When it comes to looking for the perfect place to celebrate this Christmas – a few things, for me come into play. 1. The people you are celebrating with, 2. the ambience, 3. the food and of course, the all-important question… 4. do they serve the perfect Christmas Cocktail?!
But does the perfect Festive Cocktail even exist?!
This is the question I asked myself this weekend, as I went out, armed with fellow blogger and avid cocktail lover Sian from Sian Lifts Weights. We are both major Grinch’s and known as the Christmas Scrooges in our respective offices – but determined to shake things up and finally get in the Christmas mood, we decided to do it in the best way possible. Through our love of good food and even better cocktails.
We went to twitter and asked for the best festive cocktails around London ready for this post, and although we were presented with some gorgeous, some unique and some downright incredible concoctions, in some fantastic places, none really honed down that ultimate Christmas cocktail feel for us. So even though they tasted fantastic and some scored a highly respected 5/5 from both sides, something Christmassy was lacking. We wanted cinnamon, and spice for that home-made gingerbread feel, we wanted peppermint and sugar for that candy cane recreation, we wanted our childhood memories encapsulated in a glass – maybe we were asking too much (?!)
What we were faced with, were gorgeous cocktails, each expertly made, but captioned with a ridiculous Christmas pun to make it seem relevant and trendy and getting our hopes up that we had ‘finally found the one’. We were left disappointed by the festivities, but made up by the deliciousness. So, bars not only across London, but across the world – I’m asking you, step away from the ridiculous names and stand by your guns. You make the world’s best cocktails – and you know it, by speaking to your creators, your managers and your PR’s you know it – you don’t need a festive name to sell it.
So, in honour of this night, and the horrific hangover I had to deal with in the morning, here are the best alternative Christmas party locations, serving some sassy AF cocktails, in case you just wanted to shake it up a lil’ like us, or just looking for somewhere to celebrate.
The Sophisticated Lunch: Aubaine, Selfridges
Aubaine is the perfect combination of the French classic style with modern creativity. With some of the best chefs across the world, nothing screams sophistication like a lunch at Aubaine. With over 8 to choose from in London – we opted for the beautiful Selfridges store. Tucked away on the 2nd floor, the Selfridges Aubaine does not disappoint. It’s best-loved and IG-worthy wisteria flowers hang delicately across the back of the store, and the Christmas feel at this time of year is elevated across the entire venue donning pine cones and fake snow.
The menu is complete with light dishes and deli creations perfect for a lunch-time dine, all the way through to larger dishes and their incredible bakery – and with their new Christmas Collection just launched, who could say no to a little slice of Christmas?
Perfectly paired with a Seasonal G+T. Gin and cinnamon come together in this festive style, topped with a light and bubbly cucumber and watermelon tonic for that real fizz with a difference.
Or why not just go classic with their best-loved Mimosa?!
The Buffet Style: Tibits, Bankside
Nothing says Christmas quite like a buffet. A little bit of this, and a little bit of that. Christmas is all about the good food, the good company and the good tidings. Tibits does all that, and more. Their ‘fill your plates up’ motto, is one close to my heart, and their incredibly healthy vegan, veggie and gluten free food is good for all of our hearts.
Their new winter menu has just launched (I will be doing a full post on this at a later date) at their beautiful venue at Bankside, complete with their Christmas tree in the conservatory and festive choices all round make for the perfect party setting. Grab a plate, fill er’ up and get stuck in. You only pay for what you put on your plate, which makes this the perfect place for larger groups of people who all have different food tastes and appetites.
Finish the meal with a gorgeous egg-nog inspired chai latte, or go for something a little more naughty in the style of their mulled wine, beautifully warmed through, topped with plenty of orange zest and cinnamon spice, and a little hint of whisky in the back-ground to really warm those winter days.
The After Work One: Café Pacifico, Covent Garden
Nestled in the heart of Covent Garden you will find a gorgeous Mexican restaurant that offers homemade comfort food with a little bit of spice and award-winning Margaritas to really give you that vibrant taste of Mexico right there in the middle of the city. Which makes this the perfect, relaxed vibe for any after work celebrations.
Their menu is exactly the type of warming, comfort and home-feel that you expect for this time of year. From the moment you walk in the door you feel right at home in their spirited and lively establishment.
Choose between dishes such as their Mexican platters complete with quesadillas, Tlacoyos and empanadas or why not go for the dip with nachos and gauc?! But whatever you do – make sure to pair it with their award-winning and best-loved rumble which is a Jose Cuervo Tradicional Silver tequila – their own brand, topped with fresh passion fruit and a chilli and salt rimmed glass, which you will never want to stop. The combination of all flavours really balances the glass to get you cheers’in the entire night.
Fancy something a little bit lighter? Then their hibiscus and vanilla ‘The Estes’ (which comes in its very own copper mug, that you can take home as an extra little Christmas gift) is for you. Half sweet, half sour, all the fun.
The One with Friends: Be at One, Farringdon
Be at One, has over 33 stores across London which means that it is always the perfect choice for any celebration, at any time, and at any place… They tell you to leave the outside world behind and join them with their energetic and skilled bartenders as you choose one of their expertly made and crafted cocktails. Which they do not disappoint on at all.
Be at One is known as the neighbourhood’s favourite cocktail bar – where all the cool kids hang out, which makes this the perfect, grab yo’ friends and celebrate in style.
Feeling sassy? Why not try their Little Igloo – created with Mumm Rose Champagne and Crème de Cassis, the ultimate Festive treat.
Or why not spice up the classic and Get Blitzen’d, which combines Hendricks Gin with Lemon and Rhubarb syrup. Which was my fave, it’s sweet but not overpowering and has a very nostalgic Rhubarb and Custard sweet taste to it.
Other Festive concoctions come in the form of their Dash to Lapland – an amero and rye whisky combo. And two Monkey Shoulder Whiskey makes, Spirit of Xmas Past and Swinging around the Xmas Tree.
The Downright Sassy: The Trading House, Bank
The cities best kept secret, and one of my all-time favourite venues – The Trading House in Bank is tucked away on Gresham Street and is packed full of incredible and peculiar eccentricities. Their cocktail menu is just as impressive as the building which has kept its natural architectural structure and design of its former resident including the high ceilings, spiral staircase and dark walls making this a place for the trendy, the sassy and the down-right vibrant.
Known for it’s delicious and innovative cocktails, extensive beer and wine list and dedicated bar staff, the Trading House, part of the New World Trading Group – the award-winning pub group across the UK is the place for any type of festivities.
Chill at the bar, relax with friends or dance the night away to their insane selection of live music nights. Or why not try out their infamous Gin, Beer and Ale or Cocktail Masterclasses, where you will learn the history, the techniques and get to sample some of their best-loved creations, including my go-to the End’s of the Earth, a twist on the classic Pina Colada, topped with a coconut marshmallow treat… because it is Christmas after-all!