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

Little Red Staircase (below Viet Grill)

Little Red Staircase Viet Grill cocktails

A Saigon-inspired secret below ever-popular eatery Viet Grill, Little Red Staircase serves original tipples with an Asian twist.

Ingredients from far out east are carefully balanced with on-trend cocktail bases. Take the Hoa Hong – made from sake, hibiscus flower, Aperol and prosecco, it’s the Vietnamese take on a Spritz. Delicate flavours of the Orient make a great base for refreshing drinks like the La Long Ice Tea, with lotus ice tea added to tequila and grenadine. Aperitif drinks are a match for lightly spiced and subtle bar snacks, including “pig on a stick” and salt and chilli squid with red eye mayo.

The bar isn’t large in size but packs a punch with exotic rich red drapes, lanterns and upholstery.

Best Bars tip: Try the Viet Royal – a spoonful of plum jam lays in the bottom, with spoon left in. Simply stir to make this drink as sweet as you like.  

— Laura Richards, @Lala_Richards

Little Red Staircase Hoxton Viet Grill

London Pisco Sour Week: The 7 Best Bars to Celebrate

LONDON PISCO SOUR WEEKLondon is about to feel a whole lot sunnier, as the city’s first Pisco Sour Week is about to kick off. From 1-8 February, seven of the best Peruvian hot spots will be dishing out delicious Pisco Sours (and a few other tasty treats too). So if you don’t spend this week washing down zesty ceviche dishes with frothy sours, then you’re just not doing it right.

All you need to do, is swing by one of these spots to collect your official #LPSW wristband and you can enjoy £5 Pisco Sours ALL. WEEK. LONG. So get registered ASAP! And grab your handy dandy map here.

Pisco Sour Week chotto matte
1. Chotto Matte

Head to Soho’s Chotto Matte – a staple for the fashion set, this is heavy on styling and is one of those places where you come to see and be seen. So go and indulge in the ultimate holiday beverage – a Piscolada – made with 1615 Quebranta, lime, pineapple and Coco Lopez.

LIMA Floral Pisco Bar

2. Lima Floral

When you arrive here, it’ll feel like you’ve died and gone to Peruvian heaven. The food is simply exquisite, and the basement Pisco Bar is too cool for school (or just cool enough). Nab yourself a £5 classic Pisco Sour, or get a tasting of three Piscos for £10 – we’d probably opt for the latter.

Coya Pisco Sour3. Coya

Serving up a slice of Peruvian paradise is the chic and glossy Coya. Downstairs you’ll find the artfully Latin-twinged restaurant and bar, with Peruvian masks, metallic bartops, and brightly coloured furnishings. Swing down for a Pisco Sour FLIGHT! You get to try three of their house-infused varieties for £15: raspberry and thyme, rhubarb, and Williams pear – basically, it’s a triple hitter. Or maybe try the barrel-aged Pisco, which is used in their Negroni in Lima – a Pisco-based aged Negroni. Yum.

Senor Ceviche4. Señor Ceviche

One of Kingly Court’s most recent additions, this bright and buzzy little space will put a pep in your step when the weather’s looking dour. Chow down on fiery chillies and cool off with Pisco Passion Sours – made with, you guessed it, passionfruit.

Pachamama Marylebone5. Pachamama

Head to this Marylebone small plates haven and try their Spiced Chamomile Pisco Sour with Barsol Quebrenta, lime, chamomile syrup, Becherovka, white chardonnay, orinoco bitter and egg white. Floral, fresh and utterly delicious.

Tierra Peru6. Tierra Perú

This place started out as a Camden Market stall, and having graduated to a permanent site in Islington – you can now rest your rump whilst you tuck in to their lengthy menu. To drink, go off piste (and extra zesty) and try the Lucuma & Mandarin Sour with 1615 Torontel Pisco, lucuma pulp, mandarin liqueur, egg white and opi cherry. Don’t know most of those ingredients? Well get adventurous and just dive in!

Tito's Peru7. Titos

A long-standing Peruvian eatery, this is a no-frills affair with hearty feasts and Pisco treats. Go for the Mango Pisco Sour because why not?

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

Gin Journey

Gin Journey East London LIquor CompanyIf you want to discover London’s best gin delights (and a some more of its best bars), then it’s time to hop on to the Gin Journey. It’s not quite a pub crawl – this is a rather more elegant affair – but either way, it’s just as fun. Put yourself into the capable hands of Leon Dalloway, the dashing chap who’s the brains behind Shake, Rattle and Stir. With a decade of experience working in the drinks industry, needless to say — he knows his stuff.

Gin Journey Leon

In one evening, you’ll get to visit five bars, taste five cocktails and five gins, be chauffered around London in a “gin carriage”and learn all about the fascinating history of this iconically British spirit – for the bargain sum of £60. In it’s current incarnation, you’ll start the night off at Merchant House – a beautiful gin and rum bar in the City – where you’ll get to know one of the most awarded gins of the last few decades, Martin Miller’s. From there, it’s on to Tower Bridge where you’ll drink Beefeater among the Beefeaters. Sheer genius. This stop is at Perkin Reveller, and as it’s your opportunity to order some food – we say, take it up. We quite nearly ate the entire menu … and felt all the better for it.

Gin Journey Perkin Reveller

Then it’s time to hop on to the gin carriage and head eastward, to the prettiest bar-cum-distillery we ever did see: East London Liquor Company. Here you’ll get the full rundown on how gin is made and get to taste some of their home brand stuff – it’s as fresh as it gets. The next stop on the journey is at Worship Street Whistling Shop: a Shoreditch speakeasy slinging some seriously sumptuous Sipsmith sippers. And when it’s time to wrap up the night, you’ll be heading to the one and only Callooh Callay. This is a mega-bar that’s won quite a few awards in its day and is partial to a punny cocktail or two. Here things will get changed up month-to-month, with guest gins taking a starring role. We got to try a What’s up Doc made with Ford’s Gin, lemon, elderflower, ginger, carrot shrub, orange and mandarin bitters poured over prosecco. Bright orange, bubbly and brilliantly fun.

Oh and did we mention there will be prizes up for grabs throughout the night? Come prepped with your best gin knowledge OR be a social media whiz. Either way, you can leave with some nifty gifties.

Best Bars tip: Once you’ve had a taste of the Gin Journey – you’ll be all aboard for more. And lucky for you, there’s plenty more to choose from. To get the whole “Gin Experience“, join Leon for a tour of London’s gin distilleries and really sink your teeth into the technical sides of production. Or switch over to the richer sweeter side and go on a Rum Ramble – like the Gin Journey but with a LOT more rum.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

gin journey worship street whistling shop

(Not So) Dry January: Martini Madness in London

Dry January … it just sounds so, well, dry. But it doesn’t have to be. We all know that maybe we hit the sauce (be it cranberry or booze) a little too hard round the Christmas/New Year period, so everyone’s been cutting back. Yet switching completely to the green shakes and kale chips isn’t so enticing anymore. We’re here to help. If you’re not avoiding drinking completely, it’s time to try one of these delicious vermouthy Martinis. Plus, you’re going to look pretty bad-ass ordering off-menu drinks. If that doesn’t put 2015 off to a good start, we don’t know what will.

Noilly Prat Steve Law - French Pride - ©Olivier Octobre-15
©Olivier

MASH

An 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.

Drink to try: If you’re looking for award-winning concoctions, swing by MASH to try the UK’s BEST tasting Noilly Prat classic dry martini cocktail. Ask if bartender Steve can knock you out one of his French Pride numbers, a balanced combination of white truffle honey, Noilly Prat Original Dry vermouth and Bombay Sapphire gin. Plus it comes with truffle-stuffed olives. Delicious? Hells yes.

Noilly Prat Mike Foster - Lip Stinger - ©Olivier Octobre-10 crop
©Olivier

69 Colebrooke Row

If you’re in the mood for a mysterious tipple, then head to the Bar With No Name … or as it’s better known, 69 Colebrooke Row. Courtesy of cocktail maestro Tony Conigliaro and his lab (a.k.a. the Drink Factory), this cosy hidden bar is constantly breaking ground with its innovative creations.

Drink to try: Ask for Mike’s twist on a gin classic — the Lip Stinger. Equal parts vermouth and gin, with a few dashes of orange bitters and a drop of absinthe to finish it off. Lip stinging? Yes. Tasty? Yes.

Beaufort Bar at The Savoy

Beaufort Bar

The Beaufort Bar at The Savoy is an art deco masterpiece and one of the singularly most decadent drinking holes in London. And by hole, we mean hotel extraordinaire. Walking in, you’ll feel every ounce special occasion — even if it’s just a Monday after-work tipple. Even though the Beaufort is a new addition following the 2011 multi-million refurb, the bar is set up on the hotel’s former cabaret stage where legendary performers used to entertain. From Frank Sinatra to Marilyn Monroe, the world’s greatest have whiled away the hours here … and you should too.

Drink to try: Ask Lorenzo to make you his land- and sea-inspired MM Cocktail — a decadent combination of vodka, dry vermouth, two dashes of pomelo bitters, a Parmesan water and Islay scotch rinse, with an oyster leaf and vanilla caviar garnish. It might sound a little crazy, but damn it tastes good.

Quo Vadis Soho Bar

Quo Vadis

A classy club in the heart of Soho, Quo Vadis houses the masters of Martinis. But you know what else they do well? Everything. So if you’re in the mood for sophisticated sipping, mosey on down.

Drink to try: If the ever-smiling Simone is behind the bar, ask to try The Harmony. A Martini twist made with chinotto liqueur, Noilly Prat Original Dry vermouth and Bombay Sapphire East Dry gin — it’s balanced and dry with gentle bitter notes. 

Noilly Prat Ally Martin - Martini a Marseillan - ©Olivier Octobre-6
©Olivier

Peg + Patriot

The bar pays tribute to the grandeur and opulence of the original Town Hall building, yet there is a level of restraint that keeps things just the right amount of casual. And with plenty of spots to perch around the island bar — with an extra brass counter for your drinks — this is perfect for bar-side or table-side boozing.

Drink to try: Ask bartender Ally Martin for a Martini au Marseillen — a slightly salty mix of Bombay Sapphire Dry gin, Noilly Prat Original Dry vermouth, a splash of saline solution and garnished with a caper berry.

trailer happiness notting hill

Trailer Happiness

A subterranean Tiki party spot that is always up for a wild night fuelled by rummy cocktails. The 70s basement décor is cheeky and cheerful, much like their staff and drinks. So when you’re looking to cut loose, there’s little better than this ode to Polynesia/Tiki-Americana.

Drink to try: In true Tiki-style, the Smoki Joe Martini is all about the fire and flare — though a notably more restrained approach than some of the volcano drinks (which you should also try). We’ll leave the rest as a surprise.

— 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

The 14 Best New London Bars of 2014

Peg and Patriot Bethnal Green Road1. Peg + Patriot

Nestled in Bethnal Green’s classically beautiful Town Hall Hotel, there’s a hot spot that will tempt you further eastward — just beyond the boundaries of Shoreditch. Peg + Patriot is the latest haunt from talented drinksman Matt Whiley (of Talented Mr Fox), and he’s brought his unique style of cocktail-making to the East End.

Mission Bethnal Green Addie Chinn
© Addie Chinn

2. Mission

Sitting within the naturally atmospheric railway arches on Bethnal Green’s Paradise Row, Mission’s copper-topped bar, ceiling-high palm tree, and alit wine-filled backbar all seamlessly come together to bring you that quintessential modern wine experience. Plus the food is extraordinary too.

The Sun Tavern bar high res3. The Sun Tavern

Taking a casual approach in setting, this unassuming pub on Bethnal Green Road is pure magic inside. The dim, narrow, candelit space is equal parts cool and sexy with an L-shaped bar that’s lit up with some of the snazziest lanterns we’ve seen around. This is another page ripped straight off the New York City playbook, striking that perfect balance of Irish dive bar-meets-cocktail den.

Dandelyan Mondrian London interior4. Dandelyan

This is one seriously talented team and they’ve brought their magic touch to South Bank’s hot hotel, Mondrian London, manning the Dandelyan bar as well as creating drinks for the entire hotel (from the Sea Containers restaurant to bottled cocktails in the mini fridges). The design is sleek and sexy, with deep purples and shades of green … oh, and the view of the Thames and St Paul’s is rather impressive too.

City Social London5. City Social

Socialising just got slightly darker, a bit sexier and a whole lot higher. Sitting pretty on the 24th floor of Tower 42, Jason Atherton’s skyrise outpost City Social is more art deco than the rest. We wouldn’t blame you for feeling like you are in one of New York City’s mainstay, high-rise haunts.

El Nivel Day of the Dead6. El Nivel

Tucked just above the long-loved La Perla is agaveria El Nivel — courtesy of industry legend Tomas Estes and his son Jesse. A departure from the 17 other Estes venues, this is a slightly more upscale venture with draped curtains, colourful Mexican artwork and Latin retro vibes. The bright and sunny room may be small, but the bar is big on service – and will bring you an intimate and elegant drinking experience every time.

Shrub and Shutter Brixton food and drink7. Shrub and Shutter

This one’s a little out of the way, but so worth a visit. Stepping into The Shrub and Shutterfeels like being in a giant terrarium – there are plants, the flicker of candles, slates on the walls and metal cans decorating the shelves and ceiling. The menus are on the wall, and they’ll catch your attention real quick: what’s growing in this bar is one helluva cocktail list.

High Water Stoke Newington Road interior8. High Water

Come hell or High Water, Dalston has a new chilled out cocktail haven. This treasure of a bar is the product of one seriously talented team, so whatever your tipple of choice, it will be perfectly executed and utterly delicious. Classics are bang on, and so are all their twists.

POND Dalston
©2014 Tom Mannion

9. POND Dalston

Always wanted to take that dream holiday to Hawaii? Well, we can’t help you there. Or maybe we can … welcome to London’s little slice of island paradise: POND Dalston. This happy haunt comes courtesy of Byron Knight, who has put his magic touch on places like Duke’s Brew & Que as well as Off Broadway (if you haven’t been to either of those, get them in the diary). The kitchen is manned by talented chef Frog Wong while the bar is pumping out elegant tropical cocktails by Megs DeMeulenare.

Original Sin Stoke Newington Road
© Addie Chinn

10. Original Sin

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 toOriginal 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.

Bar Termini Soho window11. Bar Termini

Italian-styled cocktail spot Bar Termini is bringing glamour back to train station drinking. The design is pared back with nods to railways (like the overhead shelving) and the dark nighttime setting makes it rather intimate indeed. Cocktails are premixed in Tony C’s lab, so you can expect precision, consistency and most importantly, perfection. One of our favourite 69 Colebrooke Row drinks has made it over to this site: the simple-looking yet complex-tasting Terroir.

WC Wine and Charcuterie Clapham12. WC — Wine & Charcuterie

Drinking in the toilet just got classy. Think we’re mad? Think again. WC Wine and Charcuterie has opened in Clapham Common underground station’s toilets. Having lain derelict for years, the 100-year-old, listed cubicles have been given a bloody good once over and now house one of London’s most talked about bars.

East London Liquor Company bar13. East London Liquor Company

Sitting in the back of what at first looks like a car park, is one of east London’s finest and newest gems — the East London Liquor Company. An industrial-yet-airy bar with copper touches and it’s biggest treat: an in-house distillery where the staff are crafting their own gins, vodkas and whiskies. If you’ve ever seen a backbar more beautiful than this … well, you probably haven’t.

Dishoom King's Cross14. Dishoom King’s Cross

The third and largest outpost of Dishoom is another beautifully designed Bombay café, setting up shop in the foodie destination of Granary Square. The warehouse-like space manages to ooze charm with antique knick-knacks and brass touches throughout. The Permit Room bar downstairs fits 90 people and opens at 5pm every day, so swing by for spicy twists on ginny numbers or even some zesty and fruity mocktails. They also have a whole selection of pre-batched cocktails for your pleasure.

Honourable mentions:

Peony at Opium, Verden, B & H Buildings, Loves Company, Merchant House, 184 Hackney Road, Portside Parlour, and The Whip.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips