Lurking in South London is a gem of a spot: The Lido Cafe at Brockwell Lido. If you didn't know that there is an epic outdoor pool in a leafy park by Brixton, neither did I. Apparently lots of people do though - it's been an institution in South London since it was built in 1937.
The 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Festival is just around the corner and we were fortunate to catch a preview of the ‘World’s Greatest Imaginary Jazz Bar’ at Kansas Smitty's in Broadway Market, just before its month long residency up north throughout August.
Recently I was whisked away from the grey skies of London, to subtropical Cuba, tasked with finding out all about Cuban rum at the hands of its masters, Havana Club rum. One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to the Havana Club distillery, not normally open to the public!
Cuba has been known as the Isle of Rum since it was first introduced to sugar cane by Christopher Columbus in 1493. At one point there were over 1,000 distilleries in Cuba, and nowadays Havana Club embodies Cuban rum, exporting to over 120 countries and selling over 50 million bottles a year. That's some serious volume churning out of the island's distilleries, and some serious pressure with every bottling! I was excited to head down and check it out...
Summer's here and it's time to dust off those shorts, drag the BBQ out of the shed and get involved in some serious summertime slurpage. For me, nothing goes better with sunshine than a delicious rum cocktail and I learnt how to make them best in their spiritual home: Havana, Cuba (link here)! Here are some of my favourite cocktail recipes - get shaking!
The Mojito - Rum Punch - Frozen Daiquiri - Classic Daiquiri
Great hunks of barbequed meat, rice and peas, goat curry, and pepperpot stew. Caribbean food, though a rare pleasure, is one of my favourite cuisines. Perhaps it’s the quite unbelievable fusion of different influences (African, East Indian, Arab, Chinese, and many more), or maybe it’s the fact it feels so unfussy, homely, and unsophisticated, reminiscent of the best home cooking.
There's a soulful place in Soho, cheeky with Italian charm, brimming with cocktails, the almost permanent buzz of blues music spilling out from its doorway onto Old Compton Street: RustiKo restaurant.
The interior is quirky and comfortable, and downstairs is a cute new bar called The Shed too, serving cocktails, speciality Proseccos and aperitifs (Italian in style, of course!). The menu is large and reasonably priced, with pizza/pasta mains around the £9-11 mark, meaty ones between £14 and £18.
You can’t beat a good supper club. It’s that perfect midway between a high-quality meal in a restaurant and a dinner party at home. Nowadays, there’s plenty to choose from in London, but on this occasion I was invited down to dine with 12 other guests at The Punchbowl in Mayfair.
Where there is tiki, there is me. A statement, simply put but true. As a lover of rum cocktails, I love the drinks culture and the accompanying 'party vibe' doesn't go amiss either. So when The Beachcomber opened up recently in Paddington, with food by the fabulous Creole Kitchen, I was there in a flash to get my tiki awnnnnn.
What happens when you mix cocktails, coffee, a restaurant, barbers and a slide? No this isn’t a ‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’ joke, although the answer would probably be to get to this new spot in Wapping. TRADE UNION has just opened its doors to what can only be described as an adult playground, there’s even a florist too!
Havana has been a mecca for all cocktail lovers, not just Ernest Hemingway, since the start of the 20th century, when Prohibition drove tens of thousands of American bartenders to Cuba, - after all it’s only 90 miles below Florida! Difford’s Guide tells us that by 1928 90,000 people were flying over a year and there were thousands of new bars opening in Havana. This americanised the Cuban cocktail scene and this melting pot of cultures and Cuban rum birthed the creation of some of the most iconic cocktails known today: The Mojito, Cuba Libre, Daiquiri and the El Presidente, to name but a few.
Today the cocktail bar scene is as vibrant as it was then, and many of these old bars still stand today. I went on a tour of these classic bars with Havana Club Cuban rum brand. Check out my list of the best places to check out and what to drink there!
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