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 Junction

The Junction Birmingham foodSet in a commanding Victorian building at the top of Harborne High Street, open fireplaces, chequerboard tiles and sink-in-to-me-and-never-leave booth seating places The Junction squarely into must-have weekend territory.

With six regularly changing real ales and a stellar reputation for world beers – and that’s before world beers were a thing – The Junction just gets us. And if the bubbly brown stuff isn’t your thing, the rich yet revitalising Bloody Mary alongside Saturday brunch or The Junction’s epic Sunday lunch is our drink of choice.

Get your hands on a paper, some pals and settle in for the long haul – The Junction has everything you could possibly need. It even does boardgames.

Best Bars tip: Sunny day? The secluded beer garden, which isn’t visible from the front of the pub, is sometimes overlooked.

– Katy Drohan, ICHOOSEBirmingham.com

The Junction Birmingham interior

London Beer Week 2015 Guide

London beer week high resIt has begun: London Beer Week is officially on so you better HOP into the festivities (sorry, we couldn’t resist). To make things easier, we’ve rounded up the BEST activities and bars so you don’t miss one frothy bit. From 16-22 February, you will have a huge array of tastings, tours and tipples around Londontown to keep you busy (and all you need to do is get a £10 wristband).

MONDAY

London beer week barrel aged ihlBarrel Aged IHL Launch Party

For one night only, you’ll discover a brand new beer that’s be aged for six months in one tequila and six bourbon barrels. Plus you’ll get to check out the all-too-lovely The Kings Arms in Bethnal Green.
Free, 6pm, The Kings Arms Pub, 11A Buckfast Street, Bethnal Green, E2 6EY.

TUESDAY

London beer week brewhouse islington

The Big Flavour Beer Dinner

Enjoy a tasting with head brewer Pete Hughes of original house-brewed Brewhouse & Kitchen beers plus adventurous international guest beers from the experts at Boutique Bar Brands. They will be matched with chef’s seven-course taster dinner.
£25, 7.30pm, Brewhouse and Kitchen Islington, Torrens Street, EC1V 1NQ.

WEDNESDAY

London beer week crate brewery

Meet The Brewer with CRATE Brewery

Whether you’re an experienced home brewer or simply an enthusiastic craft beer drinker you’ll love the in-depth knowledge and comedy stylings of CRATE brewers Calum Bennet and Mark Peather at this special event. CRATE will also be taking over the taps at the Windsor Castle with their wide range of cask and kegged beers for your pleasure. And if you’ve never been to CRATE, you better believe you’ll want to go now.
Free, 7pm, The Windsor Castle, 135 Lower Clapton Road, E5 8EQ.

THURSDAY

london beer week the hops and glory

Brewery Launch at The Hops & Glory

One of the best pubs London has to offer has decided to launch its very own ON-SITE brewery. You’ll get to taste the beginning of their upcoming range of beers ranging from crisp, clean Pale Ales to Belgian Tripels.
Free, 8pm, The Hops & Glory, 382 Essex Road, Islington.

FRIDAY

London beer week beekeeper#BeeFactFriday Meet The Beekeeper and Hiver Tasting

Beers + bees = one hell of a buzz. Hiver Beers Founder, Hannah Rhodes, will be introducing Barnaby Shaw of Bee Urban London, who will offer an insight into the life of urban beekeeping and answering any questions you might have. There’ll be bee suits to try on, honeys to sample, a beehive to peer into and of course samples of award-winning Hiver for LBW wristband holders to enjoy.
Free, 7.30pm, Translate, 12-14 Kingsland Road, E2 8DA.

SATURDAY & SUNDAY

london beer week craft beer rising

Craft Beer Rising

Now this list wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t include Craft Beer Rising. 70 breweries, 450 different beers, and an onslaught of adventurous innovations and bold new flavours. Expect more craft beer than you could ever imagine (duh), lots of smoky street food, and a party pumping with DJs spinning tunes all weekend long.
Tickets £18.70-£22. Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, E1 6QL.

BEST BEER WEEK BARS

The Sun Tavern London Beer Week

The Sun Tavern

go and check out one of our favourite east London haunts and sip down on Camden Town Brewery’s Pale Ale for £3 … until its gone. Or have a boilermaker and try poitin (it’s like Irish moonshine) with half a beer for just a fiver.

big easy covent gardenBig Easy Covent Garden

Big, bold and beautiful — this Americana-styled hot spot has won the hearts of Covent Garden dwellers with its saucy ribs and frosty beers. Come by for £3 Meantime Brewery Fresh London Lager.

The Blues Kitchen ShoreditchThe Blues Kitchen — Shoreditch

A temple to the coolest B’s in the book: blues, BBQ and booze. Drop in for a taste of Innis and Gunn Original. And if we were you, we’d DEFINITELY upgrade to the £5 Woodford Reserve boilermaker.

Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar Hawksmoor Spitalfields

An underground haven for all things meat and booze. This is a sophisticated Spitalfields spot that’s just the right amount of trendy — with bang on burgers and BBQ too. Order yourself a bottle of Hibernation White IPA to go with those meaty eats.

Oskar's Bar in Dabbous interiorOskar’s Bar in Dabbous

A cocktail master, Oskar knows how to churn out some of the tastiest hoptails in town. Keep it simple and order the Pale Ale OR upgrade to The Drink With No Name, made with Woodford Reserve bourbon, greengage, ginger ale, lemon and Einstök pale ale.

The Cocktail Trading Company interior

 

The 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, and you need to swing by for their hoptail Boiler Baker (only a bang for your buck fiver!).

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

Rumpus Room

Rumpus Room Mondrian LondonThe battle for “bar with the greatest view of London” is a hard-fought one and Rumpus Room is the most recent contender. Facing the river from the top of Mondrian London at Sea Containers, a drink there will definitely give you that Londoner pride feeling – and not least so because the bar’s part of Mr Lyan’s portfolio.

The space really is the star player here. Visit at night, when the room is dark and lit by dandelion-like pendant lamps, the backbar and the city’s windows and streetlights. The deep red sofas are super comfortable, but if the weather’s right, nip out on the terrace to really take in the view.

Drinks wise, the menu’s split between ten classics and ten Rumpus serves – don’t expect the same as downstairs in Dandelyan. Here the drinks are a bit more approachable; twists on well-known names mostly. We liked the fresh and easy-drinking Pineapple Dark’n’Stormy, and the note of hops in the cistrusy Lemon Balm Margarita. There are also a few bites available – if you’ve managed to avoid London’s lobster frenzy, now is really time to give a lobster roll a try.

Best Bars tip: Rumpus Room is often closed for private events, so check before visiting.

–Gaëlle Laforest, @gaellelaforest

Rumpus Room Mondrian London

Sovereign Loss

Sovereign Loss BrixtonNow, this one’s the real deal. You’ll find the great and greater of the bar world both sides of the bar at (pretty much) all times of night, and no doubt joining in will make you feel a bit special – even more so with drink in hand. Sovereign Loss is small, the list is small, but the welcome is warm and the knowledge without bounds. You’re in for a good night.

The drinks list changes weekly, so it’s hard to know what to expect. You’ll likely find classics slightly twisted and a short selection of drinks with a good emphasis on fruit spirits. While we cannot speak highly enough of the Army and Navy — a wonderfully creamy, slightly sweet and pleasantly bitter almond drink — the best thing to do at Sovereign Loss is to tell the team what you like to drink and they’ll be happy to find a serve to your taste that’ll still surprise you.

This is the perfect place for late-night drinking: hard to find (you’ll have to be escorted from an unexciting side door of the downstairs Prince of Wales to the bar), darkly-lit and open until 5am or more. Add to that very reasonably priced cocktails and the cosy 20s feel and you might as well move in. We sure are.

Best Bars tip: Week evenings are quiet enough, but if you’re planning to visit on the weekend, book ahead.

— Gaëlle Laforest, @gaellelaforest

Sovereign Loss Brixton

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

MASH

MASH LondonAn underground masterpiece, MASH is big, bold and definitely beautiful. Reminiscent of cruise ships from a more decadent era, this Soho staple is perfect for post-work tipples or massive steak dinners.

Nab a seat at the massive island bar to delve into their hearty and confident menu. American bourbons take front row, so it’s best to start there. Try the sweet, smoky and unctuous The Binchotan, a take on the Manhattan, with Bulleit bourbon, Cynar, coconut and cardamom, served with a piece of binchotan charcoal. Or if you’re throwing all that detox malarkey to the wind, then indulge yourself with a 5 Dollar Milkshake. An utterly delicious combo of bourbon, hazelnut liqueur, vanilla ice cream, bourbon biscuit and a bit of mint. For one to sip on, naturally you’d have to get the Sipper – a room-temperature neat serve that comes in a specially designed glass, think something between a decanter and a brandy balloon.

Since MASH stands for Modern American Steak House, it’d be a pity to leave without some meaty eats. And if you swing by for a steak-filled Sunday, bring along some vino too — corkage is FREE!

Best Bars tip: If you’re looking for an award-winning drink, see if bartender Steve can knock you out one of his French Pride cocktails. A balanced combination of white truffle honey, Noilly Prat Dry vermouth and Bombay Sapphire gin. Plus it comes with truffle-stuffed olives. Delicious? Hells yes.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

MASH London