Introducing a new pop-up cocktail bar in Peckham Rye
If you’re out and about in Peckham, ensure you head to BATCH Bar, a new pop-up bar by Twist London located in the heart of Peckham. The low-key frontage (akin to a take-away restaurant) makes it easy to miss, but once inside, visitors will be impressed by the unique and reasonably priced cocktails on offer.
Tim Robinson from Twist London, the brains behind the concept, wants punters to experience high quality cocktails in a friendly and non-pretentious environment. The TWISTED CHRISTMAS theme has been inspired by Nordic monsters, providing an interesting alternative for those who are looking for somewhere a bit quirky to imbibe during the festive season.
We recommend you slake your thirst with our favourite cocktail from the monster menu - a Straggles Sour – featuring FEW Bourbon from Maverick Drinks - a craft spirits specialist and drinks partner – and homemade blueberry, ginger and lime cordial, lemon juice and egg whites.
Spice lovers will adore the Krampus Gimlet – a fiery number made with Bitter Bastards Naga Chilli Bitters. Just ensure you can take the heat! If cocktails aren't your bag, not to worry as BATCH Bar also offers an extensive wine list and beer from local brewery Peckham’s Brick Brewery.
56 Peckham Rye
We were first introduced to the Italian concept of aperitivo during a weekend jaunt to Milan. We loved enjoying the tasty small plates while sipping on sophisticated cocktails and lamented that we couldn’t replicate our experience in London.
So, we were pleased to hear about the opening of Ritorno, a sophisticated lounge with an Italian kitchen in the heart of Chelsea specialising in Italian small plates. This 80-cover lounge is a gorgeous place to unwind with decadent cocktails and moreish nibbles in a stylish setting, while still being able to enjoy a conversation with your companions.
The décor reminded me of Roberto Cavalli's style - all sexy dark colours and opulent styling with its striking butterfly wallpaper from luxury Venetian brand Rubelli, olive green velvet chairs, and dark forest green booths, sleek black glass tables and illuminated faux marble pillars, which create a sumptuous environment. We later learned that the décor is the work of Milanese interior designer Ingrid Nardilli who used butterflies in the interior as they ‘represent lightness, beauty and elegance, which is what they'd like guests to associate with Ritorno’.
Guests can choose from 40 small plates prepared by chef Filippo Salzano, all of which use high quality ingredients and the freshest produce possible. Even the mozzarella is made using the authentic Italian method, but prepared in the UK to ensure it’s as fresh as possible.
During our visit we had the homemade artisan bread served with Lorenzo extra virgin olive oil (our new favourite olive oil); potato croquettes, fried mozzarella, arancina and fried artichoke; pan-fried Milanese saffron risotto, homemade taglioni with mini meatballs and the crispy pork belly with basil oil. All of the dishes were fresh, delicious, beautifully presented and not too heavy, which is exactly what you want when you’re enjoying cocktails as well. Being dessert lovers, we finished with the chocolate fondant, which was fab. The small plates range in price from £5.50-£10.50 and it’s recommended that two people sharing start with five small plates to share, which we found was more than adequate.
Ritorno has a wide range of innovative cocktails, so it’s worth trying a few different cocktails during your visit. The cocktails range in price from £12.50-£13.50, on par with what you’d expect to pay in finer establishments. If you’re not sure what you’re in the mood for, the helpful mixologists can provide recommendations to suit your tastes. With head barman Paolo Viola behind the helm (formerly of Rivoli Bar at The Ritz), you really can’t go wrong.
The Ritorno Milan Mule was a unique twist on a classic, featuring homemade clementine and cinnamon syrup, Campari bitter and ginger beer. If you’re looking for a show-stopping cocktail, however, then the Snow Kings is the only drink of choice. This winter cocktail has a white Americano base, soft hazelnut liquor foam, Mancino Bianco, Bitter Berto, Frangelico Liqueur and egg white and comes served with smoke from a burnt cinnamon stick, which is trapped in a glass dome and then wafted at the diner when presented at the table.
If you’re not into alcohol, there’s no need to feel left out as their mocktails are also sensational.
The staff here are exceptionally knowledgeable about the provenance of every item, which makes each drink and dish all the more special when you have the full back story to accompany it. Everyone at Ritorno really goes out of their way to make guests feel special, which is one of the reasons we can’t wait to go back.
For larger groups, there is a private dining room downstairs, which seats 10 guests, making it the perfect place for an intimate gathering.
This is a great place to unwind with a sexy post work tipple and nibbles.
Because one can never have too many blossoms in their life...
From now until the 18th of June, Saka no Hana is celebrating the arrival of spring with the return of the cherry blossom garden in the Sake no Hana bar. Guests will love the gorgeous cherry blossoms, which decorate the space, giving it an ethereal feel. The breath-taking atmosphere is carried throughout the restaurant via a cherry blossom archway, which covers the escalators to the main restaurant, to instantly transport guests to a magical experience.
To celebrate the cherry blossom season, Saka no Hana has created a limited edition Sakura menu (£34.00 per person) featuring a cocktail, miso soup, a sushi and sashimi bento box and a main course.
We kick started our visit in style with the signature cocktail, the Kaori Arpege, which featured Beefeater 24 gin, yuzu sake, cherry liqueur, peach bitters, grapefruit juice and agave. The cocktail arrived with three atomisers (each featuring a different flavour to spray the cocktail), which we found very exciting - even if we weren't quite sure what we were spraying each time we gave it a go!
For our main course, we had the chicken sumiyaki, featuring large chunks of chicken, which were very moreish. For dessert, we had the cherry chocolate sake mousse and the chocolate crumble with sake jelly (£8.50), which were lovely.
A hidden drinking den deep in the heart of Soho...
If you like your cocktail bars small, dark and cosy, then you'll love The Vault, a fab little gem of a bar hidden below Milroy's specialist whisky shop in Soho.
To the untrained visitor, it looks like an ordinary whisky shop until you open the bookshelf door at the back, which leads to the cocktail bar in the basement. As a kid, I always dreamed of having one of these doors, and as an adult, the novelty factor is still just as strong.
Launched in January 2015, the 55-capacity speakeasy is already proving popular with the local media crowd and trendy young 20 or 30-somethings with a love for strong, innovative cocktails. The atmosphere is very low-key, making it the type of place where you can actually carry on a conversation with friends, while still having just enough buzz to keep it interesting (something that becomes increasingly more important when you're no longer in your early 20s).
Owner Simo who is 'bringing back the 90s by going by one name like Cher', his words not mine, built the bar himself, using his construction skills to rescue the bar from its tacky 70s interior to transform it into a comfortable, cocoon-like space where one can easily while away the hours while enjoying a stiff tipple.
Joining him at the helm is Bar Manager Natalino Marano, formerly of Coal Vaults on Wardour Street, (where he met Simo). Italian born and bred (the name kind of gives it away), Natalino is all charm as he furiously shakes cocktails into submission, ensuring that every drink is perfectly executed.
The two make a dynamic duo and you get the impression that they really love what they're doing. In fact, they're so friendly and welcoming you're made to feel as if you're a regular, even if it's your first visit. I'm going to think of it as my own personal Cheers (a popular American TV show in the 80s and 90s for those who may not get the reference).
In the short time that The Vault has been open, they've already launched two cocktail menus, which involves Simo and Natalino sitting around a table testing and enjoying new drink concoction, all in the name of research. If you ask me, they've definitely got the whole work/life balance thing figured out!
During my visit I sampled several cocktails featured on the Summer Cocktail Menu, all of which were totally unique and exceptionally prepared. One of the things that sets apart the cocktails at The Vault is their use of fresh ingredients and their love for infusing spirits using fruits and herbs.
Bar Manager Natalino said that the most difficult aspect of making cocktails is knowing what appeals to different palates. He said: "If everyone's tastes were the same it would be much easier, but boring." Based on the innovative drinks that form the cocktail menu, you can tell that they are really pushing the boat out in efforts to avoid being labeled as dull.
Highlights of the cocktail menu included the Carnabation Army (barrel aged Boulvadier, Bourbon, Campari, Camparno Antica); Blood in the Snow (White Armagnac, Figs, Demerara Sugar, Lemon, Egg White, Peychaud's Bitters); the Red Rimmer (Mezcal, Jalapeno Pepper, Agave, Lime, Grapefruit, Spiced Rum) and the Scandy Dandy (named after its Scandavian base spirit) and mixed with Caramel, Vanilla, Sea Salt, Lemon and Rosemary.
While all of these wild concoctions are indeed cool and it's always great to try something different, I'm a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to cocktails, shunning the unique for classic favourites. The Old Fashioned (topped with Mezcal for a twist on an original) and the Espresso Martini (which uses Bolivian chocolate) were both superb and one of the best versions I've had of each. Rumour even has it that even the Bolivian Ambassador has been down to enjoy the Espresso Martini to see what the fuss is all about! Quite frankly, if the cocktails here are good enough for an ambassador, they're good enough for me!
Get there now before you need to fight off the crowds to secure a stool at the bar...
Milroy's of Soho
3 Greek Street
Restaurants, Bars and food/drink pop ups and reviews
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