I love looking out at the sea. The beach is where I get inspired to write.
Reminiscent of what could have been a wartime air shelter, this weekend saw Shoreditch play host to The Blitz Party. You may frown upon hearing the name of the event and possibly think it slightly disrespectful of the 1940’s London bombings by the Luftwaffe. One thing is quite clear upon entering the event, and that is the celebration of life and another era. The Blitz party brings sophistication with a nostalgic glance at the past and its attempts at joviality.
I can only imagine that the Second World War wasn’t all glam and glitz, but what The Blitz Party makes evident is that even in times of struggle there was a strong British morale that never got lost. The Village Underground venue is hidden away on a street in Shoreditch, being marked by subtle sandbags outside the entrance. It’s quite clear this is the right venue as you could see a gathering of people that look like they don’t belong in the 21st century. Tweed waist coats, hats, army officers, naval officers and ladies in A-line dresses with red lipstick and quaffed hair were congregated outside.
Red lighting climbed up the raw brick walls and into every crevice in the interior surface of the venue. The high-walls are masked with black-out curtains and upon them were hung posters boosting British morale. What makes the venue is the swing dance hall and live music stage, especially the stocking-clad ladies and soldiers swing dancing all over the place. You can see a lot of whizzing feet, hear the heart-felt laughter and lose yourself in the headiness of the moment.
Behind the bar there were dapper bartenders dressed in waistcoats with silver tights and an ability to mix some delicious cocktails. Bourne and Hollingsworth have done a wonderful job providing the hearty British ale and champagne. If you want to truly indulge in the giddiness of the moment go for one of the many gin based cocktails on the menu. Keeping with the theme the menus are designed as ration books. The Raspberry Collings included shaken up gin and raspberries with sugar and sharp citrus. The cocktails are served long and short, plus there’s a slight theme of citrusy flavours taking a hold of the menu. For something a little different there was the rum based Mary Pickford, including Golden Rum shaken with pineapple and pomegranate.
The bar itself was lit up by spot-lighting, as was the main stage. Sandbags were placed around strategically to create a distinct space for the bar. As the theme was quite clear it wasn’t a shock that the drinks were served in mugs as well as glasses, adding an extra touch of authenticity. The Blitz Party pulled out all the stops, including boosting morale with posters, using a projector on the wall to portray important images, lighting in the form of simple light bulbs hanging from the high arches, and even providing hair stylists to perfect your quaffed hair.
This was a night that allowed people to let their hair down, their legs to flay around to swing music and for a look-back at what British strength encompassed.
The night will transport you to a wartime air shelter complete with sandbags, black out curtains and military bunkbeds. It doesn’t end there as you’ll also get exclusive use of the shelter’s swing dance hall and live music stage. Enter this trendy Shoreditch venue for a night that guarantees to take you back in time.This is an occasion to dress to the nines in your polka dots, quaffed hair and uniforms. So make sure you leave any jeans and trainers at home, this night is for the truly historic. Get your ticket now for £25 at theblitzparty.com. Go along and indulge in some of Bourne & Hollingworth’s hearty British ale and champagne, along with the best musical tunes from the 40’s.
Known as one of the most elegant and prestigious hotels in the heart of Central London, you’ll find The Savoy hidden away in the Embankment area. As a teaser for The WestEnders’ upcoming shows The Savoy hosted a unique night of musical performances, delicious drinks and rooftop travel around London’s celebrated theatres.
The evening kicked off in The Savoy’s exclusive Museum Bar with a range of Chambord cocktails being offered. These were served from a small window bar surrounded by impeccable décor. The WestEnders gave us a short glimpse of the scale of their talent in the bar as a preview to what’s to come on the bus tour.
The WestEnders feature six talented singers, each with a wealth of experience under their belt. Some of the most prominent and popular West End shows they’ve appeared in are Beauty and the Beast, Les Miserables, Miss Saignon, Aspects of Love, Oliver!, Crazy For You and many other remarkable shows. Under the musical direction of Jae Alexander, The WestEnders have brought together the very best of your favourite songs and will be holding performances at The Savoy’s Thames Foyer.
The evening upon the double-decker Routemaster started as the engine was switched on and The WestEnders began to sing. Applause must go out to the pianist Mark, who had the ability to commandeer the piano while sitting at the top of a double-decker that made its way over London’s bumps.
Whilst The WestEnders entertained us The Savoy had provided unique canapés for the ride. The first to arrive was the Asparagus Garden, which included carrots and shavings of dried olives. The asparagus itself was creamed and designed to look as if it was a garden growing vegetables. Another of my favourites was the Caesar Salad along with a sweet dessert of pistachio and lemon flavoured macarons.
The balmy night and revered talent lent itself to a relaxed and jovial night atop the Routemaster. The bus itself was the perfect aesthetic for the night, with a half-cab, front-mounted engine and open-rear platform taking us back to the 1950s and 60s.
This wonderful evening at The Savoy was a great teaser to what’s in store. You’ll find The WestEnders’ Linda Jarvis, Jill Nalder, Frances Fry, Stephen Weller, Andrew Newey and Adrian Grove performing in the decadent surroundings of The Savoy throughout summer and autumn. On these sought-after evenings guests will be treated to beautifully prepared meals and cocktails in the exquisite Thames Foyer, previously the hangout of Marilyn Monroe, The Beatles, Barbara Streisand Bette Middler and many more.
Throughout various Sundays you’ll find the entertainment starting at 8pm and the ticket price of £25 includes a Chambord cocktail. Enter The Savoy’s vibrant history and submerge yourself in its past of theatrical excellence with The WestEnders.
In the heart of the financial district you will find HOP, a concept that delivers authentic food and a relaxed atmosphere for those who need to make a quick food stop. The five fundamental tastes of Vietnamese food come through in each dish’s distinctive flavour. Serving from breakfast through lunch, you’ll find that this Vietnamese street food is a great addition to Square Mile.
In the thrumming midst of lunchtime rush hour you won’t be waiting for too long in the queue and might even find that the seating becomes quickly available. Even though HOP is centred on the concept of ‘Com Binh Dan’ or ‘Working People Food’, you’ll find an array of people circulating in and out of this establishment. From pristine suits to the trickle of style coming from Shoreditch, here’s a popular spot on Square Mile that not only welcomes everyone but is also somewhere you can be at ease.
The service may be quick and efficient but that does not go to say it lacks in warmth or humour. The staff are delightful, honest and truly seem like they’re enjoying their role and the place they work in. Launched on the 15th of June, HOP has already attracted many City workers to its Vietnamese den. The creator of HOP, Paul Hopper, had travelled around Vietnam and was inspired by delectable cuisine he had discovered on his journey. This creative and adventurous appeal has also been extended to the patterned boxes and pots that HOP’s food is served in, including its vibrant, light and welcoming interior.
At HOP you’ll find a great variety of things to pick up and go, whether you’re looking for a filling hot meal, a crunchy and unique salad or small snack pots to treat yourself throughout the day. The Mixed Vietnamese Greens and Herbs (£2.50) is a snack pot with lime and maple dressing that offers a mixture of textures, combining layers of crunchy and soft to your palette. If you’re looking for something a little more filling go for the Lemongrass Chicken (£6.75) which includes coriander, lemongrass, caramelised onions, steamed rice, shredded salad, pickled and green veg. The chicken was tender with a slight chew, and the lemongrass sauce went perfectly with the pickled carrots.
Vegetarians have the option of the Vegetable and Herb Curry (6.50) made of coconut, chilli, turmeric and peanuts. The curry itself wasn’t too spicy and the ingredients offered subtle flavours without overpowering each other. There’s a bit of a theme going on with the salad. Each dish has a similar salad of pickled and green veg with grated carrots. Fans of vermicelli rice noodles will love the salads on offer at HOP. The Garlic Chive Omelette (£6.25) with lime and maple dressing allows for a lot of crunch with your salad by mixing herbs and crispy salad leaves with thin and light noodles.
The sweet pots are a must as every meal deserves a dessert. The Chocolate and Coconut rice pudding pot, which is around £3.25, will put a whole new spin on your taste buds. The ingredients in this sweet pot mingle together in a surprising mix with sharp notes of chilli. It is the perfect remedy for someone with a sweet tooth and you’d have to try it to truly believe it. Use HOP’s lemonade as a refreshing palette cleanser before dipping into something different. Here you also have the option of drinking a few of their special juices. One of the juices includes kiwi and kale, giving you a bounce and boost for your day.
The concept of quick and delicious Vietnamese food for workers has been applied with a lot of thought at HOP, making it a fun environment to eat in. Before you leave make sure you try HOP’s very own Viet Drip Coffee (£2.50), it is a bit like a mocha but sweeter, smoother and a lot tastier.
Head to the depths of East London for the transformation of Bourne & Hollingsworth into Playback: The 90s party. Immerse yourself into the fashion, music and film that lifted the generation and marked the decade as its own. You’ll be able to go back in time at this warehouse venue on the 4th of July.
The true sounds, beats and vibes of the decade will surround you in this ultimate 90s party scene. The party taking place at Hackney’s The Laundry will be decked out with an arcade games room inspired by the era of the Nintendo, dance podiums fit for the very best, and a huge screen showcasing popular 90s classic films of all time.
Start your night at Playback: The 90s Party where you’ll be shown how to flip, throw and mix two popular cocktails- a delicious Pina Colada or Cosmo. For dance enthusiasts there will be time to showcase your skills from sliding to Jamiroquai and vogueing to Madonna, to doing the running man and testing your head banging skills to the best tunes being played. If you’re not too sure what these dance moves are then even better, you can find out and join in on the day for the ultimate 4th of July party.
Whether you’re planning on putting your skills to the test in the games room, shaking your body ‘till the lights come on or exploring the expert cocktails by Bourne & Hollingsworth, the entire night will take you back down memory lane.
Head to 4 Sidworth St for a night to remember and don’t forget to dress the part. That means throwing on your brightest shade of red lip liner, slip dresses, ripped jeans and Adidas tracksuits. You’re set for a night to remember.
Have you heard of THE GRAPHIC GIN OFF? If not then get yourself down to the gin experts in Soho for some tough competition. On the 2nd of June Graphic, a bar hosting ground-breaking urban art, kicked off a three-part gin tournament at number 4 Golden Square.
Some of the best and exciting gin brands turned up for the first day to be allocated their round ‘fixtures’. Imagine the FA Cup, but for gin and much more thirst quenching. The first round of the gin battle kicks off on the 22nd of June, with bar tenders provided by each individual brand who will create a representative cocktail for participants to vote. A few of the brands showcasing their leading gins are Sipsmith London Dry Gin, Elephant Gin, Jameson Gin and Martine Millers.
This summer will show the brands battle it out in Graphic for the number one spot. The semi-final will take place in September where the qualifiers will wow us with their very own cocktail creations. Then you’ve got the heated final taking place in November, where the two remaining brands will have perfected their methods for a fighting chance as the winner.
If you’re a gin lover then Graphic Bar holds hundreds of impressive gin labels, and combines different flavours and tastes to offer you the ultimate gin experience. From an astounding and vibrant menu to prestigious brands and variations of flavour, Graphic Bar has it all.
Hidden away, south of the river, in North Clapham you’ll find Fu Manchu at 15-16 Lendal Terrace. This dim sum and cocktail bar will allow you to be served from inside the belly of Fu Manchu, the famous Chinese master criminal introduced by Sax Rohmer in his early 20th Century cult novels. If you’re looking for a bar scene that will easily smooth into a nightclub then Fu Manchu will be your favourite new addiction.
Once you enter this cave-like setting you’ll find a wall-length bar on your left, but just before that there’s a striking image of the legendary Fu Manchu himself. This artistic piece adds a certain graphic edge to the dramatic setting as the eyes of the master watch your every move. The smell of incense will ignite your desire to get lost in the past of Fu Manchu’s explosive criminal plots.
My favourite piece of furnishing would have to be the golden Buddha hidden away in the corner near some cosy seating. Everything about this setting screams mystery and drama, which is lit up under striking light installation created by Lighting Designer Louisa Smurthwaite. The specific aesthetic pieces dotted around the room aren’t overdone and the exquisiteness is in the small details, such as the subtle candles on every table. The raw brick work finishes off the setting as you revel and dance away under old railway arches.
This joint is perfect for those looking to unwind after work in a friendly but buzzing atmosphere. The vibe can go from chilled to pumped as the DJs take to the turntable, and it also helps that the drinks live up to their namesakes. Each cocktail creation has been inspired by Fu Manchu’s shady associates and elaborate criminal plots. The variety on offer can be overwhelming but when you see how they are created and how skilfully the bar team handle the crowd, you’ll be wanting to try every single one.
My favourite would have to be Yuzu-Zu for £8.50 and Lady Jasmin for £9. Yuzu-Zu is a heady combination of sweet Swedish Cariel Vanilla Vodka, Cointreau, tangy lemon juice, Angostura bitter and magical egg white shaken with yuzu tea paste. Yuzu is a rare citrus fruit from Japan which tastes like a mix of lemon, mandarin and grapefruit. You can taste the burst of these flavours in the Yuzu-Zu but with more of a subtle twist- sweetened by Cointreau and the egg white creating a rich, creamy texture finished off with a beautiful foamy cap.
The most elegant cocktail, named Lady Jasmin, is a floral twist on the classic white lady cocktail. It has been shaken up with sweet Jasmin syrup, Bombay Sapphire gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, egg white and Angostura bitters. The addition of Angostura bitters and Jasmin syrup transforms this cocktail, balancing its flavours and adding new dimension and depth. The egg white in Lady Jasmin gives way to an even foamier and thicker finish than the Yuzu-Zu, garnished with what looks like the petals of a Pansy or a similar flower.
Another cocktail you must try is the Dragon Fruit Palamo, an infusion of Sauza Hacienda tequila, Cocchi Americano Vermouth and lime juice, garnished with a delicious pink and white dragon fruit. For something with more of a kick go for Smith’s Summer Spritz, a combination of Smith’s Spritz mix shaken with lemon and apple juice and fresh lime leaves topped with sparkling prosecco. Fu Manchu’s cocktails are made from Chinese tea infusions, Asian spices and exotic flavours.
To complement their noteworthy cocktail menu is their Dim Sum selection. Take a bite into their steamed or fried savoury dumplings. I’d recommend the Sui Mai, which is a prawn and chicken open dumpling for £4 or the Har Gau for £4.50 which is king prawn dumplings in a sticky translucent skin. Remember to bite into your Dim Sum as soon as it arrives, as the flavour is at its best when heated. Your Dim Sum will arrive in cute wicker baskets to help keep the temperature.
Head down to Fu Manchu every Friday night for the Yao Down Project with Jonathan Bestley and guests who will be bringing you the best in Nu Disco and Deep House until 3am. Every Saturday you’ll be able to loosen up to tech and deep house sets played by resident innovative DJs, Melvo Baptise, Russ Jay and Jedd Burry.
Fu Manchu is the ultimate triple threat, you’ll be eating delicious Dim Sum, drinking inspired and exotically flavoured cocktails, and dancing within what will feel like the villainous master’s very own den shrouded in mystery.