It’s Thursday, which means I’m getting pretty thirsty for the weekend. Are you?

Most of my weekend will be spent trying to choose where to go for this year’s Open House London and getting in a bit of chill time to myself. But tomorrow night I’m hosting a small cocktail party with some friends and it reminded me that I needed to tell you about Seymour’s Parlour. A much more decandent lounge than my own, offering delicious cocktails that its owner is well-known for, just a heart beat away from busy Oxford Street on the quieter streets Marylebone.

I came across it as I was looking for somewhere to have a birthday cocktail last month. I’ve been meaning to go to the cocktail lounge at The Zetter Townhouse in Clerkenwell for ages, it always gets rave reviews but I never seem to be able to make my way over there. I couldn’t believe that the hotel had opened another branch right under my nose in Marylebone. Just a 15 minute walk from the office and with a cocktail lounge equal to its established sibling. So it was settled, Seymour’s Parlour it was.

Like its sister in Farringdon, the entrance is unassuming and could be mistaken for any other lovely home in London (which I’d no doubt be posting to Instagram without hesistation).

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I hesitated for a minute, before carefully opening the door into a cosy lounge.

I’d booked a table in advance because I wanted to guarantee a seat, but at 6pm there were a few other tables free. I was with Lucinda and we got caught up in a usual post-work natter, before taking a minute to concentrate on the menu.

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I’ll admit I had to google a couple of those ingredients under the table before choosing. But with a little bit more knowledge it was a surprisingly tough decision. After a debate over our choices we put in our order and got back to catching up on life of late.

Eventually, we took a moment to have a look around at the kitsh interior. A sort of upmarket shabby chic, perhaps an aquaintance of Mr Fogg.

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Our cocktails arrived not too long after. Lucinda ordered the Valaiz Fizz and I went for Le Sphinx.

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Of course we both had a sip of each other’s. Both were really refreshing.

We carried on with our conversations and once our drinks had been drained went in search of food. We both agreed that although getting someone’s attention to order drinks had been a little slow, we definitely needed to head back after work again in the near future to work our way through a few more cocktails on the menu. I have a feeling it will be even more cosy once the nights draw in and perhaps the fire in that fireplace is roaring.

Have you been to either of the cocktail lounges at The Zetter Townhouse? Have you been to any new cocktail bars that I should try next?

Seymour’s Parlour can be found here. It’s open until midnight Sunday to Wednesday and 1am Thursday to Saturday. All the details can be found on the website here.

Each year, finding the time to meet friends and planning somewhere nice to sit down and have a proper catch up, with a steady supply of cocktails, seems to get harder.  Quick, last-minute catch ups squeezed in between work and life can be easier but I’ll always value quality time with my friends much more. Is there anything better than putting the world to rights and getting fully up to speed with the people who you care about, who know you best and who you feel most comfortable with? It’s such a nice way to spend an evening and I’m pretty sure has some health benefits too 😉

Lucinda and I had been talking about getting a cocktail hour in the diary for ages. Despite working in offices next door to each other, work and after-work life has often got in the way of catch ups outside our quick lunch dates. But the other week we finally managed to find a Friday night before wedding season kicks off and we were determined to find good cocktails. After consulting Time Out London’s Best Cocktail Bars and the London’s Best Cocktail app, we’d shortlisted a few places. As you can guess from the title we ended up choosing Bar Americain. It’s super central, being right next to Piccadilly Circus, and it gets great reviews.

Bar Americain is part of Brasserie Zedel, which was once part of The Regent Palace Hotel and opened in 1915. It was redecorated in an Art Deco style in the 1930s by the widely respected Oliver Percy Bernard, but after World War II its popularity declined and it fell into disrepute. The Crown Estate brought it back to life some decades later, carefully restoring its Art Deco past whilst bringing it up to 21st century standards and raising its reputation. Today, you’ll find a grand restaurant, with a lively cabaret and jazz bar, and separate cocktail bar in the basement.

We arrived at Bar Americain not long after 6pm without a reservation and managed to grab one of the last few tables for two near the bar.

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I loved the American Art Deco interior, the aviation/ travel theme makes it feel like being in a first class airport bar from the 30s (I’m not entirely sure they existed then but that’s what I decided it felt like.)

One of the great things about my friendship with Lucinda is that we’ve known each other long enough we can happily sit in a minute of silence whilst we deliberate our choices.

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I had ‘The French Aperitif’ to start – Gin, Byrrh, Lemon Juice, Orgeat, Bitter Lemon and Cherry Bitters.

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Tart, crisp and refreshing, combined with that Friday night thirst it was enjoyed pretty quickly. I loved how the gold stripes tied in with the Art Deco theme. It’s definitely details like this that make the difference.

Lucinda had the ‘Lady Day’ – Gin, Blackberry, Raspberry, Apple, Lemon & Soda

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A sweet combination of flavours with just enough sharpness from the gin and lemon to avoid it becoming a bit sickly.

This was followed by two ‘Parisian Summer’ – Citron Vodka, Lillet Rose, Cointreau, Cranberry.

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This was one of my favourites. There’s something about drinking out of saucers like this that feels so decadent.

(I can’t deny that I currently have this scene from Great Gatsby in my mind as I write this!)

 

I finished with a ‘Millionaire’ – Dark Rum, Sloe Gin, Apricot, Lime.

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Rum always provides a bit of a tropical slant in a cocktail (maybe because it’s the spirit of summer holidays for me!), but the other ingredients were enough to make it in-keeping with the bar theme. Of course, this one went down well too.

And for Lucinda’s last cocktail… Hmmm, I can’t remember the name of it!

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Possibly the ‘Aviation’  – Gin, Maraschino, Lemon? Memory loss, perhaps one of the first effects of drinking three cocktails before dinner!

After handing over more money than we were intending to spend on cocktails that night (oops!), we left a bustling bar full of cabaret customers, passers-by, and planned small parties.

Bar Americain is definitely a great option for a pre-dinner cocktail or catch up with a friend. The table service was efficient and we weren’t left without a drink for too long, which can be quite a feat in a cocktail bar like this. Whilst it was at the more expensive side of cocktail bars, sometimes it’s worth paying the extra for somewhere that isn’t overcrowded and you can hear people speak, with good service that means you don’t get that irritated feeling when waiting for a drink.

You can find it here (the cocktail bar is in the basement next to the cabaret bar).  The nearest station is Piccadilly Circus. It’s open Monday to Wednesday (4.30pm – 12am), Thursday to Friday (4.30pm – 1am), Saturday (1pm-1am) and Sunday (4.30pm – 11pm).

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Have you been to Bar Americain or Brassiere Zedel? Have you found any other great cocktail bars recently?

Whilst London can surprise me at any moment, the nights that go beyond my expectations can be few and far between. Maybe it’s because I have high expectations living in a capital city or maybe it’s a result of letting some of the good opportunities go by whilst being too busy? When something turns out to be more than what you thought it would be you have to share it, right?

A couple of weeks ago I was invited by About Time Magazine to attend a cocktail masterclass at 155 Bar & Kitchen, along with a group of bloggers. As a fan of the site and a lover of all good cocktails I accepted the invite in the blink of an eye. In the week running up to it I got swept up in the chaos of a working week and thought little of the event until the day arrived, time started to drag and I longed to be out of the office sipping cocktails. Even then, I only found out its exact location near Farringdon station as I was leaving the office!

So with little to no research I was completely surprised to discover when I arrived that 155 Bar & Kitchen is part of Clerkenwell London, which houses a collection of hand-picked homeware, fashion, stationery and art from niche and independent designers, as well as food, wine, cocktails and events.

We were given an after hours tour to take in its impressive selection. I think you’ll agree by the end of this post that it totally fits in with the creative area.

(By the way, sorry for the yellow/orange glow in these photos, I’m still getting used to taking photos at blogging events and the camera seems to struggle with low light – or I do!)

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We started in the basement with a fully stocked wine tasting area.

Moved on to the event space.

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Where you’ll find one of the private drinking or dining spots.

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Through to clothing.

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And up to homeware.

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If we had a bit more room in our flat I would have definitely added a few items to the wishlist.

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The stationary would make great gifts.

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There’s even a selection of perfume and scented candles (which I am so tempted to go back for).

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It might not be a shop that’s within my usual budget but I would certainly go back for gifts and key homeware pieces.

Once we’d taken in every corner (and attempted to photograph it all) we got started on to what we were really there for!

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155 Bar & Kitchen wanted to showcase their new autumnal cocktail menu by sharing a few recipes. Whilst we were chatting away we were handed the Lavender Refresher – Chase Gin, cranberry juice, lemon juice and homemade lavender syrup.

We talked about our blogs and our work. It was so nice to meet Carla from London is for Living, putting a face to a Twitter handle. It’s a little bit like meeting someone in person that you email at work, although much less formal! It was great to be able to chat before ‘getting to work’ too.

Then we got down to business with the art of cocktail making.

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First up was the Buffalo Berry – bourbon, lemon juice, fresh strawberries, apricot jam and basil leaves, muddled together in a similar way to a Mojito.

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I really enjoyed the bourbon and basil in this and was surprised how nice the spirit tasted in a cocktail.

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Next was Catch the Cherry – Tequila, Cherry Heering, Drambuie, apple juice, rosemary tincture and fresh lime juice. Shaken and poured over ice.

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Of course we all clambered over this pretty tray of drinks (you can see bloggers in the wild here. Oh dear.)

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And then got to sampling the drink.

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I liked the overall taste but I’m really not a tequila cocktail fan.

The last drink of the masterclass was Black Cow martini – a martini stirred (not shaken) with white vermouth.

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Served with a cracker and cheese!

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The cheese and cracker was the best part for me, way too strong for my liking!

We rounded the evening off with the Pinkster Bakewell Tart – gin, raspberry liqueur, amaretto and apple juice, with almond cream floated on top.

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It really was a bakewell tart in a glass!

It was a great selection of cocktails to cover all tastes in a beautiful venue that had so much more than I expected. I really would go back. You can find more information about 155 Bar & Kitchen on their website. (You may want to know, like much of the area, it’s not open at weekends ). It looks like they’ll be offering Cocktail Masterclasses too so keep an eye on this page if you’re interested.

Aside from the cocktails, it was a great blogger event which felt much more like networking than other events I’ve been to. It reminded me how fun it is getting together with other bloggers who are doing it as a hobby or as part of their work.

You can read more reviews of 155 Bar & Kitchen on Double Skinny Macchiato, The London Thing, and Sophie on a Plate.

I was invited as a guest by About Time but I was not asked to share this with you. As ever all opinions are my own.

The year so far has been full of 30ths, hen dos, weddings, weekend trips and holidays. Luxuriously long weekends have been packed with friends and family, absorbed by being out and about, or drinking and dancing the nights away. The end result is that I’ve hardly had time to enjoy a proper cocktail and by proper I mean one that has been carefully crafted and enjoyed in a cocktail bar.

A few weeks ago I saw a space in the calendar and an opportunity to grab my good friend Lucinda for a catch up. There was one place on the top of my list, Cahoots. If you’re a Buzzfeed fan like me (they really are pros at tapping into nostalgia and current topics) you may have seen this article some months ago, turning a secret bar into one of the most in-demand bars in the city. I was tempted to book myself in at the time but there was a waiting list and I decided that anywhere that good won’t be disappearing any time soon.

I booked a table for two about a week before we were both free. As soon as it was an acceptable time to leave the office we (quite literally) hot-footed it down there. If you’ve not heard of it before, Cahoots is an underground cocktail bar set in an abandoned tube station during the 1940s. Sometimes themed bars on this scale can feel a little tacky, but there was something more theatrical about Cahoots which made it a fun place for a drink.

It’s tucked away in Kingly Court and whilst it’s meant to be a secret, the underground signs and bright red entrance give it away somewhat.

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We were greeted by a chirpy man in a 1940s outfit who’ll checked our details and directed us downstairs.

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We entered the ‘Ticket Hall’.

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And were ushered through to the drinking den and our cosy table.

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You’ll find it hard to resist taking this photo with the drinks menu.

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A cleverly edited newspaper with a rather large choice of cocktails.

Unfortunately, my usual tactic of enjoying the drink and company then collecting menu details online failed here, so I can’t share the ingredients but I can tell you all three were delicious!

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And I think you’ll agree rather pretty. The cocktail above was from the ‘Starlets & Sirens’ section.

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The cocktail below was from the ‘In Cahooch’ selection. I believe I went for the ‘Don the Cahooch Comber’ and it was pretty tropical.

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If you like drinks with rum, like a Mai Thai, I think you’ll like this.

In between drinks, I took the opportunity to ‘get lost’ on my way to the toilet, and discovered all of the clever details they’ve put together to give the bar such a consistent theme. The Carriage is brilliant.

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I later investigated whether I could host my 30th there but sadly the cost was far above my budget. They have recently launched a supper club in this section so it might be worth keeping an eye on this page to see if any more dates come up.

The bunkers for large groups were pretty fun.

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A group of friends who’d visited before got a great picture together here.

My last drink of the night was the ‘Apples and Pears’ cocktail, quite aptly cockney.

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Cahoots was such a fun place with some great cocktails that I highly recommend you book yourself in. If you’ve been to Mr Fogg’s, another cocktail bar run by the same group, you’ll have a slight idea what you’ll be in for. Although I do think Cahoots does the theatrics with a little more enthusiasm and what can be more London than an Underground theme!

Cahoots is open Monday – Wednesday 5pm – 1am, Thursday-Friday 5pm – 2am, Saturday 5pm – 3am and Sunday 5pm – 12am. You’ll find the bar here.

After a long time away from proper cocktails I’ve certainly got a thirst for more. Do you have any recommendations?

In a city that gets little sleep, it’s no wonder that there’s a growing number of high-quality coffee shops helping to fuel London’s inhabitants. Whilst many of my favourites close their doors shortly after office hours, I recently discovered the perks of Soho Grind (sibling of the better known Shoreditch Grind) by day and by night. Making the tricky transition look easy.

Mid-morning, mid-week, Soho, I found myself in need of caffeine and a treat. It had been a while since I’d been somewhere new so I tracked down one of the latest additions to the Grind & Co family along Beak Street. Its old school cinema-style signage, street art and elements of red is a big hint towards its East London heritage.

I ordered my usual cappuccino and pain au chocolat and sat by the window. Soho is a great place to people watch as the streets barely stop with passing workers and visitors, but I was also lucky enough to enjoy the warmth of a glowing autumnal morning.

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Each branch offers the group’s own coffee blend, roasted exclusively and delivered to site every few days. And yes it is pretty tasty.

It’s a compact coffee shop, offering a small collection of seats upstairs, making it best for solo visits, small groups and takeaways.

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But whilst visiting I spotted its downstairs den, better for groups and the evening offerings I’d heard about.

I don’t usually drink coffee later in the day but London Cocktail Week called and I spotted Soho Grind on the list. I couldn’t resist finding out how the evening compares to the day and sampling its Espresso Martini for just £4. (More on LCW 2014 to come!)

Down in the basement you’ll find low leather booths and tall stools, opposite a well-stocked bar.

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Like upstairs it’s compact, but downstairs its cosy with low lights and candles. I’d persuaded Lucinda (who’s more of a tea/cocktail drinker) to join me. We ordered our Espresso Martinis and a small charcuterie plate. Food demolished in minutes, here’s the prettier order of the evening.

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As someone who loves tea and coffee but is never quite sure about chilled options, this went down rather well. Smooth and not too strong, you get a nice caffeine buzz with a side of evening alcohol.

Soho Grind proves coffee shops can do day and night as well as a restaurant, true to its own style throughout. I’d definitely recommend it for an hour of daydreaming and watching the world go by, or to take a friend or date for a relaxed evening drink.

Have you found a place in the city you’ve enjoyed by day and by night?

It’s no secret that I love a tasty cocktail and London provides an endless supply of cocktail hours. So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that the clever people behind my favourite coffee app joined forces with the knowledgeable Gin Monkey to bring the city – London’s Best Cocktail Bar app. Cleverly launched just before one of the year’s cockail highlights, London Cocktail Week, and currently only £1.99, I felt compelled to push back this week’s post and share this app with fellow cocktail lovers.

So why the excitement? Well life in London is busy and whilst I’ve got the hang of scouring my favourite websites, if there’s anything that can inspire my evening at the tip of my fingers I am all for it. I’ve been a fan of London’s Best Coffee app for a while so having London’s Best Cocktail Bars is its perfect companion.

Picture the dilemma, you’re out for impromptu drinks and everyone fancies a cocktail. Of course you can go for B@1 happy hour but you want something a little better. Open the app and you get all the nearest cocktail bars.

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Or you’ve got a date and you want to impress. Open the app and select ‘Rated’ to find all the best bars in town.

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For each bar you get a brief review, a rating and basically all the details you need to decide whether it’s worth checking it out.

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There’s also a handy news section updating you on recent launches and news from the industry…

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A section to bookmark all your favourite finds…

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And an interactive map.

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This may sound like a sales pitch but I genuinely get excited about cocktails and good apps, so when they combine…

To download the app click here. (Sadly it’s not available for Android yet, but if you ask Blue Crow Media nicely – who knows! 🙂 Or you could this cocktail thirsty map instead)

Do you love a good cocktail? Are you going to London Cocktail Week?

PS. If you’ve not heard about London Cocktail Week you can find more information on their website, and from my previous posts here and here.