Fairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar

Once upon a time, in the heart of London, there was a magical cocktail bar called St James Bar.

Fairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar, London / Cake + Whisky

Inspired by Coco Chanel’s 1920’s Paris appartment, it was aluxurious and elegant place, with a dark marble bar, velvet seats and painted paneling.

Fairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar, London / Cake + Whisky

The bar itself was a bit of an alchemist’s den and hosted a myriad of little vials.

Bitters, shrubs, syrups and liquors lined up on mirror shelves, each a key component for the fairy tale cocktails concocted by the gifted team of bartenders.

Fairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar, London / Cake + Whisky

The cocktail menu, taking inspiration from classic tales, read like a fables’ book and making a choice was no easy fate.

Should I follow Peter to Neverland or Pinocchio in his mischievious adventures?

Should I watch in awe as Belle’s & the Beast’s love unfold before my eye or join Alice in her race with the White Rabbit?

Fairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar, London / Cake + WhiskyFairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar, London / Cake + Whisky

But in the end, diamonds are a girl’s best friend, so it had to be the Satine’s Dilemna.

Fairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar, London / Cake + WhiskyFairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar, London / Cake + Whisky

Combining sweet and sour flavours, this subtly floral cocktail arrived topped with red rose petals and an edible diamond.

Just like it’s namesake, it’s entrance definitely made an impression!

Fairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar, London / Cake + Whisky

A heavenly mix of Botanist gin, rose syrup, plum bitters, lemon juice, homemade grape shrub and bitter foam.

And just like Satine’s aspirations, it’s perfectly balanced.

Fairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar, London / Cake + Whisky

My second choice was a bit wilder – but that’s just how life is when you’re a Lost Boy Girl!

Fairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar, London / Cake + Whisky

A playful take on the classic Negroni, the Fear O’ Clock  is a great representation of the story of the boy who doesn’t want to grow up.

Fairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar, London / Cake + Whisky

And on that note, tick-tock, time’s up!

Race you to St James Bar for Friday celebratory cocktails?

St James Bar at Sofitel London St James, 6 Waterloo Pl, St. James’s, London SW1Y 4AN

More on cocktails

A British Cocktail Masterclass at Hixter

Autumn Cocktails at TwoRuba

Cocktails & Magic at Mr Fogg’s

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Fairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar

Autumn cocktails at TwoRuba

It’s getting cold and crisp outside, and the weekend’s almost there…

You know what that mean – time’s just right for some Autumn cocktails.

Luckily, I know just the place.

TwoRuba ● London cocktail bar ● Cake + Whisky

Nestled inside the Hilton London Tower Bridge hotel, TwoRuba’s has quite the reputation for serving the best crafted cocktails in the area.

TwoRuba ● London cocktail bar ● Cake + WhiskyTwoRuba ● London cocktail bar ● Cake + Whisky

Their new autumn menu definitely holds up to that reputation.

Filled with expertly crafted seasonal creations and twists on the classics, it’s filled with perfectly balanced and innovative concoctions.

And when it comes to naming their creative elixirs, the team doesn’t shy away from a good pun – just the way to my heart!

TwoRuba ● London cocktail bar ● Cake + Whisky

So what will it be?

Scary Mary? Autumn Lady (a gin sour with a ginger kick) ? Or the ever elusive, unicorn-worthy Rainbow cocktail?

TwoRuba ● London cocktail bar ● Cake + WhiskyTwoRuba ● London cocktail bar ● Cake + WhiskyTwoRuba ● London cocktail bar ● Cake + Whisky

Orange juice, grenadine, vodka and curaçao, beautifully layered into a tall glass.

TwoRuba ● London cocktail bar ● Cake + Whisky

And garnished with delicate flowers to create the most ranunculus-ly gorgeous drink I’ve ever seen.

TwoRuba ● London cocktail bar ● Cake + WhiskyTwoRuba ● London cocktail bar ● Cake + Whisky

Having tried my hands at recreating the above wonder, I can confirm it’s not quite as easy as the pros make it seem.

TwoRuba ● London cocktail bar ● Cake + Whisky

So better leave it to TwoRuba’s to make your fall Fridays rainbow and unicorns kind of days!

TwoRuba, Hilton London Tower Bridge, 5 Tooley St, London SE1 2BY

More things to do by the River

A walk along the Thames

Exploring London’s Bankside

Padella

Shopping at the Borough Market

Autumn cocktails at TwoRuba

London’s Dry Martini Bar

Hidden at the heart of the rather unassuming MĂ©lia White House Hotel, London’s Dry Martini Bar is a cocktail bar like no other and a must visit for Bond-wannabes and true martini lovers alike.

HotJoint launch at Dry Martini Bar London

The first of its name in the UK, this unique bar pulls together the sophistication of the marble-clad hotel and the traditions and heritage the Dry Martini Bar trademark is built upon.

HotJoint launch at Dry Martini Bar London

The Meliá White House was built in 1936 and was originally launched as The White House luxury apartments. The hotel’s building still preserves its architectural value as a prime example of late 1930s architecture.

HotJoint launch at Dry Martini Bar London HotJoint launch at Dry Martini Bar London

MĂ©lia White House boasts an eclectic style, where contemporary design meets classic.

The area hosting London’s Dry Martini Bar, with its resolutely modern Spanish surrealist art selection, art deco stylings and blues and rock soundtrack, illustrates this perfectly.

HotJoint launch at Dry Martini Bar LondonHotJoint launch at Dry Martini Bar London

But the true gem in the room is the bar itself.

HotJoint launch at Dry Martini Bar London

Inspired by the glamourous 1920s, with its leather chairs and polished brass details, it’s a jewel in its own right.

HotJoint launch at Dry Martini Bar LondonHotJoint launch at Dry Martini Bar London

And a really well stocked one at that!

Dozens of whiskies, about as many rum varieties…

And enough bottles of gin & vodka to make any martini lover’s head spin with the endless possibilities opening to them…

HotJoint launch at Dry Martini Bar LondonHotJoint launch at Dry Martini Bar London

The perfect spot for the ultimate Martini-mixing lesson*!

HotJoint launch at Dry Martini Bar London

Under the watchful eye of bar manager and expert mixologist Diego Cruz, we take turn behind the bar to stir the perfect classic Martini.

Which is much more work that the simple-looking cocktail might let you think.

HotJoint launch at Dry Martini Bar London

First, fill a cocktail mixing glass with ice. Use a bar spoon to swirl it around a few times to cool it down.

HotJoint launch at Dry Martini Bar London

Remove the excess water.

HotJoint launch at Dry Martini Bar LondonHotJoint launch at Dry Martini Bar London

Pour in a double measure of your poison of choice (this would be mine, in case you were wondering)…

HotJoint launch at Dry Martini Bar London

Add a few drops of sweet vermouth and stir carefully with a bar spoon.

Make sure not to bang the ice to much as this would result in a more diluted Martini, miles away from the potent, botanical-heavy beast a proper dry martini is.

HotJoint launch at Dry Martini Bar London

Strain through a Hawthorne strainer into a clean, chilled martini glass.

HotJoint launch at Dry Martini Bar London

Up to the very last drop!

HotJoint launch at Dry Martini Bar London

Twist some lemon peel over the glass to express oils, then rub around rim of glass.

HotJoint launch at Dry Martini Bar LondonHotJoint launch at Dry Martini Bar London

Garnish with the lemon peel or an olive.

HotJoint launch at Dry Martini Bar London

Actually, if you’re mixing one for me, make it two olives.

HotJoint launch at Dry Martini Bar London

I like my Martini like I like my men: with a pinch of salt, slightly dirty and concerned about preserving the environment, if only to make sure there’ll always be enough ice to mix a proper Martini whenever one’s necessary.

Dry Martini Bar London, Meliå White House, Albany St, London NW1 3UP

*I was invited to attend a Martini masterclass at London’s Dry Martini Bar by HotJoint, London’s latest food website, aiming at bringing together the capital’s foodies to tell the stories of the city’s best eating and drinking venues. A little bird tells me they’re planning many more fun events of that kind in the new year, so make sure you subscribe to their newsletter to know what’s cooking!

London’s Dry Martini Bar

Absurd Bird, Soho

I first fell in love with Deep South American classics when we visited New Orleans a bit over a year ago.

The weather this past few day had me reminissing about that trip, craving the heat, the Bourbon Street atmosphere, the music, and most of all, the food!

Luckily, there’s no food you can’t find in London, and if you’re after some soul-warming American South comfort food, I know just the place!

Absurd Bird restaurant, Soho, London

Nestled at the heart of always bubbly Soho, Absurd Bird feels like a little slice of the Deep South, with all the contradictions it involves.

Nostalgic and modern, humble and sophisticated, comfortable and innovative…

Absurd Bird, Soho, London Absurd Bird, Soho, London

Upstairs is all about the open kitchen and Absurd Bird’s signature Moonshine lampshades, but downstairs is the true hidden gem.

Absurd Bird restaurant, Soho, London Absurd Bird restaurant, Soho, London

An inviting basement den, complete with an intimate hideaway bar and cosy dining space, all absolutely NOLA-worthy…

The cocktails truly live up to the expectations as well.

Absurd Bird, Soho

Moonshine’s Mary

A fiery take on the bloody classic made with the restaurant own distilled Absurd Moonshine.

Absurd Bird, Soho

Hillbilly Iced Tea (Monshine, Lipton peach iced tea, syrup, lemon juice)

A light & refereshing drink that’s perfect to accompany all the spicy, crispy deliciousness to come.

Absurd Bird, Soho Absurd Bird, Soho

Starting with an all-round favourite: the Spinach and Artichoke Dip, served with giant fried tortilla chips.

Absurd Bird, Soho Absurd Bird, Soho

Creamy & zingy, this classic American dip is absolutely addictive and perfect for sharing!

Absurd Bird, SohoAbsurd Bird, Soho

Jalapeno Cheese Biscuits with apple butter

Crumbly, cheesy and spicy, they’re an absolute triumph.

Not that it takes away from the star of the show at Absurd Bird.

Absurd Bird, Soho

The chicken.

Superstar, free-range chicken from Fosse Meadows farm, all marinated in Absurd Bird’s secret sauces and cooked in a variety of ways, each more delicious than the next.

Absurd Bird, Soho

The wings come in 5 different flavours, ranging from the classic Crispy fried buttermilk version to the more unexpected Smoked garlic, parmesan & lemon one and seriously fiery Buffalo wings.

Absurd Bird, Soho

All are finger-licking good, the perfect balance of super moist chicken, crispy batter & amazing sauces.

The kind of thing you can’t just wing!

Absurd Bird, Soho

Big Mama’s Favourite

A generous helping of perfectly-cooked, Southern style smoked chicken served with sweet gravy

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Dirty Buns (fried chicken, spicy mayo and pickle served in sweet milk buns)

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Chicken and Waffles with smoked sweet gravy & maple syrup

Absurd Bird, Soho

Popcorn chicken waffle cone.

A quirky, genius take on the chicken wrap, complete with fresh tomato, salad and a generous drizzle of spicy mayo.

Chicken Sliders at Absurd Bird, Soho

Fried Chicken Sliders (with bacon jam, pimento cheese, potato bun).

An obvious winner.

 

Especially when served alongside some irresistible sides…

Absurd Bird, Soho

French fries and Spicy sweet potato fries

The kind that’d give the old ‘Fries before guys’ thing a whole lot of sense!

Absurd Bird, Soho Absurd Bird, Soho

Jalapeno Mac & Cheese 

Almost an exact twin to my own recipe and an absolute must-order.

Sweet potato bake at Absurd Bird, Soho Sweet potato bake at Absurd Bird, Soho

…and the divisive Sweet potato bake with toasted marshmallows (not really my thing, but if you’re into that sort of things, go for it!)

absurd-bird-soho-32 Absurd Bird restaurant, Soho, London

All topped off with insanely good, home-baked desserts, including Crack Pie (just as addictive as the name suggests), a rich & indulgent Peanut Butter Cheese Cake (perfect for sharing) and impossible-to-resist warm Choc Chip Cookies, served with the cutest mini milk bottle.

The (Deep South) American dream, in dessert form and definitely one of the many, many reasons to chicken Absurd Bird menu!

I’m sure you won’t have too much difficulty finding friends to come along, the place’s an absolute chick magnet, but if you do go with a big(ish) group, make sure you book ahead!

Absurd Bird, 5 Peter Street, London W1F 0AH

Absurd Bird, Soho

A taste of Africa at Comptoir GĂ©nĂ©ral, Paris

If by day, Paris is the city of love, by night, it’s really quite the spot to party!

Of course, there are plenty of clubs in town, but what Paris truly excels at is the understated, intimate sort of party.

Rooftops & champagne bars, teeny-tiny wine bars, and everything in between, it has nothing in common with London’s sweaty clubs and their ‘are-you-kidding-me’ priced drinks.

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

And the place to be to party the Parisian-way?

The holly hipster area between République and the Canal Saint Martin!

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

At daytime, it’s home to loads of small clothes & home boutiques, with loads of street art and a handful of nice coffee shops and cafĂ©s…

But at night, it’s all about the underground, speakeasy-like bars!

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Hidden behind a door that looks just like any other one, at the back of an absolutely ordinary courtyard, is my favourite of them all: Comptoir Général.

If it wasn’t for the bodyguards (and the constant flow of people), you’d never know it was there…

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

The rather grand entrance sets the tone in terms of decor.

Think colonial palace meets dirty-around-the-edge brothel, with a hint of flea market added in for good measure.

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

It even gets quite random at times, with a full-sized tiki bar…

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

… and a full size pirate boat to match!

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Which is all rather weird if you think about it, but Comptoir Général is really all about discovering & exploring obscure, marginal & under-estimated cultures from around the world.

And the thing is, the atmosphere you get from those seemingly juxtaposed bits is simply fantastic.

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Authentic and relax, fun, very, very bo-bo (bourgeois-bohĂšme, Paris’ answer to our hipster culture!) and a little bit dirty around the edges…

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Trendy Parisians come in group, with their friends, their parents and even their dogs for a couple of cocktails, a bite to eat and the garantee of a great time.

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

There’s a small but to-the-point cocktail list, with brilliant African-inspired drinks full of tropical flavours.

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

The Draquecito: rum, lime, cane sugar & mint

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Basically a pimped-up mojito, and just as refreshing as you’d expect!

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Punch Bimbo, a citrus-y take on the Caribbean classic.

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

And a few too many glasses of the obligatory Planteur.

In hintsight, a few less of those would have been wiser, but the combination of rum, orange, pineapple, guava and mango was just too good to resist!

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Starving and a little bit tipsy, we made our way to the next room in search of some nibbles to match.

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + WhiskyA Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + WhiskyA Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + WhiskyA Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

With that same flea-market-y feel that runs through the whole thing, super friendly staff & a short-and-sweet sort of menu, Comptoir GĂ©nĂ©ral’s restaurant is basically a piece of central Africa in the heart of Paris.

With food to match!

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

We started off with a double order of a Salt Cod puffs with ‘Chien‘ dipping sauce.

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Delightfully light and subtle fish doughnuts, and not one dog in sight in the sauce!

Despite it’s name, the traditional dipping sauce from Martinique is actually made of herbs, garlic, chilli, lemon & oil.

Sour, fresh and rather pungent, its the perfect accompaniment to cut through the richness of the salt cod puffs!

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + WhiskyA Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Corn hush puppies with fiery Chipotle mayo

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Followed by the Special of the day, an Indian-inspired burger.

A vibrant and tasty hommage to the flavours of India, that are becoming more and more popular in Africa.

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

And an excellent Chicken Maffé (a traditional peanut-based stew from Sénégal), which took me back to a trip to Africa I did many years ago.

Down to Earth, homely food that tastes just like what an Africa Mamma would cook, good cocktails, some cracking music and a winning experience everytime, Comptoir Général is the perfect place to get a taste of Africa in the heart of Paris!

Go with friends, book a table and stay ’til late… It’s always a fun place to be!

PIN FOR LATER:

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

A taste of Africa at Comptoir GĂ©nĂ©ral, Paris

Summer SoirĂ©e at Le MĂ©ridien Piccadilly

When it comes to summer holidays, you can’t beat the French Riviera.

With blue sea, blue sky, picturesque villages, quiet beaches and fantastic food, no wonder it’s been the playground of the rich & famous for so long!

However, no need to be rich or famous (or even to face the dreadful summer holiday airport check-in lines) to experience this little piece of Summer heaven, because Le Méridien Piccadilly is bringing Nice to London for the Summer!

Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + WhiskyLe Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky

Nod to the French origins of the brand, Le MĂ©ridien Piccadilly’s restaurant, Terrace Bar & Grill, has been transformed into an idyllic coastal resort.

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Complete with striped sun loungers, sun umbrellas, blossoming climbing plants, espadrilles and a spot of apéritif

Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky

… and even a pĂ©tanque field!

The iconic French sport is a favourite at family gatherings and a classic beachside hobby.

Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky

The rules are really quite simple: you throw the small ball (the ‘cochonnet‘) first, and then it’s all about getting the big, metal balls as close as possible to it.

Whether you play in a tĂȘte-Ă -tĂȘte (one-on-one) or in teams, it’s always great fun and perfect to work up an appetite!

Which you’ll most definitely need to make the most of the antipasti menu, all inspired by classic Niçois dishes.

Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky

Beautiful Artichoke Barigoule with creamy aioli.

Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky

Mini pots of melt-in-the-mouth Daube Provençale with carrots and olives.

Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky

Pan Bagnat (a tuna-filled bun & Nice’s answer to burgers!) and PissaladiĂšre mini Tarte Tatin.

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Niçoise salad (of course).

Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky

And the cutest little macarons!

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All washed down with icy glasses of Sifflet cocktails (martini Bianco, Champagne, mandarin syrup & citrus zest).

Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky

And a glass or two of crisp local wine (when in France…)

Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky

… or, get two birds with one stone & indulge your French fashion fix with the Cocktail Espadrilles.

The perfect summer drink + the perfect Summer shoes? Summer packing’s never been that easy!

Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky

Which means more time to soak in the sunshine of the French Riviera!

So gather friends, book a nice big table, put on your stripy Tees and enjoy the Summer vibes!

Summer SoirĂ©e at Le MĂ©ridien Piccadilly

Stripes & Cocktails at Bunga Bunga

You can’t beat a girl’s night out.

Life often gets in the way, everyone’s busy, so it can be difficult to put a date in the diary.

But once in a while, when you do manage to get a group of your favourite people together for a proper catch up
 It’s just magic.

It was Bunga Bunga, the infamous Battersea Bridge pizzeria & Italian-themed bar, which finally gave us all an excuse to get together.

It’s been going through a bit of a refurb’ lately (and it was a rather polemic one) so, just as you would with a girlfriend that suddently went platinum blonde, it was our duty to show our support.

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But to be honest, I’m not sure why there’s been so much noise as it now looks better than ever!

Inside, they kept the same fun-filled, quirky bits…

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Including the famous motorcycles on the ceiling.

Stripes & Cocktails at Bunga Bunga | Cake + Whisky

And a whole lot of pickpocket-proofed bags!

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And they went full-on Italian outside by painting the facade in red, white and green!

Stripes & Cocktails at Bunga Bunga | Cake + Whisky

Plus they still serve the same great sharing platters…

Stripes & Cocktails at Bunga Bunga | Cake + Whisky

Boasting all your Italian favourite nibbles, from arancini to bruschetta, polenta chips, parmigiana and much, much more!

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Absolutely impossible to resist!

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But the best part is the fantastico new cocktail menu.

All inspired by Italian regions and their world-famous ingredients.

And there’s nothing quite like cocktails to fuel long-overdue catch ups!

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Even better when made and served by lovely, chatty bartenders in the most adorable stripped Tees.

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Stirred, shaken and served in the blink of an eye!

Stripes & Cocktails at Bunga Bunga | Cake + Whisky

Piemonte (Mount Gay Black Barrel rum, Fernet Branca liqueur, Mancino Bianco Ambrato vermouth, Peychaud’s bitters & home-made bitter syrup)

Stripes & Cocktails at Bunga Bunga | Cake + Whisky

Veneto (Bombay Sapphire gin, elderflower syrup, fresh lemon juice, home-made sugar syrup & fresh green grapes)

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Cocktails flying to nearby tables will make you want to get one of each.

Fear of missing out much?

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Good thing the gondola driver/cocktail guys have made skills and are fast as lightning!

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Marche (Dewar’s White Label Scotch whisky, Visciolata del Cardinale dessert wine, Amaro Averna liqueur, Luxardo maraschino liqueur, fresh lime juice & home-made maraschino syrup).

And cherry on top: a white chocolate covered cherry. Divine.

Stripes & Cocktails at Bunga Bunga | Cake + Whisky

Lombardia (Bacardi Carta Blanca rum, Tia Maria liqueur, Amaretto Disaronno liqueur, home-made cocoa nibs & amaretti biscuit syrup topped up with double cream).

Pudding-worthy!

Stripes & Cocktails at Bunga Bunga | Cake + Whisky

Lazio (VII Hills gin, Cynar artichoke liqueur, Frangelico hazelnut liqueur, fresh lime juice & home-made rosemary syrup)

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SO fresh and fragrant and probably my favourite of the night.

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Alongside some vino.

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And a few old favourites…

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Whisky, cherry and chilli concoction of dreams.

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And a couple of Bunga Bunga’s iconic David Punch.

Stripes & Cocktails at Bunga Bunga | Cake + Whisky

Going to Bunga Bunga can be a bit of a trek if you’re not an SW11 resident, but it’s one that’s very much worth taking!

Book a table, take a group of friends, the more the merrier. There’s great cocktails, delightful finger food and even karaoke, it’s very relaxed and always great fun! You’re going to love it!

Bunga Bunga, 37 Battersea Bridge Rd, London SW11 3BA

Stripes & Cocktails at Bunga Bunga