Can the Chinese God of Love save Valentine’s Day?

Two Valentine's Day cocktails tied together with red silk ribbon
Valentine’s Day cocktails tied with silk ribbon

Yep, it’s almost here. Valentine’s Day. The day that we can unashamedly celebrate how we feel about our significant other or anyone else for that matter. Year after year it raises the inevitable question of how or where is best for celebrating love. Restaurants are over-booked, bars over-crowded and weekends-away will almost always be spent with other couples who also attempted to get away. So who can save Valentine’s Day?

Cue Yue Lao, the immortal Chinese God of Love. Yue Lao translates to old man under the moon. In Chinese mythology he appears at night under the moon and ties divinely fated couples with silken cord. It’s believed that once this is done nothing can prevent their union.

This February we invite Yue Lao to work his magic over London. GŎNG Bar at Shangri-La at The Shard has created two his and hers cocktails bound together with a red ribbon to evoke the spirit of Yue Lao.

His is a peaty mixture with a meaty bite; Talisker, Mastiha, Cocchi Americano and yuzu with lavender bitters. It’s served with a cone of beef biltong. Needless to say the flavour pairings of salted beef with the smokey whisky and yuzu is heavenly indeed.

Hers is shaken Champagne in a flute garnished with rather romantic crushed rose petals. It’s crafted with Peter in Florence London Dry Gin, Noilly Prat Dry, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, lapsang, cranberry, orange blossom and raspberry blanc de blancs foam. Sip it slowly and it transforms into a full bodied, perfectly balanced drink.

Yue Lao cocktails can be ordered together in any combination; His and His, His and Hers or Hers and Hers. Be sure to experience them between 11th – 17th February at GŎNG Bar. Cocktails cost £20 each or together with single red rose for £45. Book in advance so you won’t have to share your romantic moments with anyone else.

A romantic table setting overlooking Tower Bridge
A candle-lit Valentine’s Day dinner over London

Once your romantic fate has been bound you may continue your evening on the 35th floor at TĪNG Restaurant which has created a very special Valentine’s Day experience. Between 14th – 17th February London can enjoy a three course menu priced at £85 per person or £140 per person with wine pairing and a glass of Champagne.

Scrumptious dishes on the menu include Cornish halibut and parsley velouté and braised haunch of roe deer with smoked beetroot and red cabbage. A meat-free option of foraged mushrooms, pickled onion, Jerusalem artichoke and mushroom tea is also on offer. Has Yue Lao saved Valentine’s Day? I certainly think so.

For more information visit: www.the-shard.com/shangri-la

Shangri-La London launches new cocktail menu at Gŏng Bar

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It’s October and we’re finally allowed to utter the C-word. Yes, it’s cocktail season and we’re ready to indulge. London’s Gōng Bar has taken this readiness to dizzying new heights. The bar’s new cocktail menu entitled A Miscellany of Inventions was unveiled just in time for the festive season.

It’s an acknowledgement of the incredible innovations that have impacted society and transformed the world we live in today. A total of 18 cocktails follow the journey of inventions which changed the course of humanity; an ambitious undertaking as well as an unusual one.

A Miscellany of Inventions is divided into five categories; floral and delicate, fruity and citrusy, bitter and sweet, punchy and long finish and non-alcoholic. My favourites of the menu included Director’s Cut (pictured above) which celebrates the birth of the motion picture. Served with buttered corn it combines Don Julio Blanco, elderflower and lime. Cooperman which is an aperitif with fruity notes honours the invention of the barrel; Nikka single-barrel Whisky, Ginjo sake infused Mastiha with melon and citrus make for a supreme cocktail.

The creation of the menu has been a labour of love for head bartender Christian Maspes and his team. He says of the new menu,

The cocktails bring to life inventions that have been real breakthroughs. It is hard to imagine the world we know today without screwdrivers and computers, and movies and guitars. Creating a new invention is like taking a leap of faith and being open to the possibilities and the same goes for the creation of a new cocktail. We really enjoyed bringing our ideas to life and we look forward to entertaining our guests with our unique creations.

For those with a more adventurous spirit there is also Look no Hands which celebrates the invention of the bicycle. The drink combines Copper Dog Whisky, triple sec, an IPA reduction and Fernet-Branca and is served complete with a bamboo bicycle.

If you’re Sober for October you might try La Dolce Vita which is one of the non-alcoholic options. With flavours of  coconut milk, halva, grapefruit and lime blended  to create a creamy and zesty finish it’s a fitting tribute to the creation of gelato.

As London begins to shift gear for the holiday season Gōng offers a fresh approach to the new season. Being the highest hotel bar in Western Europe, with unparalleled views across the city, it invites us to change rhythm in graceful refinement. Combined with Shangri-La’s exquisite hospitality it’s surely a call we must heed. Who would we be to resist?

 

 

Gōng Bar is located at: Level 52, Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard, London SE1 9QU. For more information visit: www.the-shard.com/restaurants/gong/

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