Girl About Town, Alexandra Abrahams, continues to relate the happenings from her Birthday Week…
On the Friday of my Birthday Week I opted to go to a gin distillery. Well why not indeed. I like to ensure I don’t run out of gin and where better than an actual distillery. Currently the only working distillery in the city’s Square Mile, the City of London Distillery (COLD) opened last year and employs a unique distillation and infusion process with juniper, coriander, angelica and liquorice alongside pink grapefruit, lemon and orange peel – yum! They also have a unique Master Distiller Jamie Baxter who used to be the Master Distiller for Chase Williams Gin/vodka and is rather excellent. Such a treat to visit a working distillery within a beautiful bar and over 100 gins!
Some of their cocktails included – the Corpse Reviver No 2 (there was one already??!) This is one of the great classics and as Harry Croddock from the Savoy said ‘Four of these taken in swift succession will un-revive the corpse again. City of London gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc and lemon juice served in an Absinthe rimmed glass.
Another amazing classic cocktail included the Ramos Gin Fizz with City of London Dry Gin, orange and lemon juice, cream, sugar, soda water and egg white. The bar team were fantastic particularly Nate and Luis. Just wonderfully knowledgeable team who know everything there is to know about gin / spirits and this amazing bar and working distillery. Highly recommended.
It was then time to descend onto the Shard or rather up the Shard. The Shard. the Shard is an iconic, landmark building dominating the London skyline and designed by Master Architect Renzo Pino. At a height of 1, 016 ft (310 m) it is the tallest building in Western Europe and redefines London’s skyline and is already being recognised throughout the world. We tried some of the marvellous cocktails in Aqua Shard which has a beautiful Restaurant. It was very easy to access the Shard and you don’t even need to travel to the top. The best way is to access the main entrance and just use the Aquashard entrance to the 33rd floor. It certainly feels like you are travelling towards height and gravity! Once you exit you meet hosts who show you the way. I thought it would feel rather ‘formal’ or pretentious but all staff were friendly and you are able to grab a cocktail in the Hutong Bar on the 33rd Floor or Aqua Shard Bar one floor above on the ………floor.
Hutong’s origins begin in Hong Kong with a glitzy, high end Chinese restaurant with incredible views and the London branch is no exception. There is the same Sichuan and Northern Chinese menu, Old Beijing decor and red lanterns. You could almost be in an old Colonial restaurant. I just loved the views and our cocktails!
The cocktails are described as ‘cocktail cures’ using ingredients that Chinese herbal medicine deems good for you. The Chinese believe that there are some medicinal qualities that can cure a range of ailments from abdominal pain, colds or even allergies. We take this with a pinch of salt but I like to believe there are some good qualities in all of these cocktails.
The first one we had was the ‘Comfortably Numb’ with Stolichnaya vanilla, fresh chili, Szechuan pepper honey, lychee liquor, fresh lime juice. It tasted fresh, fruity and had a very slight chilli kick – £12.50. ‘Chinese Lantern’ contained Fresh Mandarin, Aperol, St Germain, passion fruit syrup, plum bitters and Champagne (£14). Apparently Mandarin is good for the ‘treatment of nausea, peptic ulcers and indigestion, allergies, digestive disorders and for it’s healing powers’ I found the prices normal compared to other bars and with such unquestionable views across London – worth every penny.
We were very comfortable in Hutong Bar but decided to venture a couple of levels down to Aqua Shard. We were not tasting food but more the cocktails tonight. Aqua Shard serves innovative, contemporary British cuisine with views to die for once again.
You now feel like you are looking over the whole of London – views are exceptional and you see the view wherever you are seated. However my companion and I chose to sit at the bar and watch the mixologists in action. Here cocktails are certainly more experimental but some of the most unusual and wonderful cocktails I have ever tried.
Some of the cocktails included their ‘Battenberg Martini’ with Vodka, Apricot Brandy, Rubis Chocolate wine, Apricot Jam, tea tincture, egg white and lime juice. Another cocktail was the ‘Skyline Cooler’ with Ketel One Citren Vodka, Cinzano, absinthe, fennel seeds, apple juice, lemon juice and elderflower cordial…
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