Welcome spring in London
It has taken a long time to get here, but spring has finally arrived in the UK and there is nowhere better to celebrate its bounty than London. From enjoying the outdoors to sipping on fresh cocktails and feeling invigorated by seasonal food, the capital is rejuvenated and just bursting with spring energy.
London’s cocktail scene is thriving and there is a libation to suit every occasion. For the coming of spring, mixologists are combining fresh fruit and brightly-coloured spirits with bunches of vibrant herbs and refreshing flavours, all poured over crushed ice.
Make your way to Disrepute in Soho, where you will find the wonderfully zingy rye and apricot sour. This well-rounded cocktail, featuring Canadian rye whisky is served in a champagne saucer with an elegantly tall stem and topped of with a sprig of woody rosemary and fresh lemon peel. It is guaranteed to chase away any thoughts of winter hibernation.
What could be better than enjoying the flavours of bergamot, lemon juice and gin in a cocktail called Tuscan Holiday in a tropical jungle-inspired bar? Not a lot, to be honest. The drinks at Oriole in Farringdon are always a sight to behold and Tuscan Holiday is no exception, with layers of frozen deliciousness piled high on top of an unassuming wine glass.
Not to be outdone, Bertie’s Bar inside the Royal Garden Hotel has its own seasonal cocktail on the menu. Chief mixologist Ioannis has created Spring Remedy, which is a combination of St Germain elderflower liquor, Aberfeldy 12-year-old single malt, Havana three-year-old rum and mint.
BRINGING THE OUTSIDE IN
There are some venues that are just perfect for this time of year, when there is hope in the air, but still a little chill. The Ivy Chelsea Garden is one such place. Its terrace and heated garden perfectly blend the inside with the outdoors, offering the best of both worlds. Order an Angel’s Share cocktail – the Ivy’s take on a mojito, with kumquats, lemongrass and ginger – or the spring tomato broth with ricotta, courgette, orzo, basil and olive croutons to embrace the season.
Another location that seamlessly melds the inside and out is Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings in Clerkenwell. The Garden Room has been painstakingly created to feel as if the formal rooms have been organically overtaken with planting that has gone to seed, with even fully-grown trees occupying the space. The Greenhouse has a similar vibe and is perfect for large private dinner parties. The combination of Sicilian blood orange liqueur, Campari and Aperol lends the Putting on the Spritz cocktail a real feeling of spring.
Spring ingredients are surely some of the most exciting and delicious of the year. One establishment is so enthusiastic that it named itself after this most abundant of seasons. Spring is the brainchild of Australian chef Skye Gyngell and is housed within a restored drawing room in Somerset House. The best seasonal produce – from lamb and asparagus to broad beans and wild garlic – is enabled to shine in tempting style.
Be among the first to dine at Brat, which has just opened in Shoreditch. This grill restaurant is all about cooking seasonal food well and is a wonderful cohesion of Tomos Parry’s influences, which include northern Spain and Wales. Think Welsh lamb, fresh seafood from Cornwall and the freshest of spring vegetables, all cooked on the grill or in a purpose-built wood-fired oven.
It is not just the sunshine that cheers up spring days, but also the flowers that are blooming all over London. From parks to private houses, there are fine examples of planting heralding the coming of spring. One of varieties that screams the season is the daffodil and Green Park is the best place to see them bloom.
Just a half an hour’s walk from the hotel, along the appropriately-named The Flower Walk, the park is home to a million daffodils in springtime. What makes the burst of colour all the more special is that there are no formal flower beds within this green space. It is said that Queen Catherine of Braganza had them all removed after she discovered her husband, Charles II, picking flowers there for his mistress.
See the tulips in Kensington Gardens in all their rich variety of silky colours as you stroll along the paths. The annual tulip display has been a feature of the grounds for more than three centuries, as the first bulbs were planted in the time of Mary Stuart. She was married to William of Orange, which is where the Dutch connection, and therefore the tulips, came from.
Photo credit: Big_Suttawat via iStock