It’s been a busy spring here in London, with hotels and restaurants preparing enticing new food menus and creative cocktails, not to mention special Afternoon Teas to welcome in the Chelsea Flower Show.
One such hotel is The Sofitel London St James, which has put together a range of new cocktails and three delicious new cakes specially created for this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. The first cake is a delicious “Elderflower”, made with Tonka beans sable, peach confit and elderflowers mouse. The “Violet” is made with Sablé Breton, violet and grape compote and ricotta cheesecake. And the third is a delicious “Poppy” cake, made with Pistachio croquet, strawberry preserve and poppy mousseline cream.
An Afternoon Tea without a cocktail or glass of bubbly isn’t complete in my book, and so I am pleased to say that the St James Bar team have come up with their own unique “Chelsea Flower Show Cocktail” made with Edgerton Pink Gin, violet syrup, Rose liqueur, lime juice and passion fruit. And I can report that it tastes as good as it looks!
They are also serving an Afternoon Tea “Signature Champagne Cocktail”, again made with Edgerton Pink Gin. Lime juice, Monin Orgeat syrup and topped with Brut Champagne and garnished with a rose petal and pomegranate seeds.
In addition to these two cocktails, the bar team have created six new London-inspired cocktails to welcome in the longer warmer days in the city.
Inspired by the fragrant Buckingham Palace Gardens, the floral and sweet “Secret Garden” is created with Sipsmith Gin, Acai liqueur, strawberry and rosemary shrub and coriander bitters. “Papa’s Cocktail” on the other hand, is inspired by the story of Sir Winston Churchill and his Parliament Square statue and is made with Jonnie Walker Black Label, Metaxa 12, peach bitters and honey syrup.
The fruity and sour “Jekyll and Hyde” is made with Maker’s Mark, Roobios tea infused gum syrup, Antica Formula, Angostura Bitters and lime juice and is presented in a rather quirky double glass of course to show off its split personality!
The other three London-based cocktails include “L’Orangerie”, made with Dictador gin, Bulgare tea syrup infused with rosemary and orange peel, Chase Marmalade vodka, Mastiha Roots, lime juice and orange bitters. Whilst “Parfait CoquiN” is created with Dictador 12, Malibu infused with pineapple, star anise and gomme syrup, Mozart liqueur and cardamom bitters. And finally, “221B”, which is a mix of Metaxa 12, crème de fig infused with anichai tea, lime juice, honey and dark chocolate syrup, Bob’s Liquorice bitters and egg white.
Sticking with cocktails, The Lobby Bar at One Aldwych launched the world’s first cocktail trolley back in January, serving exclusively the 130-year-old classic “Old-Fashioned”, which many would argue is perhaps the greatest drink of all time. Hand-made by a master British craftsman, this beautifully crafted trolley offers a wonderfully unique drinking experience in the heart of London.
Then in March, the Lobby Bar launched its brand-new Showtime Cocktails menu, comprising of 17 cocktails inspired by West End shows, created by Pedro Paulo, the Lobby Bar’s award-winning Bar Manager.
“The Origin” is the showstopper cocktail, made with a blend of Dalmore 12-year-old whisky, Merlet cherry liqueur, grapefruit juice, chocolate bitters and topped with Lallier Champagne.
Other noteworthy cocktails on the menu include “Fairy Garden Infusion”, made with Hendrick’s Gin, Taylor’s Chip Dry White Port, Coriander Bitters and Rose Lemonade and inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “The Coffee That Goes Wrong” is a mix of Chivas Regal 18-year-old whisky, Madeira wine, Pedro Ximenex 30-year-old sherry, liquorice bitters and bay leaves and inspired by The Play that Goes Wrong. “Mediterranean Macbeth” is made with Botanist Islay Dry Gin, rosemary syrup, Campari, lemon juice, Lallier Champagne and served with a parmesan wedge and was inspired by Macbeth.
And lastly the “Aldwych Mule”, which is a mix of Absolut Elyx vodka, elderflower liqueur, lime juice, ginger beer and gooseberry jam and inspired by Is He Dead? It is served in a copper highball vessel with a laser-cut image of the iconic One Aldwych hotel façade.
Over in Marylebone, 108 Bar and 108 Pantry at The Marylebone Hotel play host to a special gin distillery known as “Isabella” for the Chelsea Flower Show and will be distilling their very own limited edition of 108 Gin in partnership with the Mary-le-bone Gin. The recipe of 108 Gin is a combination of botanicals including Irish Lavender, Chamomile, Lime Flower, Lemon Balm, Coriander, Grapefruit, Orange Peel, Cloves and Liquorice.
A special Afternoon Tea has also been created with a floral twist and is completely gluten free. It consists of Lavender and Raspberry Burnt English Custard, Orange Blossom Madeleines as well as Rose Petal and Strawberry Jam to accompany their delicious homemade Buttermilk Scones.
Simon Burrell is Editor-in-Chief of Our Man On The Ground and a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers.
Photographs courtesy of One Aldwych and The Marylebone and by Simon Burrell for Sofitel London St James