Cresta Bar at The Goring
The pop-up Cresta Bar at The Goring (the hotel in which Kate famously spent her last night as a Middleton) is a tribute to the Goring family’s skiing holidays in the glitzy Swiss resort of St Moritz. Hidden out the back of family-run The Goring’s sumptuous hotel bar, this cosy wooden outdoor den is decked out with cuckoo clocks, portraits and memorabilia from the famous Cresta Run. Attentive knitwear-clad waiters bring your drinks to candlelit tables while you wrap up in cashmere throws and look out onto The Goring’s private garden.
Festive cocktail recipes have been created for the occasion by Benjamin Wolf, master sommelier at the Kulm Hotel in St Mortiz; warm up with a Cresta Punch – a glass of hot, spiced ginger wine with apple juice, honey and calvados, finished with a cinnamon stick perched on the top to enhance the festive aroma as you sip. Thrills & Spills is a bit more refreshing, with gin and Aperol adding potency to fresh orange and lime juice with delicate elderflower cordial.
The Goring’s Michelin-starred kitchen has created a selection of snacks and canapés to go with the drinks; still-warm potato chips, indulgent tartiflette, duck rillettes with crunchy gherkins and charcoaled sourdough, and comforting croquettes made with Arbroath Smokies (salted haddock fillets smoked over a beech and oak wood fire in a whiskey barrel pit). A twinkling Christmas tree in the adjoining garden adds to the festive twist, while Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra purr from the gramophone, oozing old-school glamour.
Until 28 February 2017; thegoring.com
Skye Halla at Queen of Hoxton
The six-flight ascent to the roof of the Queen of Hoxton is well worth it, as the rooftop bar is transformed into a Nordic Viking den. This year, the winter wigwam will be made all cosy and “hygge” with fire pits, driftwood sculpture and snuggly blankets and rugs.
Knock back hot mead from a rustic drinking horn or sip on foraged festive cocktails from the long boat bar – think nettle martinis with elderflower and punch with rosemary and green grass vodka. Hot buttered rum is the speciality, and we can see why – its a slow-brewed concoction of festive spices and buttery warm apple juice, with a slosh of Sailor Jerrys, a slice of orange and a sprinkle of cloves to finish off.
Communal banqueting tables host feasts of pork belly hotpot with apples, salmon rosti with wild garlic and pickled sweet and sour red cabbage, and slow braised turkey leg glazed with sloe gin gravy.
Until 31 March 2017; queenofhoxton.com
The Lodge Clapham
Snuggle into the cowhide banquette that curves down the side of this pop-up chalet and throw a tartan rug over your lap. The theme is alpine (go one step further and check out our top foodie alpine trips) – rickety antique skis are mounted onto the wall, an installation of tree trunks disappears up through the middle of the roof and tealights and fir cones dress windows that overlook the buzz of Clapham High Street. Start with a Swiss wine or an après ski-inspired cocktail (the mulled cider is warming and subtly spiced, with an extra hit of ginger, and the buttered rum is seriously indulgent with spiced butter, pineapple and a whipped meringue topping).
The speciality is rich Alpine fondue (here are our top fondue tips) with plenty of bits to dunk in (try the wild boar and apple sausages), but the small plates are definitely worth starting with. Gin-cured salmon cuts like butter and has little cubes of pickled cucumber and punchy horseradish yogurt to dress. Crunchy sautéed green beans are given a serious umami hit with jamon Serrano, anchovy salad cream and toasted hazlenuts. Smoky Reblochon and bacon croquettes are creamy and comforting.
If you don’t fancy fondue, try cote de boeuf with Bearnaise sauce, baked turbot with clams or a Barnsley chop instead.
Until 28 February; thelodgeclapham.com
Christmess at The Vaults
The Vaults in Waterloo have been transformed into a Christmas wonderland, complete with a weekend market packed with artisan traders. Share stories and drink spiced whisky shots with Father Christmas in his lavish grotto, let the absinthe fairy give you a personalised magic potion in her tiny hidden den and dance to the live music at the Naughty or Nice bar.
For more than a flying visit, go all out and book in for one of several festive dining events hosted upstairs by soul food specialists’ Slap Ya Papa. Bang your cutlery on the table at this Louisiana-style banquet to summon elves, a larger-than-life Father Christmas and his fantastical helpers.
Kick off with a Christmas toast and a shot of cinnamon-whisky liquor before getting stuck into fall-apart honey-glazed ham, Cajun-roast turkey and shrimp remoulade with a whole host of Deep Southern sides (make sure you try the marshmallow-topped sweet potato). Save space for dessert, though, a twist on Eton Mess served straight to the table to share. Live New-Orleans style jazz (check out the singer’s 10-piece harmonica set) sets the tone for dancing on the tables, stamping and knocking back festive cocktails.
Until 18 December; thevaults.london
Little Feast at Shepherd’s Bush Yard has been transformed into a winter garden. Hundreds of fairy lights give a magical glow and there are plenty of spots to snuggle into between the Christmas trees for that authentic winter wonderland feel.
Five wooden huts will be selling the event’s trademark street eats – including crab burgers and mac ‘n’ cheese (here are our favourite macaroni cheese recipes) from CLAW, spicy pork confit Taiwanese buns from Le Bao and Nanny Bill’s comforting croquettes (try the creamy pea and feta version). A decked-out bar will be serving mulled ciders, wine, cocktails and craft beers.
Until 23 December; wefeast.co.uk
Written by Alex Crossley, November 2016