Tired of London, Tired of Life - One thing a day to do in London

A website about things to do in London

Showing posts with label Alcoholic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alcoholic. Show all posts

8 February 2011

Sample the wines at Bottle Apostle

Day two of Hackney week, and it's time for a look at Bottle Apostle, a fantastic little wine shop, offering all sorts of wines and beers, as well as wine tasting courses, a supper club and other events.


Try-before-you-buy wine sampling is available whenever the shop is open, with a wide range of wines available to taste, courtesy of the shop's self-service Enomatic machines, which dispense wine directly from the bottle (for a small fee of between 43p and £4ish).

Upcoming events include a tasting session covering the Fine Wines of Western Australia, an Oyster Night, an introduction to Champagne, and - in May - a six week wine course, which costs £225. They also do beers from Meantime in Greenwich for just over £2 and a decent bottle of Prosecco for about a tenner.

Bottle Apostle is on Lauriston Road in Hackney, For more information, visit http://www.bottleapostle.com/

^Picture © Steve Calcott used under Creative Commons^

14 January 2011

Infiltrate the Stafford's Wine Cellars

Your author has written about the Stafford Hotel in Mayfair before, when he visited their famous American Bar, but the hotel has another special secret. Below an old stable yard lies their 350-year-old stone wine cellar, created by Lord Francis Godolphin and, the hotel claims, home to between 18,000 and 20,000 bottles, making it one of the most complete wine collections in London.


The wines include Château Lafite Rothschild 1961 and 1976, a Château Leoville Poyferre 1978, and 'approximately 800 labels', all watched over by Master Sommelier Gino Nardella. If you are lucky, you might be able to persuade him to take you on a tour of the hotel's $1m collection, and very special guests might even get invited to dine down here.

The cellars were, your author understands, also used during the Second World War to shelter during air raids, and a collection of memorabilia from that period is also held in the cellar, as a memorial of that time.

For more information on the cellars, click here.

13 December 2010

Investigate the Malt Whisky Room at the Vintage House

Situated at 42 Old Compton Street, in the heart of Soho, the Vintage House is a family business, founded during the Second World War. The quintessential off-licence, it is excellently stocked, claiming to offer the World's largest list of malt whiskies.


During his time here, owner Malcolm Mullin has, apparently, sold wine to The Beatles and cigars to Angelina Jolie, mixed with legendary London gangsters, been shot at, and had a front row seat on all goings on in Soho for nearly forty years.

Alongside the whiskies, which are mostly to be found in a special room at the back of the store, the Vintage House also sells Armagnacs dating back as far as 1879, and an excellent range of fine wines, Cuban cigars, Liqueurs and other spirits.

Prices are as you might expect in this area of town, but if you're looking for something special for Christmas it is an excellent bet. For more information, click here.

10 December 2010

Sip cocktails in a caravan at Barrio North

When the people who designed Barrio North, a 'neighbourhood DJ bar' in Islington, were looking to decorate their bar, they settled on a rather left-field seating solution. They installed a caravan.


Billed on the bar's website as 'La Carvana', a mis-spelling of the Spanish Caravana, it started life in 1976 as an 2-birth ACE touring caravan, before being snapped up on ebay and installed in a bar on Essex road to seat up to 15 people whilst they neck cocktails in what is cringingly referred to in decorations as an 'alcoholiday'.

It's an interesting feature, and the bar is reasonable, as long as you're there during one of their regular happy hours, though annoyingly they make you 'join' the bar to take advantage.

For more on the Caravan, visit http://www.barrionorth.com/bookings.php, but make sure your speakers are turned down first.

24 March 2010

Drink at Pepito, London's only specialist Sherry Bar

Your author was invited to the opening of Bar Pepito, London’s only dedicated sherry bar, last week, and it was jolly pleasant. The tiny bar bills itself as 'a must visit for any sherry lover' and stocks plenty of different types of sherry.


The focus of the bar is, we are told, on bringing an authentic spirit of Jerez to Kings Cross, and it is nice enough. Calling it a bar in its own right is a bit of spin as the space, sat in shiny Varnishers Yard, is technically an offshoot of Spanish restaurant Camino. However, it just about holds its own (even if you do have to pop over to the restaurant to use the toilets), serving sherry and tapas from a menu designed by Camino head chef Nacho del Campo.

Your author must admit he was basically a sherry novice on arrival but the experience was rather pleasant even if he couldn't hack the sweet sherries for long. In order to help you to experience all the different types of sherries, they've even installed one of those new Enomatic machines (like at the Sampler and Bottle Apostle). It's an open stainless-steel chiller cabinet holding eight bottles of sherry, allowing you to try a tasting amount of several different types, without having to take on a full glass.

In the press release, Camino owner, Richard Bigg optimistically bleats that "Sherry is cool again". Your author will need a little more convincing, but Bar Pepito will certainly help it along. The bar is open Wednesday to Saturday, 5pm - midnight. For more see http://www.camino.uk.com/pepito

30 January 2010

Go to a wine tasting at Harrods

Harrods food halls are as famous as the rest of the store for the depth and breadth of their offerings. You can get almost anything in the world you want if you have enough money to spend, so it should be no surprise that their wine cellar is also well stocked, and they want to show it off.


The wine tasting events at Harrods are monthly, and offer you the chance to taste a different type or region of wine each month, with a selection of canapés and the chance to pick up certain wines at an exclusive 10% discount. Your author still thinks it will all still be terribly expensive.

Tickets to wine tastings cost £25 per person. For more information, and to book, call 020 7893 8777, or see the Harrods website here.

^Picture by sonictk^

6 August 2009

Drink with beardy old men

The Great British Beer Festival, organised by the Campaign for Real Ale, has been running since the late 1970s, offering beardy real ale fans their dream combination of around 450 different beers alongside pub games, live music, pies, pasties and all kinds of pub snacks.


It's not just for sandal-wearing middle aged men with an interest in steam trains, however, and when your author popped by for a couple of hours yesterday the clientèle was a rich and varied tapestry of beer fans, some of whom were even female. However, it should be said that the weather was much better outside than in the dull shed-like Earls Court Exhibition Centre, and this is probably not the place for teetotallers.

Even so, it is a fairly entertaining destination for beer-drinkers in poor weather, and there are certainly a lot of beers on offer (though more should be from Gloucestershire). Entry is £10 on the door and tomorrow is wackily themed as 'hat day'.

The Great British Beer Festival runs until Saturday at Earls Court Exhibition Centre. For more information visit the website at http://gbbf.camra.org.uk

24 May 2009

Go to a pub in Cambridgeshire

It's one of many people's favourite odd London facts but the Mitre, on the tiny Ely Court off Ely Place, is a lovely little hidden pub which is technically in Cambridgeshire.


This stems from the former Palace of the Bishops of Ely, which was nearby and meant that the Bishops were granted jurisdiction over the surrounding area, meaning that it was technically Cambridgeshire, and not London at all. The current pub is from around 1772, around the time that the palace was demolished, but a Mitre has existed on the site for around 200 years longer than that.

For more on the fascinating history of this area and pub, including the inability of the City of London Police Force to follow criminals into the area, read a great article on Time Out here.

^Picture from Flickr courtesy of acme^

14 May 2009

Visit the home of alternative comedy

Though The Comedy Store is named after a comedy club in California, it is a very British institution, has been in existence since it was formed above a Soho strip club in 1979, and is still very much a centre of stand up comedy in the UK.


London is undoubtedly the world capital of stand up, and The Comedy Store became a heart of alternative comedy scene in the 80s and has remained so ever since. Anyone who is anyone in stand up has performed in the comedy store, including Mike Myers, Alexei Sayle, Adrian Edmondson, Ben Elton, The Mighty Boosh, Mark Thomas, Jo Brand, Bill Bailey, Rik Mayall, Phil Jupitus, Paul Merton, Keith Allen, and Rich Hall, and hundreds more.

It's home to both the Legendary Comedy Store Players and Cutting Edge, who offer a more satirical slant, though both have changed their line ups as time goes by.

Unlike much of the West End, it's not even prohibitively expensive, though you will generally pay around £15-£20 for a ticket. Nevertheless, it's usually good value, but try not to fall asleep in the midnight as some of your author's friends have been known to do.

For more information, visit http://www.thecomedystore.co.uk.

^Picture from a flickr original courtesy of wonderferret^

25 April 2009

Have a drink on the Inn the Park roof terrace

Inn the Park, in St James' Park, is yet another distinctive Peyton and Byrne establishment, with it's own brand of overpriced tourist fare produced to a reasonably high standard.


On a sunny day, however, it does make a lovely spot for a drink, and has a nice roof terrace which offers a welcome escape from the Westminster crowds. As always with tourist hotspots, drinks are particularly expensive, but it's a lot more pleasant here than cramming yourself into the Chandos of a summer's evening, so many will think it is worthwhile, even if you take into account the dredging works on the nearby lake.

For more information on the food and drink on offer, visit the website at http://www.innthepark.com/.

Click here to view the location on a map.

^Picture from flickr courtesy of King Chung Huang^

30 March 2009

Drink in Mark Twain, Alfred Tennyson and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's local

Down an alleyway marked by a distinctive sign on Fleet Street, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is another good Sam Smiths pub with another good story. The pub was one of the first to be rebuilt after the Great Fire of London and is recorded as existing on this site for more than 100 years before, and even earlier as a guest house belonging to a nearby Carmelite Monastery. Indeed, the pub was famously referred to in Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities.


Legendary regulars include Oliver Goldsmith, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Alfred Tennyson and Mark Twain, as well as Dr. Samuel Johnson whose quote gave this site its title. It is also another listed in CAMRA's Regional Inventory for London, Pub Interiors of Special Historic Interest, which is generally a yardstick of interesting pubs.

Inside, the lack of natural light only adds to the experience and dulls the senses to make Samuel Smith's brews taste as best they can. It certainly has a charm and is a Central London pub with less crowds and more authenticity than most. Its so authentic your author even swears there was sawdust on the ground at the last visit to absorb spit and spillages.

For more information visit the page on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ye_Olde_Cheshire_Cheese.

Click here to see the location on a map.

^Picture from flickr courtesy of Tjeerd^

14 March 2009

Drink at London's oldest Wine Bar

A long time favourite haunt of civil servants and those who work around Charing Cross/Covent Garden, Gordon's Wine Bar is an institution, and benefits from being one of the best pubs in the area.


Established in 1890, Gordon's is certainly the oldest wine bar in London, and possibly the oldest in the world. Now owned by Wendy Gordon, the wife of the late Luis Gordon, who was responsible for much of the bars current reputation, the bar was first set up by an Arthur Gordon in 1890, though the current Gordon family aren't related to him.

The building in which Gordon's is situated was home to Samuel Pepys in the 1680s, and Rudyard Kipling in the 1890s, as a tenant in the parlour above the bar. As a whole the building used to be a riverside warehouse, but this ceased in 1864 when the embankment was built and the building was landlocked.

The bar is reasonably hard to spot if you don't know it's there as it involves going through and anonymous looking door off Villiers Street, or down a side street, but once you're inside it is almost always packed out.

One caution for the uninititated is that Gordon's only sells wines and fortified wines, so you should not expect beer or spirits on your visit. Both are, however, served in ample portions in a cellared atmosphere which is virtually unrivalled in this area of London, so this is something to be thankful for. There is also the option of a range of cheese and meat-based food, should you work up a hunger. On Sundays there is also a substantial roast.

All in all, Gordon's is unrivalled, and we are lucky to have it. Long may it survive, unchanged and unchallenged. The Gordon's website alone, at http://www.gordonswinebar.com/, is absolutely intriguing.

Click here to see the location on a map.

^Picture from flickr courtesy of L-plate big cheese^

21 February 2009

Drink Wine from vending machines

The Sampler is a wine shop on Upper Street in Islington which has an ingenious wine sampling system.

The shop claims to have around 1,000 wines from around the world, 80 of which are available for sampling at any time. They manage this through their special vending machines in store which serve small tasting samples so you can check you like a wine before you buy it. Prices for a sample start at less than 50p.

To try the wines you must first register for a smart card and charge it up with a minimum of £10 tasting credit. Then you can get tasting. By simply pushing the button for the wine you want.

There are separate white wine and red wine machines which are changed every 2 - 3 weeks to keep the selection fresh.

The Sampler is a short walk from Highbury and Islington or Angel tube stations.
For more information visit the website at http://www.thesampler.co.uk.

^Picture from flickr courtesy of TheBusyBrain^