London food trends

Your Ultimate London Christmas Drinking Guide

Epicure Digital Marketing's Favourite Yuletide Drinking Spots

Any pub can heat some wine and put up a bit of tinsel, but transforming your gin joint into a winter wonderland or coming up with fresh, festive takes on a cocktail? That takes real skill. This week we have rounded up the most creative Christmas offerings from some of London’s best bars and cosiest pubs for the ultimate Yuletide drinking experience.

If you are on the search for some Christmas magic with your eggnog, you will be spoilt for choice this year. Bars across the city have been taking festive decorating to a new, immersive level, becoming ideal examples of what we covered in our last blog. It was hard to choose but we have managed to narrow it down to our top three.

1)      Scottish Winter Terrace at the Rib Room

This Knightsbridge restaurant has transformed its terrace bar into a Caledonian haven, complete with a forest of pine branches, tartan blankets and (what else) whisky flights curated by William Grant & Son. There will be live music on Fridays and Saturdays, Scottish-inspired bar snacks, and Christmassy whiskey cocktails such as the delightful Cinnamon Sour (12-year Glenfiddich, sloe gin, pomegranate liqueur, sage syrup, Angostura bitters). Open until January 25th, you be hard-pressed to find a better place to sing Auld Lang Syne to welcome in the New Year.

Scotch Whisky

2)      Hot Gin Terrace, Rosewood London

Holborn Hotel Rosewood London have paired up with Sipsmith gin this winter in a celebration of the beverage which has been warming Londoners for centuries. Inspired by the frost fairs of the 1700s, when the frozen Thames would become a winter playground – Rosewood have launched a menu of historical hot toddies. Including the delectable Hot Winter Julep (with peppermint tea and crème de cacao) and the Hot Mulled Sloe (sloe gin and warm apple juice) this is the perfect way to celebrate Christmas like a true Londoner.

3)      Cortina d’Ampezzo Winter Terrace, Sartoria

From London to the Italian Alps, this Savile Row favourite has created a festive experience inspired by Italy’s favourite ski resort in the Dolomites. Pairing up with Campari (who else), Sartoria’s Libare bar is offering a number of festive twists on Italian classics, including a range of seasonal Negronis.

Campari

Christmas Pubs

But a truly British Christmas would not be complete without a trip to a cosy pub and London is chock-full of them. For the ultimate festive experience, opt for one with an open fire and homey seating – need a little help knowing where to start? Give one of these a try.

1)      The Antelope – Tooting

A local favourite, The Antelope may attract a younger crowd, but it still has some of that old London feel. Featuring wood panelling, stained glass windows, mismatched comfy chairs and the requisite fireplace, this is the perfect pub in which to while away a wintery afternoon.

2)      The George Inn – London Bridge

This historic venue is the only pub to be owned by the National Trust. London’s oldest surviving coach house, it is tucked down an alley way by London Bridge, but is beautifully signposted with its name arching over the alley’s entrance in gold. This 17th-century watering hole still has its original beams and gallery and is worth a visit in its own right – after all, it is basically a historical location!

Can't beat a mulled cider... 

3)      Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese – Fleet Street

Another one of London’s historical pubs, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is also one of its oldest, dating back to the 16th century. A favourite with the likes of Dickens, Tennyson and Conan Doyle, it too boasts an open fire and is deceptively large.

And – just in case you are still thirsty – there’s more! We have barely mentioned mulled wine or hot chocolate, without which no Christmas is completely, so here is a final quick guide of where to head for the very best examples of each.

Mulled wine and Cider

Bavarian Brewhouse

  • Opt for proper German Glühwein or winter apple Schnapps, served by a ‘Santa Fräulein’…

Santa Baby!

  • With singalong Christmas songs and a 1950s American living room setting, you can get both red AND white mulled wine at this pop-up!

Southbank Christmas market

  • London’s answer to the Weinachtsmarkt, do your Christmas shopping and your Christmas drinking at the same time on London’s lovely South bank.
Mulled Wine

Christmas cocktails

Spaniards Inn – Festive Bliss

  • Chambord, spice syrup and Prosecco

The Lodge, Clapham – King’s Tipple

  • Hot apple juice, King’s Ginger Liqueur, dark rum and fresh mint

Dalloway Terrace – Bourbon Brittle

  • Old Spot-infused Makers Mark, praline vodka, and hot chocolate

 

Hot chocolate

Fortnum and Mason - Chocolossus

  • Go for dark or milk chocolate and add giant raspberry, vanilla, or salted caramel marshmallows
Hot Chocolate

Veneta

  • Head to St. James’s Market and ask for a shot of orange and grappa syrup in your Venezuelan bitter hot chocolate with cinnamon-infused milk

Rabot 1745

  • Borough Market’s “cacao-concept-restaurant” does hot chocolate to die for. Get yours infused with nutmeg, gingerbread, or even a shot of rum!

Cheers to Christmas drinking! Get in touch over Facebook or Twitter and let us know where and what you will be sipping this Yuletide, or tag us in your Christmas drinking pictures on Instagram @epicuredigitalmarketing. 

Anyone for Tea? A Stroke of British Marketing Genius.

Invigorate Your Restaurant's Marketing with Tea

It is pre-Christmas season and post-Summer – the time when marketing inspiration could grind to a halt. Are you feeling stuck? Looking for fun new ideas to reinvigorate your restaurant and give your marketing some fuel? Then we think it might be time for tea.

Afternoon Tea with Epicure Digital Marketing

These days you see Afternoon Tea everywhere - from cute cafés to the world’s finest hotels. Thanks to the global popularity of the Great British Bake Off, cake, tea, and all things British have never been more in vogue – except perhaps at Afternoon Tea’s inception in the 1840s. Legend has it that Anna Maria, 7th Duchess of Bedford, would get peckish in the late afternoon (she called it “that sinking feeling”) and call for tea and a snack to enjoy in her bedroom. She began inviting friends, high society got wind of it and voilà! A British tradition was born. 

Afternoon Tea with Epicure Digital Marketing
Afternoon Tea with Epicure Digital Marketing

Over the years it has been somewhat democratised, but Afternoon Tea has still retained that air of luxury – it is an indulgence, a treat, and herein lies some of its power. Who does not enjoy the opportunity to eat and drink well (and often fairly inexpensively) while feeling just a little fancy?

Afternoon Tea with Epicure Digital Marketing

The formula for afternoon tea is simple: finger sandwiches, scones, pastries, and a pot of tea (it must be a pot). This is where the genius comes in – working within such limiting parameters can push your culinary creativity to its limits. Over the last year, I have enjoyed a delectable, magic-forest-inspired tea at The Glade at sketch, a Jungle Book-themed tea at Taj 51 and a tea-based cocktail, bunny-eared tea at the Playboy Club in Mayfair. Each featured the core components of Afternoon Tea, and each took the strict framework of pastries and finger sandwiches and played with it to astounding success.

Afternoon Tea with Epicure Digital Marketing
Afternoon Tea with Epicure Digital Marketing

So, why bother with Afternoon Tea at your restaurant? Well it is relatively cheap to produce, it is hugely popular with guests, and it is a breeding ground for creativity and quirkiness. Got an Italian restaurant? Replace the finger sandwiches with pizzette and bruschetta, feature some regional Italian pastries, perhaps a mini Tiramisu, add a glass of Prosecco and there you go! A quirky, delicious, Italian Afternoon Tea. Run a Japanese restaurant in the UK? The Japanese already have a tea-based culture so let those cultures mingle – where High Tea meets Tea Ceremony, great things will happen.

Afternoon Tea with Epicure Digital Marketing

Want to do a little research? Here are our top Afternoon Teas to Try.

Claridge’s

The ultimate, traditional Afternoon Tea. This classic offering even won “Best Traditional Afternoon Tea” at this year’s Afternoon Tea Awards.

Momo

An Afternoon Tea – with a Moroccan Twist! Featuring the intriguing Zaalouk & Mechouia on toast, pistachio macarons and served with traditional mint tea.

One Aldwych

One that the kids will love as much as the adults, this Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tea includes decadent golden eggs, blueberry brioche and playful flavoured candy floss!

Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

Based in The Halkin hotel, this Michelin-starred restaurant is offering a Basque-inspired Afternoon Tea for something truly unusual.

Afternoon Tea with Epicure Digital Marketing

Are you an Afternoon Tea fan? Get in touch on Facebook or Twitter to let us know your thoughts – what kind of Afternoon Tea would you like to see? Also, tag us in your Afternoon Tea Instagram pictures @epicuredigitalmarketing and we will share them!

Gimmick or Genius? The Rise of the Food Fad

Epicures Liv and Francesca Explore London's Food Trends

With the advent of social media platforms like Instagram, food has been given a whole new lease of life. Food bloggers have become prolific and thousands of people are 'gramming their meals every day. Because this platform is essentially entirely visual, food photos are edited and staged to within an inch of their lives in order to make them as aesthetically-pleasing as possible. This preoccupation with pretty edibles has given rise to a multitude of “food fads”. Enter visual delights like galaxy donuts, cronuts, and - possibly most exciting - the freakshake. But are these fads mere gimmicks or is there something more to them? This weekend, Client Manager Fran and I took to the streets of London to find out.

London Food Trends

Heading to Brick Lane, we began the day with a breakfast of rainbow bagels. Originally the brainchild of New Yorker Scot Rossillo, this fad takes bread to a whole new colourful level. A normal bagel in flavour and texture, the only real difference is its vibrant rainbow nature. A cheap novelty? We didn't think so - in fact, although the taste remained the same, the sheer child-like joy of eating something so colourful made the whole experience wonderful.

Rainbow Bagel

Rainbow Bagels

Due to the massive popularity of the original, the rainbow bagel has made its way across the pond to Brick Lane's Beigel shop, where you can buy one for a mere 50p. This multi-coloured gimmick has spread over to several other, otherwise-normal food areas, from fairy bread to rainbow coffee. Photos of kaleidoscopic grilled cheeses are currently running amok across Instagram, as people attempt to make their everyday meals more visually stimulating.

Rainbow Bagel

Matcha

The next stop on our foodie adventure was Soft Serve Society to jump on the matcha train - another food-stuff that has taken the internet by storm. Matcha is a Chinese green tea powder, traditionally used in Chinese and Japanese tea ceremonies. These days it is also used for dyeing and flavouring foods. Given the plentiful health benefits of matcha- such as being high in antioxidants and helping to burn calories- many health enthusiasts have appropriated it for healthy treat foods.

Admittedly, we may not have had it in its most wholesome form... as an ice cream swirled together with vanilla, covered in strawberry crunch, and topped with the world's largest marshmallow, but it did give us a chance to see what the hype was about. It was certainly very visually impressive, with a cloud of mallow perched atop a beautifully-swirled green and white ice cream, but I must say we were somewhat underwhelmed with the taste of it. Perhaps matcha is the new marmite.

Matcha

Freakshakes

Two stops into our day of gluttony we thought it best to walk to our next, and undoubtedly most ambitious, stop. Cue Maxwell's Bar and Grill in Covent Garden for the aforementioned freakshake. This food marvel was originally a product of Australians Anna and Gina Petridis and has been rapidly spreading across the continent - and now to several areas of Britain - with Maxwell's being the first to jump on the bandwagon. Described by many as “Instagram-worthy”, the pair wanted to create a dessert that customers felt they just had to take a photo of before eating it. Mission accomplished. The one we had was salted caramel and was essentially a mountain of cream, caramel, and sugar, topped with a doughnut and yet more marshmallows - an apparent theme of the day.

Freakshake at Maxwell's Bar and Grill

The day finished with the onset of food comas, and a growing understanding of the appeal of food fads. The transmission, and thus popularity, of these fantastic culinary spectacles has been made possible by the rise of media platforms such as Instagram. Through it people can create identities for themselves and even, in the case of food bloggers and “’grammers”, forge a career. However, as these become more popular professions it is no longer enough to create really good-tasting, well-balanced dishes. People need to come up with ways to beat the crowds and catch the attention of their target audience. Thus flavour appears to be giving way to aesthetic as the most important factor when it comes to food marketing.

Softserve Society

Instagramable?

Does this then mean that there is no longer a need to focus on the taste of a dish? Is it such that, as long as it is striking to look at, all other elements of the experience are irrelevant? Well, no. For those who truly love food it is unlikely that they'll be fooled into liking something merely because it's pretty. Nonetheless there is evidence that our enjoyment of food is influenced by more than just taste. A multitude of studies have been carried out over the years, proving that altering the appearance of foods can completely change how people experience the flavour of them.

One such test was performed by taking white wine and adding a flavourless red food colouring to it. Subjects reported experiencing flavours associated with red wines, such as merlots and cabernets, despite the fact that the flavour of the original wine had been left unaltered. Eating is a whole body experience, combining all the senses, and so, while these aforementioned food fads are designed primarily to be visual spectacles this does not mean that taste has to go completely out of the window. 

Epicure Loves White and Red Wine

Food fads are, at the most basic level, a tool for driving popularity, in the form of gaining Instagram traffic. The more visually-striking a foodstuff is, the more likes and follows one can get. Through recreating, or even starting, these popular fads, restaurants can appeal to, and market themselves to, a wider demographic. However, on a subtler level, the extremity of the visual can enhance the whole eating experience, making foods not only look, but also taste, more new and exciting.