If you read this latest post, you’ll have read about why I haven’t been doing quite so much travelling lately. But a week or so ago, I went on a different type of journey. A journey back in time, at The Churchill Bar’s Vintage London Winter Terrace.
The Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill Hotel has made a frequent appearance on this blog. I’ve had brunch here, stayed in their newly refurbished Regency Executive Suite and visited The Terrace at The Churchill Bar many times to enjoy some of London’s best expertly crafted cocktails.
And it’s one of the most beautiful hotels to visit in London at Christmas.
I was travelling in Africa over winter last year and missed many of the festivities in London. So I was very happy to be able to squeeze in a visit to the Winter Terrace in February, just before it shed its sparkly ski chalet setting in time for Spring.
The Vintage London Winter Terrace
For the 2017/18 season – as you can tell by its new name – The Vintage London Winter Terrace takes inspiration from years gone by. And when I visited this month with my friend Susannah, we stepped into a haven of classic British posters, faux bare brick walls and collections of London memorabilia…
…with vintage umbrellas and an old railway station clock hanging overhead.
I’ve mentioned on here before that one of the things The Terrace is known for its exclusive collection of cigars. I am definitely not a cigar fan so we asked to move away from the table we were initially seated at, where two chaps were enjoying a smoke. But if you happen to be a cigar connoisseur, you’ll be in your element, with their menu of cigars, whisky and cognac pairings.
Cocktails at The Vintage London Winter Terrace
The Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill Hotel is of course, named after the British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill. And for the 2017/18 season, The Churchill Bar mixology team have created nine new winter cocktails in his honour.
Each cocktail aims to take you ‘on a journey’ of Churchill’s life, touching on his iconic moments in history. The ingredients are inspired by some of his favourite places, including Cuba, Morocco and New York.
We didn’t actually order any of the new winter cocktails but here are a few examples to give you an idea of what you can order:
Time Out: Inspired by Morocco, Winston’s favourite winter holiday destination, the Time Out cocktail is made up of London NI Moroccan mint infused gin, with the sweet flavour of Italicus Rosolio, balanced with the bitter note of Luxardo Bianco. These ingredients are complemented with the bar’s homemade citrus cordial for an ‘exotic libation’.
The Journalist: A cocktail created in honour of Churchill’s wilderness years in the 20s and 30s when he continued to write books, articles and go on to win a Nobel Prize for his writing. The Journalist blends Clooney’s Casamigos Tequila with Roots Mastiha Liquor and lemon juice and a playful candyfloss garnish to represent ‘the respite writing gave him from the troubles of politics’.
The Charleston Punch: A cocktail inspired by one of Churchill’s favourite destinations, San Franciso, where the Pisco Punch was born. The Charleston Punch is a ‘Churchill twist’ on this iconic drink.
So, what did we order?
Well, I twisted my friend Susannah’s arm into acting as my official cocktail taster for the evening (it took some persuading). So she went for the Orchard Crusta (pictured above) from The Churchill’s sparkling cocktail range. A twist on the classic Bellini, it combines Granny Smith Apple and sweet Luxardo Maraschino with lychee and Prosecco. It’s citrusy, light but not too tarte.
Me, jealous? Maybe a little….
Later on in the evening, she then plumped for the Jock’s Martini, a pretty pink concoction of Grey Goose vodka infused with orange and grapefruit peel, Campari, and orange marmalade. But why the name Jock? It was Churchill’s dying request apparently, that there should always be a marmalade cat called Jock, living in his former home.
And while I would never usually get excited about non-alcoholic cocktails, I have to say, I was really impressed with the non-alcoholic beverages here at The Terrace. There are all sorts of delightful specialty teas on the menu here. But you’ll also find four alcohol-free cocktails, which are perfect if you aren’t drinking but want to feel like you’re enjoying a festive tipple too.
The Blueberry and Rosehip Sling was an explosion of fruity flavours – almost like a liquid form of one of those Refresher bars you’d eat as a kid. It blends blueberries, rosehip cordial and fresh passion fruit (my fave) with lemon and apple juice, served in a tall glass. Delicious.
My next alcohol-free choice was the Ginger Lemonade, which has the amazing fiery kick I love from a Mule cocktail, sans booze. I could have done with this gingery cordial in my early months of pregnancy to tackle the morning sickness. Again, it was excellent and I’d highly recommend it.
Food at The Winter Terrace
Now, onto the food.
The food menu at The Winter Terrace is divided into the all-day menu and the light bites menu which we ordered from – essentially, smaller dishes which are made for sharing.
In hindsight, I slightly regretted ordering the fried white bait with herb mayo. They serve you quite a hefty bowl of them here, which make for a tasty snack if there’s a whole bunch of you. But I’d had enough of these little fishies after a handful!
The potato, cheese and braised lamb croquettes however, were a hit. Served with a spicy tomato relish, they’re particularly comforting and warming on a chilly winter’s night.
Susannah is vegetarian, so she went for the artichoke, pine nut and feta cheese croquettes with rocket pesto which she really enjoyed. I always enjoy the juicy green olives and fantastic cheesy biscuits they serve with your drinks here (honestly, they’re addictive)
As The Winter Terrace began to quieten down before the evening crowd trickled in, we couldn’t leave without trying one more thing.
The cheese fondue here is infused with bacon, so we went for the vegetarian-friendly chocolate fondue. Here, it’s made from Green & Black’s Milk Chocolate & Praline and you get squidgy marshmallows, fresh strawberries, juicy pineapple (delicious) and rolled wafers for dipping into it.
It was indulgent, gooey and just what the doctor ordered to warm our toes.
At the end of our evening, we were pretty chilly (wear lots of layers) so we retreated into the gorgeous bar area which was as buzzy and stylish as always.
I enjoyed the retro-style winter terrace this year. I didn’t think it was quite as magical as the twinkly ski chalet. And I have to admit, the service wasn’t quite as slick as I’d experienced here before.
However, the winter terrace makes for a lovely Christmas night out with friends, promising excellent drinks, a relaxed ambience and a lovely nostalgic feel.
Let me know if you ever get to visit!