‘A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are
slightly cracked,’ observed the much-loved, late American broadcaster, Bernard Meltzer. In
times of oddness, more than ever, people crave the shared experience of savouring beautifully
made drinks in a reassuringly comfy milieu. And being looked after on a heated terrace with a
good view of the golden leaves of autumn in cascade makes the effort of going out to meet loved
ones amidst a flustering global pandemic worth the professed risk. Some operators such as the
Dalloway Terrace at the Bloomsbury Hotel are inviting guests to BYOB (Bring Your Own
Blanket) which offers, in a commercial setting, a sense of the haven of home.
During the lockdown, Meda’s own nutrient enriched NO-LO mixology hampers proved very
successful, allowing imbibers to shape their own drinks and pay closer attention to their palates.
Furnished with a new or revived understanding of mixology, the home drinker is both inspired
and better placed to enjoy the suggestions of, and even challenge, expert bartenders when
taking the step to go out.
To take advantage of the rule of six, which allows multiple households to meet in the Capital
when outdoors, here are four venues offering, respectively, large gardens, handsome
courtyards, commanding terraces and hidden gardens. As the weather cools, keep an eye out for
the excitement around emerging warm cocktail serves, especially when made with the premium
CBD enriched Espresso Medatini, which benefits from bearing at least half the sugar and
calories of the conventional espresso martini…
Chelsea (SE1): The Ivy Chelsea Garden (theivychelseagarden.com)
Formerly the large, louche drinking den that was Henry J. Beans and now handsomely
reimagined, The Ivy on the Kings Road near Chelsea Old Town Hall celebrates the horticultural,
especially during the famous Chelsea Flower Show. The best spots are the sumptuous
conservatory and heated pergolas looking onto a fountain. As well as Meda’s own, deeply
flavoured Espresso Medatini, you can order the venue’s take on the Singapore Sling – The Ivy
Sling – which stars Plymouth Gin at its heart, further adorned with Benedictine and bitters.
Marylebone (W1U): Chiltern Firehouse (chilternfirehouse.com)
André Balazs’ labyrththine hotel complete with ceilings of latticed reels of firehoses in the
restaurant salvaged from the site’s previous incarnation has a very cosy hideaway of a bar.
However, it is the courtyard at the entrance which affords the best view of the handsome
architecture of this perennial favourite of various celebrities. Come the autumn, the large
selection of cool rosé is replaced by the Medatini and spirits elevated by Meda mixers, as well as
more gutsy wines from the Alps.
Seven Dials (WC2H): Louie (louie-london.com)
Billed as a journey through Paris, New York and New Orleans, Louie, one of the most significant
openings of the year, occupies the Covent Garden townhouse which was previously home to
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. The much-brightened ground floor brasserie features voodoo
elements, a juke box and hand planished bar counter, although it is the top floor bar with huge
speakers, fireplace and wall-mounted trumpet-like ice buckets which offer the most surprise
when the doors are opened onto the leafy terrace with retractable glass roof. Aiming to play
with the lighter side of darker spirits, expect Black Magic cocktails such as the Crocopolitan,
featuring Bourbon, hibiscus, toasted almond and coconut, as well as a unique take on the
Mayfair (W1J 5AT) Annabel’s (annabels.co.uk)
If you are lucky enough to have a subscription to what is arguably the most famous members’
club in the world, you can take advantage of the large, glamorous, seasonally themed garden
and, for cigar lovers, rooftop veranda. The Espresso Medatini has long been served within this
fantastical setting which also takes the prize for having made London’s most complex of
fragrance hand sanitiser…
Consultant to MEDA, Douglas Blyde
Douglas Blyde is the drinks columnist for the London Evening Standard magazine and the
author of an annual restaurant guide, Wine List Confidential for Drinks Business.
Memorable experiences on his journey of tastes have included dining in, then ultimately
legitimately escaping from the albeit dry restaurant at high-security prison, HMP Highdown,
shooting, being blooded by, then eating grouse for lunch on the Glorious Twelfth of August in
the Highlands, malt in hand, as well as odysseys to meet producers in South Africa, Lebanon,
Thailand and China.
Douglas hosted the 50 Best Bars awards for William Reed and is a drinks consultant to both
aristocrats and business leaders.
He has been realised as a cocktail, the ‘Jekyll & Blyde’ which originated at Fortnum & Mason’s 45
Jermyn Street restaurant and is now served at Fortnum’s 101 in Hong Kong.