The Kenton

The Kenton Mile End beer gardenNothing beats a neighbourhood boozer, and the people of Hackney have a fair few to choose from. Mile End-ers are lucky that The Kenton manages east London cool while bypassing the pretension that often comes along with it. Mixing antiques with modern curiosities, the Norwegian-run pub offers what you’d expect from a local watering hole, along with a couple of surprises along the way. American pale ales are, obviously, on the menu – Dogfish Head DNA most notably – as is Jeremiah Weed and a crowd-pleasing roster of cocktails … Viking Blood, anyone?

Lancashire-based Northern Soul Food provide the grub. Burgers start at £6.50 – amazing – and range from classic cheeseburgers to the likes of The Bambino, containing 100% wild venison with spiced red cabbage, Dijon mustard and cheese. Sunday roasts are provided in-house, too. Well, it wouldn’t be a neighbourhood pub if they didn’t.

The huge range of extra-curricular (the curricular being drinking) activities is impressive. Pop along for a film night, take part in quizzes or try your hand at the Rock N Roll bingo. You can even take advantage of the beer garden which, in the colder months, has blankets to keep punters cosy.

Best Bars tip: Go midweek for Wine Wednesdays, or get out of work quick on Fridays to take part in Rock, Paper, Scissors against the barmen. If you beat them, your drink is half-price. Winner.

— Millie Milliken, @milliemilliken

The Kenton pub Mile End food

Best New Year’s Eve Parties in London

From fireworks spotting to late-night masquerade balls to no-bookings events, we’ve rounded up the BEST New Year’s Eve parties around. Let’s go into 2015 with a bang!

ALTERNATIVE NYE EVENTS

Earlham Street Clubhouse 90s Superhero Party90’s Super Hero Party at Earlham Street Clubhouse
Because this bar knows how to do 90s kitsch right. Come dressed in your finest superhero regalia and find your very own Superman (or woman) to save you at midnight.
Tickets are £15 including entry and complimentary superhero cocktails from 7:30pm-8pm.
7pm-3am. 35 Earlham Street, London, WC2H 9LD

All Star LanesNew Year’s Rockin’ Eve at All Star Lanes 
Retro rock ‘n roll tunes will be spun by the DJ into the wee hours. From funk and soul to DISCO — you’ll be swinging and shaking on AND off the lanes. Dress code is hip cats and dolls, and there’s a £100 bar tab up for grabs if you’ve come in the best fancy dress. Get stuck in to some bowling, boozy shakes, and drag *that* guy or gal into the kissing photo booth for some naughtier fun.
Free entry. New Year’s Eve package is £30 which includes two courses, a glass of prosecco and a game of bowling.
Open until 3am. Various locations.

Bounce Ping Pong HolbornUVNYE at Bounce
Because you might want to let out that competitive spirit to see out 2014. Bounce is a ping pong mecca and the whole place will be lit up by UV lights — so we reckon it’s best to don your whitest whites. There will be unlimited UV ping pong all night (with free play on ALL tables), UV face painters to make you glow, special cocktail prizes for the BEST UV outfits and DJs spinning retro party anthems.
Tickets are £10-£15.
8:30pm-3am. No entry after 11:30pm. 121 Holborn, London, EC1N 2TD.

LAB interiorThat 70’s NYE at LAB
If you fancy a bit of nostalgia, why not boogie on down to renowned cocktail bar LAB (London Academy of Bartenders), famous for being the birthplace of the original Pornstar Martini, for an inspiring 70’s themed party. Expect great cocktails, champagne and bartenders who really know their stuff all to the tune of 70’s classics all night long.
Tickets are £25 for earlybird, £30 for general admission, both including a complimentary cocktail and shooter on arrival.
8pm-3am. 12 Old Compton Street, W1d 4TQ.

CHEAP

The Sun Tavern cocktail high res

NYE at The Sun Tavern
With a host of DJs playing rock n’ roll from every era, new east London hot spot The Sun Tavern offers punch cocktails, classic mixed drinks and fine ales. If you fancy something a bit Irish, they have over 40 different spirits from the land, including whiskies and tasty poitins.
£5 per ticket for guaranteed entry before 9pm. Tickets on sale at the bar.
Open until 3am, 441 Bethnal Green Road, London E2 0AN.

Callooh Callay Shoreditch

New Year’s Eve at Callooh Callay
Head down to this quirky Shoreditch venue, entering a world through a wardrobe reminiscent of a certain C.S. Lewis novel, you will find a transformed dance floor with glitz, glamour and beautifully constructed cocktails within one of the coolest hotspots in the area. Dazzle your way into 2015 with some of the best and deliciously strong cocktails you’re likely to drink anywhere in east London.
Standard entry is £15, with a seat at the main bar costing £20 and upstairs bar seating costing £25.
7pm-2am. 65 Rivington St, London, EC2A 3AY.

The Cat and Mutton NYENew Year’s Eve 2015 at The Cat & Mutton
Party into the wee hours at one of the best East End boozers around. Resident DJs will be on hand to give you the greatest funk, soul and disco tunes all night long. *And tickets are hella cheap.*
Tickets are £5.
Open until 3am. 76 Broadway Market, London, E8 4QJ.

Looking Glass Cocktail Club ShoreditchTry Hard Party at Looking Glass Cocktail Club
Ah Shoreditch. You love it or hate it. But mostly love it. And we can all admit that it’s often filled with one too many “try hards” so here’s your chance to have a go (in the friendliest of ways). So come in your best “try hard” outfit — i.e. like you just rolled out of bed and haven’t bathed in weeks, but your hair is perfectly dishevelled. Performer Maya Petrovna, neo-burlesque artist Lolo Brow and DJ Testu Gomorrah are gonna smash New Year’s Eve and bring Shoreditch its best party yet.
£10 before 10pm, £15 after.
8pm-5am. 49 Hackney Rd, Hackney, London E2 7NX.

FANCY DRESS

london cocktail club oxford circusBlack and Gold Masquerade NYE at London Cocktail Club Oxford Circus
A night of masked men and masked women with classic LCC tunes pumping all night long. If you get in early, you’ll be treated to 2-for-£10 cocktails from 7pm-9pm. And the DJs will be hitting the decks at 10pm.
Tickets are £10-£40 and include various treats.
7pm-3am. 4 Great Portland Street, London W1W 8QJ. 

Kettner's SohoBlack Tie Masquerade Ball at Kettner’s Soho
This is a pricier option, but if you want to get really fancy for New Year’s — then get in here. The opulent Georgian townhouse provides the perfect setting for a masquerade ball, with lots of rooms for exploring (and midnight smooching). Plus there will be cabaret, swing dance lessons, burlesque performances, live music and DJs until 3am.
Tickets are £50-£110, some tickets include cost of three-course dinner.
Doors at 7:30pm-3am. 29 Romilly Street, London, W1D 5HP.

main hall steam and rye cocktail bar london“New York, New York” New Year’s Eve at Steam and Rye
Dazzling dancers and a live band playing all of your favourite American movie soundtrack hits, this is a taste of life in the Big Apple (1920s-style). Whether you just want a bit of a dance, dinner too, or your very own VIP carriage … there’s an option for everyone — just depends on your budget.
Dancing tickets are £20, dinner and dancing tickets are £50-£70, VIP carriages from £500.
6pm-3am. 147 Leadenhall Street, London, EC3V 4QT.

The Blues Kitchen NYE TarantinoTarantino Party at Blues Kitchen Shoreditch
Party down like you’re at Jack Rabbit Slims, with live music, fancy dress, five-dollar shakes and a TWIST CONTEST! And of course DJs will be on hand playing the finest vintage soul and soundtrack tunes until 4am.
Party tickets are £25. Party and dinner tickets are £50.
7pm-4am. 134-136 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3AR.

NO BOOKING REQUIRED

Lost and Found NYENew Year’s Eve at Lost & Found
Classic cocktails, fruity vodka shots and free entry, if that sounds like your cup of tea then why not try this little bar in Balham. Relatively unknown, this cocktail bar has been open just over a year and is the perfect location to enjoy a cool and comfortable evening with tunes pumping until 3am. Plus they have their own vodka luge. Boom!
Free entry.
5pm-3am. 10 Bedford Hill, London SW12 9RG. 

Pub on the park exterior

NYE at Pub on the Park
Watch fireworks at this popular pub on the edge of London Fields, with two DJs spinning some of their best tunes over two floors, prizes and pub ale to enjoy in a huge beer garden (and it’s heated!). Best of all it’s free — and you don’t even have to book.
Free entry.
12pm-2am. 19 Martello St, E8 3PE. 

New cross inn stage

Nightbus to Catford NYE at New Cross Inn
A cheap and alternative way to welcome in 2015. A one-off special with DJs playing motown, ska, northern soul and reggae in south east London, you can turn up without a booking and pay a few quid. Cheap as chips.
£5 entry, £3 before 9pm.
8pm till late. New Cross Inn, 323A New Cross Road, SE14 6AS.

LUXE

Madison's interior Paul Winch-Furness / Photographer
Paul Winch-Furness
Midnight Madness at Madison
For those who fancy an evening of class and entertainment, look no further than Madison for a night of burlesque, cirque de soir acts, DJ superstars and even a string quartet. The night begins with a prosecco reception, canapes throughout the evening, a champagne mini at midnight, evening snacks and one of the very best spots to watch the fireworks.
8pm-2am. Rooftop Terrace, 1 New Change, St Paul’s, London, EC4M 9AF.
Le Pont de la Tour Tower Bridge
Welcome the new year à la française with sophistication and beautiful French cuisine with a six-course menu, including truffles, lobster and foie gras. Earlier seating can secure those with larger purse strings a place on their very own The Eramus to view the famous firework display down the Thames in style. Those who’d like to dine later with feet firmly on the ground can enjoy the same dining experience at a lower cost. There will be live music to accompany your night whilst you sip unlimited champagne all night long.
Until 2am. 36D Shad Thames, London SE1 2YE.
— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips; Nicola Carruthers, @Nik_Carruthers

Original Sin

Original Sin Stoke Newington Road
© Addie Chinn

The guys from Happiness Forgets have spread their magic touch, and this time it’s a slightly bigger (but definitely as beautiful) operation on Stoke Newington Road. Welcome to Original Sin. This basement bar is all dim lighting, cosy booths, free pool and there’s one seriously long bar that begs for you to come perch on.

Drinks are delicious and deceptively simple — meaning it shouldn’t take too long to get a few into your hands. We are partial to the long, refreshing and lightly smoky Sea City with mezcal, cachaca, lemon, agave, salt, mint and soda. For a moreish, spicy and creamy drink, try Mr Sandman with Remy Martin, allspice, lemon, maple syrup, ginger and egg yolk. It’s Christmas in a glass.

If you get hungry, burger maestros Stokey Bears are just upstairs. Sorted.

Best Bars tip: Original Sin is just a straight shot down the road from High Water and POND, so we reckon this is going to quickly become one of your favourite cocktail crawls.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

Original Sin Stoke Newington Road
© Addie Chinn

 

London’s 9 Best Winter Pop-Ups: Snow Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum

Archer Street Soho Piste pop up

1. Piste at Archer Street

If you haven’t booked a ski holiday, no problem. Get that glorious après-ski experience at Archer Street’s pop-up Piste. It’ll feel like you’ve hopped right off the ski lift and into a wood-fired lodge fully kitted out with fur blankets and boozy cocktails. For a festive drink, try the Glow Plough with Grey Goose vodka, mulled port syrup, lime, cranberry, egg white and a floating glow stick (oooh shiny!).
Mon-Thurs: 4pm-1am; Fri-Sat: 2pm-1am.
3-4 Archer Street, W1D 7AP.York and Albany Winter Cabin pop up
2. The Winter Cabin at York & Albany

Just on the edge of Regent’s Park, this is one cosy and indulgent cabin — think tartans, animal skins and taxidermy. The drinks menu features a buttered rum hot chocolate (with MARSHMALLOWS) as well as spiced Bloody Marys. It’s all boozy, festive and delicious. Since this is a Gordon Ramsay affair, you can expect the food to be spot on as well. From wild boar sausages to black pudding scotch eggs, it’ll feel like Christmas with every bite. Now this charming little spot is for exclusive hire only, so round up 4-12 of your mates and nestle in for a couple of hours.
Daily: 1pm-10pm (excluding Christmas Day). 2 cocktails and paired snacks — £30 per person. 3 cocktails and paired snacks — £40 per person.
127-129 Parkway, NW1 7PS.

Winter Wonderland performer

3. Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park

This is other level Christmas celebrating. And if you haven’t heard of it or been to it before, then make this year the time. A huge festive wonderland (yes, wonderland) in the middle of Hyde Park with atmospheric markets, loads of rides for children small and not-so-small, as well hearty food and plenty of warming booze. Get extra organised and book yourself in to one of the shows like Cirque Berserk (see above) for just an extra splash of wow factor.
21 November – 4 January 2015. Mon – Sun:  10am – 10pm.
Hyde Park, W2 2UH.

Winterville Victoria Park market4. Winterville in Victoria Park

East London is getting its own winter wonderland with Winterville taking over the utterly tranquil Victoria Park. This place has everything: an ice rink, ferris wheel, fairground, roller disco, undercover bars, street food, cabaret, panto, horse-drawn carriages and a kids quarter. There’s even a “Wall of Death“, and no — you don’t have to climb it. Rather, it’s a gravity-defying motordome. Daredevil riders will do their best to accomplish some hair-raising stunts for your viewing pleasure. And to get access to all of this? Well, entry is FREE. So you have no excuse NOT to go.
Free entry. 2 December – 1 January (closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day). 10am-late.
Victoria Park, Grove Road, E3 5TB.

Sweder Christmas pop up5. Swedish Christmas by Skandilicious
From food served the Smörgåsbord way to the Scandi-style decor, this pop-up will immerse you in Swedish Christmas warmth from the moment you walk through the door. Get your eat on the Scandi way with gravlax and smoked salmon, mustard crumbed roast ham, Swedish meatballs and more types of herring than you ever knew existed. Once you’re finished eating, head up to the loft bar to sip on seasonal cocktails. Christmas just got a little bit “sweder”.
Tickets are £45. 14 November – 21 December. Lunch: 12pm-4pm. Dinner and drinks: Sun-Wed — 6pm-12am; Thurs-Sat — 6pm-1am.
The Old Guardian Media House Theatre Delicatessen, 119 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3DA.

Floridita Ski Chalet6. Winter Rum Chalet at Floridita

Inspired by the ski slopes of Patagonia, Floridita is launching its own take on the chalet theme (*hint: it involves A LOT of rum*). Think log-papered walls, a ski-chair seat for two and a mock fireplace for (mentally) warming the cockles.
From 19 November. Tues-Thurs: 5:30pm-late. Fri-Sat: 5:30pm-3am.
Floridita, 100 Wardour Street, W1F 0TN. 

Coq d'argent spiced almond cocktail7. Lodge d’Argent at Coq d’Argent 

Experience a taste of France at this ski chalet-cum-winter terrace. Guide your eyes past the vintage ski gear and go wrap yourself into the heavenly furry blankets. The heated and covered terrace will be on throughout winter — fully equipped with holiday favourites like fondue and even a Croque d’Argent station for cheesy, toastie goodness. And for those skipping the lactose, nab the Spiced Almond hot cocktail with spiced almond milk (obviously) and Anejo rum.
18 November – 28 February. Mon-Fri: 11:30am-11pm; Sat: 12pm-11pm; Sun: 12pm-5pm.
Coq d’Argent. No. 1 Poultry, EC2R 8EJ. 

Skylounge Viking Bar Pop Up8. Winter Viking Bar (Valhalla Vodka Bar) at Skylounge

One of London’s best rooftop bars has been taken over by Vikings … yes, Vikings. But it seems these ones are pretty friendly and welcoming, so you can expect weatherproof roofing, heaters, animals skins and views of the fjords. Plus lots of Scandi-style food and wintery vodka cocktails. Try to pronounce this one: Glapsvidr. Can’t? Neither can we. But with Aperol, passionfruit and apple — it’ll taste better than it sounds. And since the Vikings were of the hunter-gatherer tribe, the eats will be hearty, wholesome and meat-heavy.
25 November – February. Wed-Sun: 4:30pm-late.
7 Pepys Street, EC3N 4AF.

Alexander and James presents Christmas with the ivy9. Alexander & James Presents Christmas with The Ivy

This isn’t a pop-up per se, but it does pop the bar up right in your very own home. And since they’re partnering with The Ivy for Christmas, you get to have world-renowned eats AND world-renowned drinks without stepping a foot outside of your door. You will be treated to a three-course dinner created by The Ivy’s executive chef, Gary Lee, which will be paired with a selection of cocktails created by Alexander & James resident mixologist, Kenji Jesse. From fish dishes with floral gin sippers to meaty roasts with rich bourbon concoctions, you’ll be throwing an out-of-this-world dinner party without lifting a finger. This ain’t cheap, but if you are looking for a luxury option … then you’ve found it.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

The Grafton

The Grafton Kentish TownIt’s not hard to see why The Grafton was crowned Great British Pub of the Year 2014. This traditional cornerstone boozer in the heart of Kentish Town, offers a great drinks selection, a wide range of real ales, tasty meals and an impressive array of eclectic in-house events – all set in a stunning Victorian restoration complete with quirky modern features and a weather-proof roof terrace.

The downstairs bar offers no set drinks menu but check the chalkboards to scope out a rotating list of award-winning hand pumped ales, local craft beers, ciders, premium spirits and world wines. Tucked away upstairs, you’ll find a more modern bar with an adjacent rooftop terrace. With a bespoke selection of wines and the pub’s very own light prosecco, all on tap to satisfy demands for a constant flow of vino and moreish spritzers. Bar bites are available with food pop-ups such as Texas Joe’s BBQ, which is taking over Grafton’s kitchen until January 2015 with delectable meaty sharing platters.

The upstairs area also hosts Friday DJ nights, monthly Swapaholics clothes exchanges, acoustic music nights and many other fun shindigs. In fact, one look at the events listings and you’ll find there’s an occasion for everyone – from the Tuesday pub quiz (only £1 to enter) to Bring Your Own Vinyl nights, Sing-A-Long Sundays and even the all-welcoming Reggae Choir.

Best Bars tip: Having a bit of a get together? Get cosy in the Grafton’s “Boardroom”. Now available to hire, this upstairs space seats 10-14 or 20 standing and is perfect for private dining, meetings, film screenings, parties and you can even connect your own keg in the corner for all-night top ups.

— Mieke-Kyra Smith, @mieke_chu

The Grafton Kentish Town roof terrace

Sidewinder

Sidewinder Brighton beef brisket tacoWe love Kemptown hot spot Sidewinder. Distinctive from its big one-eyed crab mural on its exterior, this large pub has not one but two of the best beer gardens in town – think wooden booths complete with their own heaters for when the night draws in.

While we’ve always been fans, we’ve been making more frequent visits since it transformed its menu from pub grub to meaty Mexicana. Named Smokin’ Gringo, the kitchen now serves up the likes of burritos, tacos and nachos. Alongside this, the drinks menu has expanded from your usual bar fare of beers, ciders and wines to some punchy Margaritas, Palomas and Mojitos.

Yet fear not traditionalists. On Sundays the joint still serves roast dinners, complete with a build-your-own Bloody Mary station. That’ll kill those inevitable hangovers.

Best Bars tip: Another of our favourite haunts, Brighton Flea Market, is just down the road. We say combine a jaunt over to the east side of town to pick up a bit of bargain taxidermy plus a pint or two of the good stuff.

— Heather Steele, @steeleheather

Sidewinder Brighton

7 Best Halloween Parties in London: Pugs, Potions & Pumpkins

Devilish Dog Walk
© Ian Morrison/Dogstar Photo – dogstarphoto.co.uk

So it might be an American holiday, but admit it – Halloween is simply irresistible and London is definitely down with the dead. From bingo bashes to Discopaths, this city will boo-zing late into the night.

Sunday 26th October: All Dogs Matter Halloween Dog Walk, The Spaniards Inn
Because we love dogs. And Halloween. So whether you want to dress up your pup as Batman, Chewbacca or a fairy princess … come and join your fellow dog lovers in the name of charity (and all things fluffy/hilarious). Head to the pub at 10:30am to sign up and the walk sets off at 11am. And don’t forget, the clocks are going back an hour that day. And since there’s going to be a fancy dress competition — best dressed warlock/witch and spookiest — this is one that you don’t want to miss.
Registration 10:30am. Entry £5. Spaniards Road, NW3 7JJ.

Drink Shop and Do pumpkin carving27-30 October: Pumpkin Carving, Drink, Shop & Do
They slice off the tops, you dig out the gooey stuff in the middle and carve the pumpkin a terrifying face — but be careful with that sharp knife as they can’t be held responsible for any missing fingers. The bar will give you a FREE pumpkin when you buy a Halloween cocktail (one per person, pumpkin hoarders).
Free with a Halloween cocktail, 6-8pm, 9-11pm. Reservations required (some slots fully booked). 9 Caledonian Road, N1 9DX.

Indeedy Musical BingoFriday 31st October: Indeedy Bingo Halloween Spooktacular
The popular bingo-with-a-musical-twist party goes all Halloweeny, landing in Shoreditch Town Hall for a weird and wonderful (but mostly weird) spectacular. There’ll be dancing on tables, inflatable bananas, spooky potions and definitely some games. Dance in the moonlight, throw back a few witches’ brews, and get creeped out by the Town Hall-turned-Haunted House. There’s also a fancy dress competition and a mass Thriller dance — led by the Indeedy Granny Pack and trust us, they know how to get down.
9pm-2am. Tickets £15 in advance (including a drink), £20 on the door. Shoreditch Town Hall, 308 Old Street, EC1V 9LT.

Disco Soho DiscopathFriday 31st October: Discopath, Disco Soho
DISCO will be hosting their first ever film screening … a spine-chilling and famously frightening, 70s-style cult classic, DISCOPATH! Yes that’s right fright fans … Discopatch follows the story of Duane Lewis, a New York cook who becomes insane when hearing Disco music. You can chow down on nibbles from a specially designed Retro Discopath menu and sup on an abundance of boozy hard shakes. Once the film is over, all those who haven’t run off to hide under the covers (or been killed by the Discopath) will be welcomed to stay for a freaky Friday night in funky town, so you can commit murder on the dancefloor into the early hours. There will be roller skating waitstaff, a deadly dance-off comp, prizes for best costumes and some sinister surprises and ghoulish giveaways. Click here to watch the film trailer.
Tickets hereDoors at 7:30pm until late. 13 Kingly Court, W1B 5PW.

Trailer Happiness HalloweenFriday 31st October: Trailer Halloween with Fine Spirits, Trailer Happiness
The bar will be transformed into a tiki-infused Halloween haunt with an awesome themed drinks menu. The top three costumes will win a free drink and there will of course be the Trailer photo competition where the best photo of the month wins a £30 bar tab.
To book tables, send an email to reservations@trailerh.com.
5pm-late. 177 Portobello Road, W11 2DY. 

Earlham Street Clubhouse HalloweenFriday 31st October: Nightmare on Earlham Street, Earlham Street Clubhouse
Something wicked this way comes. Go and shake the shackles of Halloween this fright night with sweet and saucy 90s vibes, spookily seductive cocktails and mouth watering pizzas. Take a romp in the snogging cupboard. Let loose with a layback. Take a tumble with the tangled Twister.
6pm-3am. Free entry until 10:30pm — £10 thereafter. 35 Earlham Street, WC2H 9LD.

Bounce Zombie Apocalypse bunkerFriday 31st October: Halloween UV Zombie Apocalypse Bunker, Bounce
This Halloween, in order to escape the rampaging hordes of Zombies sweeping through Europe and now London, Bounce will be throwing open its doors in order to shelter you from the threat of the undead. It has been discovered that UV light causes the cells in a zombies body to rupture and explode. Armed with this knowledge, Bounce will be turning on ALL the UV lights, for added safety. So come dressed in UV friendly clothes, and then let the on-site facepainter pretty you up. And best of all, after 11pm all the tables will be FREE to play on. No booking, no cost. Gamesmakers will be on hand all night running special anti zombie games (whatever they are).
Tickets here12pm-2am. 121 Holborn, EC1N 2TD.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips