With sunny skies, London awash with blossom, and cocktails drawing on botanicals, drinks in the garden are at their most inviting. Here are some of the best places for al fresco aperitivi.
1. The Goring launches its “living bar”, complete with sustainable living walls and roof on June 1, courtesy of emerging spirits brand Hepple Gin. With an innovative three-stage distillation technique, Hepple Gin (the brainchild of chef and food-writer Valentine Warner and his childhood friend Walter Riddell) promises to reveal botanicals at their most vital. The lush private garden has been planted with English juniper, lovage, blackcurrant and other pillars of Hepple’s distinctive flavour – encouraging guests to immerse themselves in a heady atmosphere. A menu of new cocktails (from £16, first picture) – from Hepple Martini to Botanic Mystery – has been specially created for the occasion, accompanied by gin-inspired bites, such as juniper-cured salmon with black bread.
The Goring Hotel, 15 Beeston Place, London SW1 (020-7396 9000; www.thegoring.com).
2 & 3. Should that tickle the tastebuds for more, D&D London’s #BlossomCity sees a city-wide “Flower Hour” on selected weekdays at 5pm-7pm in restaurants across the capital, offering floral cocktails. Of note is Tanqueray’s menu of herbal and spice infusions (think cardamom Martini), served on Coq d’Argent’s rooftop terrace (May 3-June 30), which accompanies a three-course floral menu by executive chef Damien Rigollet. A slightly more tropical affair can be found at Old Bengal Bar and New Street Grill, where Kipling’s The Jungle Book will be celebrated with a range of spicy cocktails including The Baloo – a mix of Ketel One vodka, Aperol, strawberries, rosewater, lemon juice and tonic. The #BlossomCity initiative raises funds for the Gynaecological Cancer Fund’s Lady Garden campaign by adding a discretionary £1 donation to each table bill.
Coq d’Argent, 1 Poultry, London EC2 (020-7395 5000; www.coqdargent.co.uk).D&D London #BlossomCity, www.blossom-city.danddlondon.com. Old Bengal Bar and New Street Grill, 16A New Street, London EC2 (020-3503 0780; www.oldbengalbar.co.uk).
4. For some, champagne is always the answer, and that means a trip to the iconic Ritz, which has just opened the doors to its Champagne Terrace (third picture). Here, while soaking up the view of one of London’s prettiest Royal Parks, amid floral boxes and under vast parasols, sip on glasses of Billecart-Salmon brut rosé or the Ritz’s very own Ritz Reserve Champagne, which the hotel launched this year with Champagne Barons de Rothschild. Accompanying the fine bubbles is a caviar menu for the peckish.
The Ritz, 150 Piccadilly, London W1 (020-7300 2370; www.theritzlondon.com).
5. And something for the morning after the night before – or those who want to raise an entirely different type of spirit level; a treat is in store at Ham Yard Hotel (second picture). In partnership with upscale high-performance fitness leader Equinox, Ham Yard will be hosting sunrise yoga sessions (from £20) on its leafy roof terrace every Wednesday morning from June 22 for six weeks, with a one-off class on Saturday June 25. Sessions include a healthy brunch (ginger and green-apple shots; avocado on chia-seed, soda-bread toast and poached eggs). Normally only accessible to hotel guests, this beautiful spot on the fourth floor doubles as Ham Yard’s herb and vegetable garden and is home to beehives, honey from which is used in its cocktails – taking us right back to where we started.
Ham Yard Hotel, 1 Ham Yard, London W1 (www.firmdalehotels.com).