After a chilly afternoon spent pin crunching your way along New Bond Street or juggling Christmas shopping bags in and out of black cabs, a warming glass of mulled wine or a rich and comforting mug of hot chocolate or hot choctail is just the answer. Wherever you are in London this winter, there is no shortage of places to toast and get toasty...
The bustling floors of Selfridges may be the last place you want to visit post-retail hit, but make a beeline for their rooftop (take the express lift from the ground floor), where their ‘Forest on the Roof’ awaits. This autumnal inspired woodland pop-up bar and restaurant serves traditional mulled wine, wintry inspired cocktails (try the Truffle Martini or Forest Tonic) and hot choctails including a delicious Gingerbread Choctail (gingerbread liqueur, rum, hot chocolate and whipped cream). There is also afternoon tea and a hearty dinner menu for those with rumbling tummies.
If you’re over in East London, hanging with the cool kids, head up to the iconic Queen of Hoxton’s rooftop, and get lost in their Once Upon A WigWam pop-up winter wonderland, inspired by a fantastical fairytale forest kingdom. Snuggle up on a mushroom stool by a blazing fire pit and get stuck into a festive tipple or two including their Golden Apple, a hot gingerbread and apple toddy, Envious Heart, a sour cherry and apple vodka martini or Egg Snog, no kissing required.
© Queen of Hoxton
If hot cider is your winter warmer of choice, get fuelled up on the good stuff at the Scandinavian themed Rekorderlig Cider Lodge, as part of the Southbank’s Winter Festival. It wouldn’t be a slice of Scandi life without fire pits, Swedish furniture and traditional Swedish food, but the star of the show is of course the hot and cold cider and plenty of it.
In keeping with the European alpine theme, The Montague on the Gardens has transformed their Garden Grill into a fully-fledged alpine adventure, the Montague Ski Lodge. As well as the ubiquitous scattering of snowflakes (there is even falling snow), pine trees, reindeer, snowmen, ski racks and fairy lights, the bar is prepped and primed for the ultimate après ski session. There is a choice of 12 drinks including winter Pimm’s, hot spiced cider, steaming hot chocolate, schnapps and flavoured vodkas.
The Montague on the Gardens
Gordon Ramsay has also brought the alpine action to London, with his York & Albany Winter Chalet, which returns to the courtyard of his townhouse restaurant and bar near Regent’s Park. As you would expect with Mr. Ramsay, the experience here is as much about the food as it is the drinks, so expect a glistening wintry mountain retreat with only the finest festive cocktails and canapés including raclette, venison kromeski and coconut and lychee snowballs. As for the drinks, make mine a chilled mulled cider, that’s cider and prosecco topped with apple-flavoured ice. See you on the floor.
The York & Albany winter chalet
If your idea of festive merry making is less al fresco fire pit and more roaring log fire in a cozy olde-worlde pub, then try The Flask on Highgate Hill. This uber historic pub is full of nooks, crannies and snugs to hide away in and quietly get sozzled on festive ales and mulled wine. The Windsor Castle in Notting Hill is another cozy haunt serving a fab three course festive menu, as well as its renowned unique mulled wine recipe.
Jaz and Jul's
When a non-boozy mid-Christmas shopping pit stop is required, nothing beats a sweet and steaming hot chocolate to warm the cockles and regain shopping strength. Jaz and Jul's at Broadway Market in Hackney is great for East London shoppers while their new chocolate emporium, Chocolate House at Chapel Market in Islington, is ideal for north London goers. As chocolate connoisseurs, Jasmine and Juliet source their single origin chocolate from Peru, Brazil and Madagascar, and offer fun flavours on the classic, including gingerbread, caramel and nine spice, ideal for festive fancies.
Related: Best afternoon teas in London
For more festive flavours, the award winning William Curley in Belgravia and Richmond, serves a yummy ‘Mayan spiced’ blend which is flavoured with festive favourites cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. And wherever you are in London, you are never far from a Hotel Chocolat and their legendary dark hot chocolates, which are oh, so scrumptious.
William Curley © Facebook