, but when it comes to work and socialising too, and its taking its toll.

Still perhaps all of the above is price I have to pay not to live, like the rest of my family, in East Anglia?