Cocktails at The Metropole

I’m back!!! After a 1 month break from the blog, I decided it would be rude not to share my latest adventures with you. During this time, I have sampled excellent cuisine in Sicily and Edinburgh to name, but a few..so what better way to come back, but with a cocktail recommendation from the 5* Hotel Metropole in Taormina.

I spent a week in Sicily in May eating my body weight in arancini and discovering my new favourite liquer – Vino di Mandorla (Almond Wine.) On the final night in Taormina, I went to the Metropole for cocktails – admittedly not the first time, but it was certainly worth a return visit for the antipasti alone! A vertitable feast of goodies which, in true Italian style came complimentary with the cocktails. We enjoyed a mojito and an incredibly potent margarita!

The hotel itself has an air of exclusivity about it which proves a good deterrant for your average tourist. Upon entering the main atrium, we were met with the soothing tones of the piano which set the mood on the balcony where we took our place overlooking the sea. Situated on the edge of a cliff, the balcony is literally as close as you can get to the water’s edge (bar the infinity pool below) and has a real atmospheric quality to it.

While away an hour or two before dinner here and it will certainly lift your mood or if you are lucky enough to hit sunset, you can enjoy the blue/pink skies evolve and change before you as the fire burners are lit. This place isn’t cheap, but it’s certainly worth every penny for atmosphere!

Hotel Metropole Taormina – Maison d’Hôtes
Corso Umberto, 154 – 98039 Taormina (Messina) Tel. (+39) 0942 625417

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Gatsby-inspired cocktails

This year is set to be the year of Gatsby! With the movie due out in December in the UK, the arts and fashion scenes are gearing up for 1920s mania and what better excuse to don your finest drop-waist gown and head out for some prohibition-esque activities!

I went to see the stage version of The Great Gatsby on Friday. Hosted at Wilton’s Music Hall, you could not have found yourself in a more authentic location. Located in east London near Tower Hill, Wilton’s Music Hall is all crumbling plaster with a genuine historical charm dating back to around 1743. Now grade 2 listed, it is one of London’s last remaining concert halls. It was as though we had genuinely stepped back in time.

We queued up at the bar while the sounds of Al Johlson and the Charleston set the scene. From Side Cars (brandy, cointreau & lemon juice) to Mint Juleps (bourbon, mint & soda), all the original cokctails were there to choose from. My favourite however, was the punch with gin, maraschino liqueur and elderflower with plenty of berries to top it off.

As we settled into the play, we were all transported to another era and by the end were all wishing this moment in history was something we had somehow been part of. This may have partly been down to numerous cocktails consumed, but there was equally something very exciting about living in these times – especially if we had been lucky enough to have attended one of Jay Gatsby’s house parties!

The Great Gatsby
20th April 2012 – 19th May 2012, Wilton’s Music Hall.

Devastatingly Dabbous

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There’s a new bar in town and it means business! Hidden down a side street in trendy Noho, is Dabbous – the new venture from michelin-starred Ollie Dabbous and cocktail impressario Oskar Kinberg. The fusion of low-lit, fine dining with an industrial-chic basement cocktail bar is the work of these two master craftsmen and as such, is receiving rave reviews around town at present!

The unassuming exterior at first looks as though it’s a stylish lighting shop or gallery. Indeed those of us working nearby, never really clicked it was a restaurant at all. But this is half of the charm and in some ways very au courant – take Spuntino or 10 Greek Street as current examples of this.

Upon entering the dimly lit restaurant, you are met with industrial cantina styling serving up modern british cuisine. However, skip that and head straight to the basement which is a concrete playground with exposed brickwork, wooden trestles and plenty of swagger (the barmen that is!) Cocktails are good – and as you’d expect, there are a number of ‘game changers‘ to get excited about. Take one of the ‘beer-based’ cocktails, such as Giddy Up which contains tequila, elderflower, honey and is topped off with Sierra Navada IPA – impressive!

The bathrooms are unisex and discreetly labelled – in fact it’s almost luck if you can see them at all in the almost pitch-black interior! All in all a good place for cocktails – suitable for impressing clients, entertaining your friends or just a great date. Word of warning though, booking a table is virtually impossible at present due to the popularity of this place, so you may have to settle with a trip to the bar this time! You won’t be disappointed..

Dabbous, 39 Whitfield Street, London, W1T 2SF.

The best club

Friday was a dramatic day for those of us working in media-centric Fitzrovia. The “armed siege” (as dramatically proclaimed on Sky) rather took over our lunch-time conversation. However, we counteracted our fears over whether our office was going to be blown up, by fueling up on fab club sandwiches courtesy of one of the best locals; The Lukin.

I’ve been a fan of this rather shabby pub for some time. A bit rough around the edges, it’s less consciously cool than the other nearby pubs and as a result, gets a roaring trade from our office. And so it was, for the second Friday in a row, I found myself chomping down on their mouthwatering club sandwich.

I’m not the kind of person to EVER opt for a club sandwich. When I think of one, I have visions of soggy bread cut into triangular shapes, with rather pathetic pieces of chicken and bacon, accompanied by sub-standard salad all speared with cocktail sticks. This club is NOT one of those. A magnificant rustic sourdough loaf sliced in half containing a giant piece of straight-off the grill chicken and delightfully smoked bacon served up with skinny fries – this is the club sandwich of champions!

For only £6.70, I’d highly recommend you try it. Oh and while you’re there, make sure you sample some of the home-brand tangy ketchup – it’s spectacular!

The Lukin, 4 Conway Street, W1T 6BB.

Party like you’re Berlusconi

Today is all about dancing! You’ve gotta love it. Give me a large dance floor and the opportunity for a dance-off and I’m there.. so I was in my element this weekend when I finally made it down to Bunga Bunga – the latest venture from the guys behind Maggies and Barts.

Situated in Battersea, just over the bridge from the Kings Road, Bunga Bunga is a pizzeria and karaoke bar which becomes a serious party venue after dark. It’s a lively place with a good sense of humour, kitsch decor and people who aren’t ashamed to let loose on the dance floor. But unlike the original definition of the name, there’s no swingers or corrupt ex-Prime Ministers in there!

We gatecrashed a private party in the glass-roofed Osservatorio room. The walls were covered in vintage astrological charts and peppered with telescopes. It felt as though we’d stepped into an eccentric’s drawing room! The rest of the bar was equally bonkers. From the ground floor where the barmen were dressed as pizza delivery boys to the second floor Eurovision room, it was fun every step of the way!

A word to the wise – be prepared to queue if you get there after midnight. Also, if you’ve been reading the papers recently and are going there to pick up Prince Harry – you may be disappointed. Rumour has it, he’s only actually been there once, although Princess Beatrice was there the same night as us, but you’d be hard-pushed to tell – the upstairs bar is virtually pitch black!

Bunga Bunga, 37 Battersea Bridge Road  London SW11 3BA.