Antonio Lai at Gong Bar – an unforgettable sensory experience

It’s taken me a while to write this. Not because I didn’t want to but because my schedule has been so packed lately that I’ve struggled to catch up with my writing. So it’s lovely to finally sit down, breathe and write.

Antonio Lai at Gong

Last month, Shangri-La, London hosted multi-awarded international mixologist Antonio Lai for three nights at the hotel’s Gong Bar. Antonio pioneered the comprehensive Multisensory Mixology concept in Hong Kong and is the owner of Quinary Bar. So we were very lucky to have him grace us in London even if only for three nights.

Earl Grey Caviar Martini by Antonio Lai

Cocktails on the night

Vanilla Sky, especially created for the night, was made of Italicus infused with cedar wood, Bullet Whiskey, Rosso and bitters with smoky notes. The striking amber shade encased in a classic whiskey glass of cut crystal was a bold move against the other more theatrically presented drinks on the menu.

My favourite was the Earl Grey Caviar Martini (pictured above) made of Ketel One Citron Vodka, Cointreau, elderflower syrup and containing caviar with a dramatic whipped top. Antonio’s knowledge and skill had created an utterly stimulating creation which triggered, as expected, all senses. Colour, texture, aroma and taste all in perfect balance for an incredibly immersive cocktail.

I am Jade was another winner for me. Made of B24, jasmine basil syrup, lemongrass syrup, lime juice and soda water. It was all my favourite things at once; lemongrass, lime juice, jasmine basil. Ingredients which can easily overpower if not used correctly. In this instance of course balanced impeccably with precision which can only be expect from skilled hands.

IMG_4286The evening ended with cocktails served by Shangri-La’s rooftop infinity pool. With whimsical views across London we watched the sun patiently sink against a purple sky. The capital illuminated itself, slowly, one flickering light at a time. We sat spellbound, as dusk unfolded its blanket, savouring the cocktails as patiently as the sunset itself. For a few breathtaking moments everything was synchronised and in perfect harmony just as we always hope it could be.

 

Gong is located at The Shard, 32 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9SG. For more information visit: Gong Bar

 

Top places to get cocktails in London this summer

It’s that time of the year when we dare think of summer no matter what the weather.

Read my full post at Seen in the City

 

 

 

 

 

London Bridge has a brand new local bar

IMG_4537London Bridge has a brand new, swanky local bar with all the hallmarks of a good place for a drink; swinging atmosphere, great service, wonderful drinks and very good food. Let’s not forget the location; 31 Thomas Street. It’s the closest bar to London Bridge station and if you’re walking by you won’t miss the buzzy atmosphere through the floor to ceiling windows. You’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s another among many. Here’s the thing; this is no ordinary bar. It’s Shangri-La’s Bar 31 created by the locals for the locals. Here’s what that means for us.

Food

IMG_4521All the produce for the menu comes from neighbouring Borough market. Expect the best; rice Buddha bowls with egg and kale, pickled avocado, Vietnamese avocado rolls and daily specials such as spiced chicken wings and shepherds pie. It’s world cuisine on a plate via Borough Market. I had the Vietnamese avocado rolls and pickled avocado when I attended the opening and they were sublime. With quality local produce and a menu curated by none other than chef Daniel Mcgarey their sharing plates are nothing short of spectacular.

Drink

For drinks Shangri-La has flexed it’s giant sourcing muscle and gone as far as…their doorstep. (I did say the bar was local). Beers come from Bermondsey Breweries, Hiver Brewery and Anspach & Hobday. Bermondsey Distillery’s Old Tom gin and a whole host of cocktails and Champagnes have also made the cut. A sure-fire summer hit might well be their homemade lemonade followed by an ice cold glass of rosé.

Music

Want to know who provides the live music on Friday and Saturday nights? Buskers. London’s finest street singers from Bermondsey to Piccadilly Circus have been scouted for Bar 31. On opening night we were entertained by Sherika Sherard, Piers Dashfield and Tim Cronin who’s soulful renditions were the perfect backdrop to a beautiful evening.

Verdict

As a Londoner, I can tell you that Bar 31 is as good as London gets. It’s in the heart of the city at an iconic landmark, is a great spot for meeting-up and perfect for showing visitors to London what the city is all about. A mesmerising piece by graffiti artist Mr.Cenz greets you as you walk in, the atmosphere is relaxed and the service is flawless. Add to this Shangri-La’s commitment to the local economy and you’d have to agree that Bar 31 is a credit to London.

A Taste of Manhattan at Madison

City Garden 1

At long last, it almost feels like spring. The temperature may be struggling to hit double digits but our collective spirit has not waned. For an early taste of summer award-winning rooftop bar Madison brings us exceptional news.

Contemporary twist - Berry Smash (6)

Madison launches 12 cocktails inspired by the Big Apple from April (just in time for the long weekends). Curated by the bar’s very own Fred Tartas  of German Gymnasium, The Berkley and The Ritz fame drinks range from timeless Margarita and Moscow Mule to modern twists of Berry Smash (gin, calvados, fresh strawberries, mint, lemon and orange bitters) and Maple & Almond Sour (whisky sour, Armagnac Gaspard, roasted almond, dark chocolate and egg white). The palatial drinks tell the enduring story of New York beginning from the Victorian era through Prohibition to the present. Flavours include bourbon, gin and vodka as well as speciality spirits such as Macchu Pisco.

Contemporary Twist - Maple & Almond Sour (3)

Could I be more excited by this news? Not possible. As far as rooftop drinking goes Madison affords an enviable panorama of the greatest city on earth. A separate VIP area and a gorgeous walkway which affords unforgettable views across the capital simply adds to Madison’s allure. Couple this with a taste of New York and I (along with most Londoners) am sold. Dreams of long hot summers and Manhattan cocktails here we come!

 

 

New Manhattan inspired menu will be available from first week of April. Madison Bar is located at: Rooftop Terrace, One New Change, St Paul’s, London EC4M 9AF. For more information visit  www.madisonlondon.net