Showing posts with label London. Show all posts
Showing posts with label London. Show all posts

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Best Bars & Lounges at Heathrow Airport

Passing through an airport can be an extremely stressful part of traveling, an issue that a myriad of airline and airport operators attempt to counteract with sleeping capsules, yoga lounges, and kid-free zones. San Jose International, LAX and Miami Airport even have therapy dogs to de-stress passengers, but sometimes all you airport that supplies a wide variety of bars is London Heathrow.

The UK’s busiest airport continues to impress in all areas, from the delectable options for food and beverages to the convenient and ever expanding parking services that Parking4Less offers visitors -- long and short stay parking at all 5 terminals, all of which ensure a relaxing and hassle-free journey. If you’re traveling through Heathrow any time soon and in need of time to unwind during your time in the airport, here is a list of recommended pubs and lounges.

London’s Pride by Fuller’s, Terminal 2
Just last year, the centuries-old brewer opened a gastropub in Heathrow to offer passengers premium ciders as well as local provenance food to supply them with something slightly different from the typical airport restaurant experience. They even have a Terminal 2 lager called Wingman.

The Flying Chariot (Wetherspoon), Terminal 3
The Flying Chariot celebrates all things Heathrow with designs inspired by the airport’s rich history, boasting its own ‘control tower’ observation deck that overlooks the runway. In addition to the Windsor & Eton Brewery craft beers, the pub also serves organic ciders, artisan gins, and an extensive selection of exquisite dishes.

Fortnum & Mason Champagne Bar, Terminal 5
Open from 5:30 am until the last departing flight, Fortnum & Mason Champagne Bar is a classy establishment with a beautiful island bar serving a diverse range of bubbly, along with cocktails, spirits and non-alcoholic beverages. Travelers may wish to pair their drinks with crumpets, caviar or other snacks from the menu.

This is a contributed article. This may contain affiliate links.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

From Plymouth to London for a Final Day

When it comes to making the most of the last day of a trip, I’ve never had such a nice balance as the Pernod Ricard team (and Meghan Kelleher from Access PR) put into our “Tale of Two Cities” itinerary. They gave us the best of two worlds – and the best of English gin.

It was nice to be able to sleep in a bit until 8:00, but it was then time to rise for a light breakfast at St. Elizabeth's House and our last tour of Plymouth. We went to Burrator Reservoir, a beautiful location with waterfalls over the dam. We then traveled down to the river, where the Plymouth Gin team had some surprises for us.

We first sampled Classic Pink Gin, which is a combination of Angostino bitters, Plymouth Gin and water. It was very good, though I’m not sure I’d make it my standard morning drink. We did have food, though, to share it with – deliciously fresh English scones with cream and black current jam.

we finished eating we had duck races in the river. I’m proud to say my purple duck came in second and earned me a bottle of Sloe Gin. We were also all given a copy of the Savoy Cocktail Book and said our goodbyes to Plymouth Master Distiller Sean Harrison before heading to the train station.

The trip back to London on the train was a long one, but I did get a bit of work (and sleep) in. When we arrived in the city we were taken to the Zetter Hotel.  This place was the total opposite of The Dukes, which had been small, yet regal. The Zetter was modern with a contemporary décor. I was especially impressed with the vending machines that dispensed cocktails in the form of small bottles of spirits and their coordinated mixers!

After settling in for a bit, we met for drinks at the bar. I stuck with the Beefeater Gin and tonic, before switching to wine with dinner, just upstairs in the hotel’s Bistrot Bruno Loubet.

I started with Beetroot ravioli with a rocket salad, fried breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. It was quite good and I liked the originality. The same could be said of my Provencale Petite Farcis in a tomato and chickpea sauce. I really enjoyed that and was glad to have a break from the week’s meat.

Dessert was a tough choice as everything on the menu sounded incredible. I ended up ordering the Apple Tart with Crème Fraiche and cinnamon ice cream, but sampled some of the Chocolate Delice with Pistachio Crumble and Olive Oil and Star Anis Pannacotta. Everything was as good as it sounded.

After dinner we went down the block to Zth bar, which showcases the mixology genius of Tony Conigliaro. The décor was as eclectic as the drinks and I think between us we pretty much sampled them all. Some of the standouts were: The Master At Arms with Myers Rum, a port evaporation and homemade grenadine; The Flintlock, Beefeater 24 Gin, gunpowder tea tincture, sugar, Fernet Branca, dandelion and burduck bitters; and my choice, Twinkle, with Wyborowa, elderflower cordial and Perrier Jouët Champagne.

I was the first to leave for the night as I had an early morning flight back home. I said goodbye to my new friends and walked back to the Zeter.

I left the hotel before dawn and flew back business class on American Airlines, so I had eight hours to decompress, catch up on some movies and get ready for the work week at home. It had been quite a trip to England and I was happy to learn so much about the country, Beefeater and Plymouth on this trip.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Exploring London with Beefeater

One of the things I was really looking forward to on this trip was getting a view of Olympic Stadium in London. Unfortunately, I was having sinus problems and the weather (for a boat ride) was not cooperating. I instead spent the morning resting up at the Duke’s Hotel, which left me with more energy for a full afternoon and evening.

When I finally left the hotel, I walked down to St. James park and then on to Buckingham Palace. My last two trips to London had been filled with no time for sightseeing so I hadn’t seen the palace since I was a teenager. It is more regal than I remembered, and the gardens (displaying tulips when I was there) were immaculate. I walked around the grounds so I could see it all from all angles.

As I started walking away through St. James Park’s Birdcage Walk, I noticed that there was a clearing an area of the road. I saw the guards at attention in front of a crowd at St. James Palace just before a car with Prince Charles’ wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, came out. The brief glimpse at the Duchess of Cornwall was probably the closest I will get to royalty!

I went back to the hotel in time to dress for an evening filled with activities. Our first stop was at the infamous and elegant American Bar at the Savoy Hotel.  It was quite an experience as we split up into the small tables and I enjoyed The Royal Tribute (Beefeater gin, champagne, cherries and Chartreuse) with Beefeater Master Distiller Desmond Payne and Guilt Taste Editor Jennifer Pelka.

After drinking cocktails we went on to making them at HIX Restaurant, where we met with infamous London mixologist Nick Strangeway. He led us through punch making, specifically the making of the Diamond Jubilee Punch for Queen Elizabeth II. The punch contained Beefeater gin, cassis, raspberry liqueur, cherry brandy, bitters, Twining’s Earl Grey Tea, lemon juice, sparkling wine and a black currant garnish. I also got to make another Strangeway created punch with British cassis, rhubarb, champagne and Compari. Both were delicious.

We stayed at HIX for a dinner in our own private room. During the meal I talked a bit with Beefeater Ambassador Seb Hamilton-Mudge about surfing and the many areas of England I had yet to explore.

Dinner started with a plate of Senorio Iberico Bellota Ham with grilled Catalan tomato bread, which was sweet and tasty. We then had a filet of Hereford beef on the bone (which I topped with a terrific Béarnaise sauce) accompanied by incredible Jersey Royal potatoes. Dessert was a chocolate mousse made to perfection, deep in cocoa flavor, but not too sweet. We were also given some decadent Julian Temperley chocolate truffles.

For after dinner drinks we headed to Novikovs, a very popular London club. It was noisy and crowded and we were all very happy to see we had a large table reserved. The staff brought out martinis (Beefeater, of course) in an absinthe-like pitcher, as well as bottles of the gin and an assortment of mixers. I played it safe with my usual gin and tonic, but there were some passing shots of Avion Tequila before we left at 1:00 am to go back to Duke's Hotel.

We had a very busy next day ahead of us as we were leaving early in the morning and heading to Plymouth. There we would see the spot the Mayflower left from on its journey to the United States, and learn more about the gin that bears the city’s name.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Super Tasting Day of Beefeater Gin in London

My first full day in London was a gin lover’s dream, as I tasted my way around the world of Beefeater, as only a “super taster” should.

I was up early and greeted the day with some yoga and my typical European breakfast – pan au chocolate, fruit, yogurt, and English Breakfast tea. I needed to make sure I was ready for a day filled with everything Beefeater.

We were picked up in the official Beefeater cars and took a short drive to the distillery. We were greeted by Master Distiller Desmond Payne, as well as Beefeater Ambassadors – mixologists extraordinaire – Sebastian (Seb) Hamilton-Mudge and Tim Jones. The latter two had “snappers” waiting for us,  a red that was basically a bloody Mary with gin (using sundried tomato paste for a very fresh flavor); green, with pineapple juice, coriander, mint, green tabasco sauce and lime juice; and purple, with beet, orange, carrot and lemon juice. They were all good, with a slight favor for me to the green.

Desmond took us on a tour of the distillery, explaining the history of both this company and gin itself. He also explained that gin is defined as a spirit that has juniper in it. He also declared that “today is the next cocktail era. People are coming back to gin.”

We talked about the different gins that Desmond had worked on for Beefeater: 24, full of citrus; Summer, with hibiscus and black currant for a floral flavor; Winter, spicy with cinnamon and nutmeg; and London Market, blended with pomegranate and cardamom. The point was well taken that you can use just about anything in gin, as long as there is also juniper.

Before having more Beefeater Gin cocktails, we tasted some other gin brands (like Hendricks, which adds cucumber and rose petal) to see just how different gins can be. Then we walked into the warehouse where the smell of juniper permeated the air. There are also other ingredients here, and they make sure they get the finest of everything: juniper comes from Italy; the angelica root and seed from Belgium; the coriander is from Bulgaria; the liquorice is Chinese; almonds are imported from Spain, as are the lemon and orange peels.

We were soon back at the bar tasting a selection of Beefeater cocktails with everything from green tea to Lillet Blanc. It was fun watching (and sampling) the creativity of Seb and Tim before it was time to head out and take a short break prior to our next outing.

There were so many interesting aspects of the Drink Factory, where Tony Conigliaro creates some of the magic that has earned his reputation as one of the greatest mixers in London. The space also happens to be located in a building that (is owned by and) houses a Pink Floyd recording studio, where the infamous The Wall album was produced so that added some nostalgia.

Tony C. led us through a molecular cocktail class in his laboratory filled with herbs and spirits (he also makes perfumes here). It reminded me a lot of my father’s laboratory, which I used to visit when I was a child. He made us a delicious Walnut Martini with woodland bitters, Beefeater 24 and pua tea. We also got a preview into the Fig Leaf Collins and Truffle Martinis he was working on.

Before leaving the Drink Factory, we had a little fun when someone in the group asked Tony C. about being a “super taster.” It seems there is a piece of chemically treated paper that only “super tasters” can truly taste. I wasn’t quite sure if I believed it, but when I could barely keep it in my mouth from the bitterness while a few said they tasted nothing, I became more of a believer and acknowledged that I am, indeed, a “super taster.”

Dinner was at Pinchito Tapas, an East London hotspot where we enjoyed a selection of tapas. While a lot of the offerings were fish, owner Tobias did make me some vegetable and meat dishes to enjoy with my Beefeater and tonic.

I hadn't been to the Tower of London since I was a kid, and never at night, so it was a unique experience to be there for the Ceremony of the Keys. We happened to be with a group of British dignitaries, so it was even more special.

We finished the evening with some nightcaps at Callooh Calley, a fun and unusual spot downtown, where the menus are made in old cassette tape holders. I had a Jasmine Fizz and settled back for a bit before returning with the group to the Dukes Hotel.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Heading to England with Beefeater and Plymouth

I have traveled to many places in the world checking out wine and spirits, but when the invitation to go to England with Beefeater and Plymouth came, I was more excited than you can imagine. Gin is my go to spirit and the thought of spending a week drinking it as part of the job was a good one.

I’ve worked with Pernod Ricard on a number of trips, including Jacob’s Creek in Australia and Perrier Jouët in Paris. They always do things top notch and this trip was no different. They sent a limo to take me to the airport for the short flight to Chicago, where I was flying British Airways. Since I had a business class ticket and had a few hours, I went straight to the BA lounge. I hadn’t had lunch so I was hoping to catch a snack. I found a lot more in a large buffet with many choices. I settled on a little spinach lasagna, which was excellent, and a small, fudgy brownie.

When it was time to board, I saw my first airplane “pod.” It was a bit odd at first and took a while for me to adjust, but once I figured it out I was very comfortable with a draw to keep things I was using close, a foot rest that moved and enough positions to go from sitting to lying flat to make anyone comfortable. I also had a privacy screen between myself and the seat next to me.

The service on British Airways was excellent. They took care of whatever I wanted. I started with a Kir Royale before dinner, where I enjoyed the peppers with crumbled gorgonzola, asparagus and truffled cream. The main course was a wonderful manicotti stuffed with roasted butternut squash in a lemongrass sauce, and I finished with an elderflower cheesecake on a graham cracker crust with fresh raspberries. The only problem was that was served with the salad instead of after the entrée, so it was a bit warm by the time I ate it. With my meal I had a glass of Sancerre 2010 Domaine Bardine from the Loire Valley. It was 100% sauvignon blanc and full of citrus, but a bit grassy like the fantastic New Zealand ones.

I watched a few movies before a fell asleep for a short while. It almost seemed as if the flight wasn’t long enough since I had just settled in for two hours. For breakfast, I passed on the warm bacon roll with ketchup and just had a yummy smoothie made from guanabana, raspberry, cantaloupe and wheat germ.

Our arrival at London’s Heathrow was in fact early, but it took a full hour to get through customs. My car from Beefeater was waiting and Meghan Kelleher (from Beefeater and Plymouth’s public relations agency, Access PR) met me in the lobby of the Dukes Hotel and encouraged me to rest up and order something from room service for breakfast.

I slept for a few hours, enjoyed a cheese omelet, and decided to take advantage of the hotel’s perfect location (between Buckingham Palace and Piccadilly Circus) to explore a bit. The streets were a bit crowded from a marathon and I couldn’t get near the palace so I headed in the other direction and walked up and down Piccadilly window shopping.

I was back at the room around 5:00 and dressed for dinner. I met the group downstairs at the Dukes bar and had my first Beefeater 24 gin and tonic in London. We had a lot of fun getting to know each other as we headed in vans to Ox Brasserie. The views from the restaurant were just incredible in this all glass venue on top of the tower. I had another g&t before the meal. During dinner we drank a very good Domaine Rougine Vin de Pays from Languedoc Roussillon (where I’m heading in November).

The meal was by far the best I’ve ever had in London: Grilled English Asparagus on dried cured ham with Ragstone cheese, vanilla oil, roasted hazelnut and toasted brioche (a great mix of different flavors); Jasper Roast Lamb with parsley fregola, feta, hazelnut yoghurt and honey lavosh (perfect with the yogurt); Roasted Pumpkin Parmesan Salad; and a Chocolate Trio of a bitter chocolate tart, milk chocolate honey nougatine parfait and buttered pears.

I finished off with some Jasmine tea before we left. My head hit the pillow and I was out by midnight, dreaming of the gin drinks I would have at the Beefeater distillery the next day.