Best for fairytale charm: Once Upon A Wigwam at Queen of Hoxton
The six-flight ascent to the roof of the Queen of Hoxton is well worth it, as the giant keyhole at the top transports you into a wigwam, complete with a carpet of wood chippings and tree stump stools. Climb the tree in the middle for a wintery drink or two with a different perspective on the Grimm brothers’ fairytale-inspired décor.
Hot buttered rum is the speciality, and we can see why – 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. The goblet of Gardener’s Grog is another warming choice, with hot blackcurrant, blackberry and a savoury rosemary note, spiked with Hendricks. Sit round an open fire on the rooftop outside the wigwam and tuck into chicken schnitzel with caramelised applesauce, or ‘Three Little Pigs’ – pork loin, sausage meat and crispy crackling with spiced apple sauce in a bun.
Queen of Hoxton rooftop, 1 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3JX; queenofhoxton.com. Open Monday – Saturday, 4pm – 10pm (now until 31 March 2016).
Best for spiked hot chocolate: The Cabin Bar on the roof at Selfridges
The autumnal woodland that’s sprouted on Selfridge’s rooftop, courtesy of Des McDonald, is a great way to spend crisp, cold evenings snuggled up among blankets, furs and cushions in one of The Cabin Bar’s alpine-decorated outdoor lodges. Try an unusual gin, vermouth and truffle oil mix with a Truffle Martini, or spiced rum, pumpkin syrup and Benedictine with lime and soda with a Spicy Cane cocktail. Satisfy your sweet tooth with popular ‘choctails’ – a selection of hot chocolates spiked with spice and liqueurs, including gingerbread liqueur and rum, banana liqueur and rum, and Crème de Chataigne (chestnut cream) with white chocolate liqueur. Classic mulled wine, craft beers and ales from Camden Town Brewery and an extensive wine list also feature.
A selection of small plates to go with your drinks includes baked Cornish Brie with truffle honey, Dorset crab rarebit or juniper gin-cured salmon with pickled cucumber. If you want something a bit more substantial, hop across to the adjoining Forest on the Roof restaurant for a hot pot.
Selfridges rooftop, 400 Oxford Street, London, W1A 1AB; forest-restaurant.co.uk . Open Monday – Tuesday 11am – 9pm, Wednesday – Saturday 11am – 11pm, Sunday 12pm – 6pm (now until 30 April 2016).
Best for ski holiday glamour: The Winter Terrace at The Goring
The pop-up St Mortiz Ski Bar at The Goring hotel (made famous as the hotel in which Kate spent her last night as a Middleton) is a tribute to the Goring family’s skiing holidays in the glitzy Swiss resort – winter-jumper clad waiters bring your drinks to candlelit tables while you wrap up in cashmere throws and look out through antique skis onto The Goring’s private garden.
Festive cocktail recipes borrowed from Badrutt’s Palace in St Moritz include gluhwein, white peach Bellini with Ayala Champagne, and warming San Moritzino with vodka, Cointreau, almond syrup and freshly squeezed lemon juice. The Goring’s Michelin-starred chef, Shay Cooper, has created a selection of canapés including mini tartiflette, rostis and a mustard macaroon with Emmental cheese and cured ham. Top up these complimentary snacks with triple-cooked chips and crisp cauliflower with curry mayonnaise. A twinkling Christmas tree adds to the festive twist, while Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra purr from the gramophone, ensuring old-school glamour.
The Goring, Beeston Place, London, SW1W 0JW; thegoring.com. Open daily, 6pm – 9pm (now until end February 2016)
Best for gin lovers: Winter Botanical Garden at Mr Fogg’s Residence
Out of the back of Mr Fogg’s secret living room (actually a cocktail bar) in Mayfair, a winter botanical garden has been created with evergreens, mistletoe, holly and pines. Decorated with baubles and homemade decorations to evoke a Victorian yuletide, it’s just the place to enjoy the bar’s latest partnership with Hendrick’s rose petal and cucumber-infused gin. Try it in a Merry Meltdown, alongside Santa Teresa Orange liqueur, Strega liqueur and double cream, or in a gin and crème de menthe verde-spiked hot chocolate, with Mozart Dark Chocolate liqueur. Pour hot cocktails from teapot sharers – Mr Fogg’s Ice Breaker mixes Hendrick’s gin with sake, St. Germain elderflower liqueur and apple cider -or take the tea party theme one step further with Gindeavors for the Winter Weather – Hendrick’s gin infused with English breakfast tea, homemade spice syrup, Birottet Bergamotte, fortified wine, apple juice, honey red dates and tea marmalade.
Mr Fogg’s Residence, 15 Bruton Lane, London, W1J 6JD; mr-foggs.com. Open Monday – Wednesday 5pm – 1am, Thursday 4pm – 1am, Friday 4pm – 2am, Saturday 6pm – 2am, Sunday 5pm – 12am (now until 30 March 2016).
Best for drinks with a view: The Tree House at Skylounge
The DoubleTree Hilton’s Skylounge in Tower Hill has opened its own enchanted woodland amongst the rooftops of the City. Cocktails here are spiced up with Chairman’s Reserve St Lucian rum – try it mixed with spiced, hot apple cider in Hot & Cold Spiced Toddy (topped with indulgent whipped cream), with homemade plum puree and plum bitters in a new twist on the Old Fashioned, or in a light Treehouse Punch, the rum blended with fresh thyme tea, lemon juice and Rekorderlig apple cider. Family-owned Lanson Champagne gives a sparkling festive theme to the menu, while hungry visitors can pick from treetop burger squares, truffle mac ‘n’ cheese and spicy chicken nuggets with Bourbon dip.
Skylounge, DoubleTree Hilton, 7 Pepys St, London, EC3N 4AF; doubletree3.hilton.com. Open Wednesday to Saturday, 5pm until late (now until end February 2016)
Can’t get enough of these winter pop-ups? Well, although we only promised five, here’s an extra one to put on your must-visit list this winter (we’re nice like that!). Technically more food than drink-focused, Little Feast Winter, at Shepherd’s Bush Yard, has gone all Scandi this season, with fir trees carted all the way from Norway and live music at weekends for that authentic winter wonderland feel.
Six wooden huts will be selling the event’s trademark street eats – slow-roast Vietnamese pork from Sticky Beaks, paleo dishes from Feed Me Primal, waffles from Butter & Scotch and wood-fired pizzas from Tomattos – with a deli shed adding in breads, meats, fish and cheeses to go at weekends. A Cabin Bar, inspired by a Norwegian-style fishing cabin, will be serving up mulled ciders, wine, cocktails and craft beers. And, from 23 November, a giant advent calendar will be peeled open to unlock daily food and drink offers.
Little Feast Winter, Shepherds Bush Yard, Goldhawk Road, London, W12 8HA; wefeast.co.uk. Open Wednesday – Friday 6-11 pm, Saturday 12-11pm and Sunday 12-8pm (now until 23 December).
Written by Alex Crossley
First published November 2015