Joyeux Bordel

Joyeux Bordel Shoreditch
© Addie Chinn

For the non francophones out there, “Joyeux Bordel” roughly translates as jolly mess – but while there might be potential for a messy night, walking through the hidden entrance (this is Shoreditch, after all) and down the stairs to the bar gives off more of a sophisticated vibe, with just a little plenty-of-dark-corners kind of edge.

The latest born of the Experimental Cocktail Club, it’s got a drinks menu with the expected flair, and a reasonable amount of French influence – old aperitifs, dusty bottles with continental names and all the Suze and Lillet you’d ever want. Go for the bar’s signature drink – the Jolly Mess – which uses rye spirit, pear eau de vie, vermouth, cardamom syrup and chocolate liqueur. Sounds moreish and decadent but is surprisingly balanced, with a nice bitter chocolate aftertaste.

One thing you might not expect at first is that Joyeux Bordel is a music lover’s paradise – a nice touch when you know the space used to be legendary club Plastic People until it closed early this year. The sound system is one of the best in Europe, with speakers and amps legendary in a way that we didn’t manage to understand, so expect a refined line-up of DJs with The Clove Club’s Daniel Willis at the helm.

Best Bars tip: If you’re fond of antique bottles and glasses, and fancy sipping on something really special that no one quite knows the history of, Joyeux Bordel has a collection of antique spirits that they might just let the regulars try.

— Gaëlle Laforest, @gaellelaforest

Joyeux Bordel Shoreditch
© Addie Chinn

The Hope & Ruin

The Hope Brighton gigSituated right down from the station and not too far away from the beach, this spacious venue is popular with the post-work and student crowds alike.

While a lot of people come to the Hope & Ruin for the friendly, laid-back attitude and the fact that it stays open nice and late, the rest arrive for the music. The bar’s outdoor sign, which features a logo of a retro Orange amp, should set the evening’s tone well.

Upstairs you’ll find a 100-capacity venue, Hope Live, where the venue hosts four or five gigs and club nights a week. It is here that you can catch both local indie types as well as touring acts from around the world. Downstairs, expect an assortment of old but comfy sofas, a jukebox, a pint or four of something cold and a good playlist soundtracking the night. If you fancy a bite to eat, then the bar’s tapas and pizza menus should do the trick.

Best Bars tip: The Strokes, Adele and The White Stripes have all played at The Hope over the years. We suggest catching an up-and-coming band here while they’re still up-and-coming. You never know…

– Heather Steele, @steeleheather

The Hope Brighton

The 6 Best Valentine’s Day Events in London


Well it’s that time of year again. The day when loved up couples get extra mushy gushy and those who are single are also ready to mingle. But whether you’re attached or flying solo, we’ve rounded up the best ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day (or Anti-Valentine’s Day, as is becoming increasingly popular).

Loves Company Tinder Surprise cocktail1. Valentine’s Week at Loves Company

Loves Company are making cupid work extra hard this Valentine’s Day by hosting a whole week of celebrations, from 9-15 February. On Friday the 13th, it’s a night dedicated to the “Unlucky in Love” – an evening for those of us who are, let’s say, romantically challenged. Share your most embarrassing date story @LovesCompany #crymeariver and the top five worst will win a free cocktail. On 14 February, they’ll be hosting a masquerade ball – so you can drink, dance and debauch your way into total delirium at this freaky affair for star-crossed lovers. Plus “Lovely Hour” will happen every day from 7pm – 9pm, in which the classic cocktail menu will be 2-for-1 – that’s a drink for you and a free drink for your luvah …
9-15 February.
104 City Road, EC1V 2NR.

Bounce Ping Pong Holborn2. Anti-Valentine Party at Bounce

Spend the night wielding paddles in a room full of single Londoners. Get your head out of the gutter! It’s a massive ping pong party with DJs spinning tunes all night. Expect live entertainment, free ping-pong and one hell of a party.
Saturday 14 February. Doors at 8:30pm, party until 3am.
£5 for early bird tickets, £7 for standard tickets. 121 Holborn, EC1N 2TD.

BASEMENT SATE Soho cocktails dessert3. Valentine’s Day at Basement Sate

Soho’s sweetest spot is a dessert-cum-cocktail bar, and you can get a triple hit of puddings with matching cocktails for just £38 a head.
8 Broadwick Street, SohoW1F 8HN.

The Running Horse Sausage Making4. Sausage-Making Masterclass at The Running Horse

Guided by the TRH chefs, you’ll get a step-by-step tutorial on creating the perfect banger. Whether it’s a long and thin pepperoni or a long and wide bratwurst, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. You’ll kick things off with a glass of fizz, followed by cocktails and on-theme canapés. Stuffing the skins is definitely a two person job: squeeze too hard and your bratwurst may burst, not enough pressure can lead to a limp larry (and no one likes a limp larry). You’ll get to take away your creations and the chefs will decide which couple has the finest banger. The winners will win their very own sausage maker – so you can practise your handiwork back at home.
Masterclasses start at 10am, Saturday 14 February.
Tickets are £60 a head and include a glass of champagne, a Valentine’s cocktail, canapés, lunch and a glass of wine … your loved one could do a lot wurst!
50 Davies Street, Mayfair, W1K 5JE.

Broken Hearts and Promises5. Broken Hearts and Promises Pop-Up

A one night only pop-up in a 500-capacity townhouse, Meredith Bespoke returns after the Nordic Yulefest and is bringing everyone together for this special night. Expect an evening of laughter, cocktails, love and disco, with five themed rooms including a pop-up Lulu Guinness Kissing Booth, a luxurious cinema space and heart-shaped piñatas with prizes up for grabs.
Saturday 14 February. Doors at 6.30pm.
Early Bird tickets are priced at £15. Standard tickets are £20.
Bloomsbury House, 2-3 Bloomsbury Square, WC1 2RL.

The Alchemist smokey old fashioned6. Matchmaking Mixology at The Alchemist

Get a bit experimental this Valentine’s Day, and learn how to spark a chemical reaction and create your own cocktails. In a 90-minute masterclass, you’ll work side-by-side with the talented bartenders to learn how to make their show-stopping creations. You’ll be treated to demonstrations on the bar’s three most sought-after libations: the Smokey Old Fashioned (bourbon and bitters with maple syrup and oak smoke), the French Martini (Green Mark Russian Vodka and Chambord with cranberry juice and pineapple foam) and a Passionfruit Mojito (Havana Club rum with passion fruit, lime and mint).
Saturday 14 February at 3pm. £30 per person.
6 Bevis Marks, EC3A 7BA.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

The Cocktail Trading Company

The Cocktail Trading Company garnishThe Cocktail Trading Company — cosy pub vibes, party drinks and an intimate atmosphere tucked underneath Central & Co. This tiny basement bar is an incredible addition to the Soho drinking scene, where you can go have a few relaxed cocktails from some of the industry’s most talented bartenders. The three chaps who birthed this venture cut their teeth at the best bars going, so if you’re keen for a cocktail masterclass — these are the most capable hands around.

We say you should dutifully work your way through the drinks menu — chatting with your all-too-friendly server for recommendations. One of our favourites is The Scout’s Honour with 86 Co. tequila, lime juice, smoked marshmallow syrup, toasted marshmallows and a garnish that’s served in a tin (we’ll leave what’s inside as a surprise). And if that doesn’t satiate your sweet tooth, get the Tu-Whit-Tu-Whoo-Woo, a twist on a noughties classic that’s made with Stoli vodka, sage, peach and cranberry syrup then topped with prosecco and garnished with candy floss. Pure glee. If you’re keen for more savoury sips, try the Welcome to Kentucky, Have a Nice Day. Served in a takeaway container and topped with crispy bacon-flavoured egg noodles (seriously), this is a Jim Beam number with ginger, plum, yuzu and matcha tea. It’s absolutely scrumptious. And if the foodie garnishes haven’t filled you up, you can order sharing plates from the upstairs bar. Go healthy with a raw veg platter or treat yourself with some sticky squid.

The lighting is pretty remarkable here, and they can adjust it per table — depending on how your night is going. By the end of our evening, disco lights and throwback tunes were the name of the game.

Best Bars tip: Try to book ahead, since there’s only so many tables. And make sure to keep your night clear, because we reckon you’ll be hanging round until closing time … we sure did.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

The Cocktail Trading Company interior

Belgrave Music Hall

Belgrave Music hall LeedsLeeds’ north quarter channels east London vibes with this trendy, bustling venue. Across Belgrave Music Hall’s three floors you’ll find food, live music, an art market, film screenings, a token french bulldog or two (of course) and the city’s most impressive roof terrace.

Serving a wide selection of cask ales, premium lagers and craft brews (including the venue’s own craft beer made with Northern Monk Brew Company), this is the ideal drinking spot for beer lovers. If you’re not into hops you can choose from straight up mixers, no-fuss slushy cocktails, a short wine list or get a caffeine fix with fresh coffee courtesy of Laynes Espresso. Canteen-style street food is served up by Dough Boys, the in-house “pizza pilgrims” who deliver a constantly changing menu of locally sourced products and vegan and gluten-free options. If you’re a foodie, you’ll love Belgrave Feast which takes over the venue every second Saturday of the month to showcase independent food vendors from all around the country.

It’s easy to see Belgrave Music Hall as one of the most exciting spaces on the Leeds scene. Its east London-inspired décor with industrial touches and minimalist bold designs make the perfect backdrop for the eclectic roster of music, arts and film performances. The large roof terrace itself is enough to draw a crowd, decked out with fake grass, quirky heated huts, deck chairs and its own mini bar. Whether you’re up for food, booze or art, this is the ultimate year-round hangout for any culture vultures, foodies and beer enthusiasts.

Best Bars tip: Love dough? Pizza slices are half price until 7pm, Sunday – Thursday and 5pm Friday and Saturday.

— Mieke-Kyra Smith, @mieke_chu

Belgrave Music Hall Leeds beer garden

Hare & Hounds

Hare and Hounds Birmingham diningThe Hare & Hounds is a neighbourhood boozer with international musical reach and some of the most forward-thinking club nights in the region. Two upstairs venues cover off everything from jazz to to comedy to D’n’B, while pub quizzes, home-cooked grub and weekend DJs keep both the old and new sides of the bar downstairs busy every night of the week.

We like the regularly changing guest ales and reassuringly sizeable selection of ciders for sunny afternoons which turn in to all-nighters. For a more conversational start to your visit, try the newly-renovated side of the bar where classic cocktails are now being dispensed.

Not a venue where punters generally stop in for just one — we’ve lost whole weekends to this Birmingham giant.

Best Bars tip: Sign up to the e-newsletter to avoid missing out on the next big musical thing. UB40 started here.

– Katy Drohan, ICHOOSEBirmingham.com

Hare and Hounds Birmingham

Purl

Purl sofa booth

If you don’t know about it then you’d probably never know it existed, but speakeasy bar Purl has become recognised for its stylish and sophisticated atmosphere where cutting-edge cocktails transport the drinker to another world with Martinis served at -50°C and luscious libations created using food, smoke and foam.

From the people behind VOC and Worship Street Whistling Shop, it’s no surprise Purl has quickly become a hot spot for cocktail enthusiasts. These geniuses provide an all-encompassing experience by tingling your senses with aroma, fogs and liquid nitrogen to bring these drinks to life. Modern methods and obscure ingredients are used to create their unique drinks, try the amazing Negroily No. 2 — a beautiful concoction of Bombay Sapphire gin aged in a moscato barrel, Nardini Rabarbaro, Cocchi di Torino, paired with olive oil foam, asparagus and a black truffle finish. Or for those sweet-toothed drinkers, the Willy Wonka Obsession could become your new fix on a cold winter’s evening. It’s a crafty combination of amaretto and cherry-aged Gentlemen Jack, brown sugar and bitters, paired with traditional Italian hot chocolate. Try your hand at a masterclass and you could soon be a modern-day Walter White, making up foamy concoctions in their drinks laboratory.

Heading downstairs you come to a vaulted basement giving you the opportunity for seclusion in slinky booths, perfect to cosy up with a date or some intimate conversations with close friends. The music is chosen by someone with impeccable taste in jazz and blues – so you’re sure to enjoy your whole evening here, trying every obscure thing on the menu.

Best Bars tip: Book ahead for an intimate booth, or head there on a Wednesday night for live jazz.

— Nicola Carruthers, @Nik_Carruthers

Purl cocktail 3