Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Day-Twah Weekend


Resurget cineribus was the motto Detroit adopted in 1805, "It will rise from the ashes". It might be time to update that to "It will rise from the crumbles". The city had a population of 1,850,000 in 1950 and now sits at just 677,116 leaving many businesses and buildings deserted. In fact, there are over 70,000 abandoned homes and buildings.

Tidbits like that, and being named one of the most dangerous cities in American, are why I've been curious about Detroit for years. A true American tale; from rags to riches, rags again, future riches? It's hard to say what lies ahead but Detroit is one hell of an interesting place to visit.

My ever-traveling brother was also curious about The Motor City so earlier this summer we met there for a weekend to check it out. I booked a direct flight from Seattle on Alaska Air and was excited when I got a complimentary 1st class upgrade. My brother's flight landed a bit before mine, so he was conveniently waiting for me at the airport when I landed. We grabbed a cab and headed into the city.

I was using a gift certificate for the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel and Mark decided to stay there too. I was super happy with my complimentary upgraded room; a very large corner room on the 21st floor with views of the river and the city. The room was the size of a suite only without room dividers.

The Book Cadillac was left abandoned for 25 years before an architect firm bought it recently; the largest abandoned building in downtown. They refurbished it, restoring many of the original features, and in partnership with the Westin chain, turned it into a hotel with condo residences. It is absolutely beautiful but only the outside is still original. Historic Detroit has some fantastic photos and history on many of these buildings, this one has an incredible story which you can read about here. And just down the block sits the 36-story Book Tower, originally owned by the same brothers, it was abandoned in 2009, full history here.


Mark and I immediately set out to explore. We started by catching the People Mover (in Seattle we call this type of train the Monorail) which does a complete loop around town. We had signed up for a guided walking tour of the city the next day but thought we'd just get a little lay of the land. We rode the People Mover to Grand Circus Park and walked over to Comerica Park (the Tigers weren't playing in town that weekend sadly).

From here we chose to follow the elevated tracks around vs. riding it. We stopped to admire the beautiful facade of the Wurlitzer Building (abandoned but apparently sold and being renovated by a boutique hotel) and noticed the murals painted on many of the empty buildings, including one by Wyland which seemed very out of place!

The concierge at the hotel had told me to stop at Downtown Park which was hosting a summer "beach" complete with bar and live music. We were ready for a sit down after walking a couple of hours so headed to the "Tiki Bar" only to find it was serving canned beers and sugary vodka drinks. Wanting to give it some redemption we ordered rum neat, grabbed seats, and put our toes in the sand while enjoying the live reggae band. There were quite a few people at the park but as soon as we left we encountered almost silence in the streets.

From here we slipped into the over-the-top gorgeous 40-story brick Guardian Building; we were the only people in the lobby on Friday at about 4pm. The 1929 building has some impressive architectural notes, more here.  In 2003 the building was made open to the public, it had been only open to employees for over 25 years before that. Now the Bank of America branch inside it is truly the nicest bank branch you'll ever check out (see what I did there?).
We continued towards the waterfront where we could see traffic heading over the bridge to Canada, which confusingly is located south of Detroit. We walked past the Cobo Center with its banner thanking Mr. Hockey, Gordy Howe, who had just passed away the day before. This huge concrete mass is one of the ugliest sports centers I have seen and looks almost Soviet Block era-ish. Luckily for the Red Wing fans, a new arena is underway for Mike Ilitch's team (fun fact, Ilitch who owns Little Cesar's Pizza, also owns a huge chunk of Detroit. Dan Gilbert, of Quicken Loans, owns most of it though.)

We had walked about 8 miles so it was time to head back on the People Mover, take a lie down, and get cleaned up before heading to dinner. All afternoon, except for the people at the Downtown Park, we really hadn't seen many people in town. And there was little to no traffic, we had been jaywalking all over. It was quiet and odd, like being in an episode of The Walking Dead!

That night we had reservations at Roast which happened to be in our hotel. Owned by personality chef Michael Symon it gets quite a bit of press in a city with few serious dining options. We started with cocktails at the bar and could not pass up trying their fried baloney sandwich as a snack (ok, I couldn't pass it up). It's a thing, and it was good! Dinner was also delicious, the restaurant a modern steakhouse as the name implies. We were super happy with our roasted marrow bones and perfectly cooked steak. I'd heard they have amazing wings but we didn't see them on the menu that night.

We grabbed an Uber and headed into Cork Town for after dinner drinks. Cork Town isn't far, and I don't even think it is dangerous as its reputation once was, but the streets were just pitch black and seemingly deserted so a car seemed the better way to go.

Drinks at The Sugar House were great! The bar has a very good rum collection and multiple menus of original, classic, and tiki drinks. We sampled a few before heading back to the Westin.

The next morning we grabbed coffees to-go and walked to Eastern Market for the Saturday market. Along the way we stopped at The Belt, an ally/outdoor gallery of cool local art.

It was a long walk through flat, empty neighborhoods. It was a bit strange but it never seemed dangerous. We were actually just continually surprised by the lack of traffic and people. Once we got to the market area we found the Russell Street Deli I had heard about for breakfast, but decided that the line outside was entirely too long; here's where all the people were! Mark spotted a place called Farmers Restaurant that featured house-made corned beef. Sold! We were seated in the diner in a matter of minutes, had one of the friendliest waitresses ever (who was also over-the-top curious as to why we were in Detroit), and had fantastic corned beef and eggs for breakfast. Go!

The market was ok, honestly nothing out of the ordinary, but the area around the market is really interesting. Boutique shops sprouting up in an otherwise mostly industrial abandoned area. We headed to Detroit City Distillery for a tasting of their gin and ryes and then decided to grab seats at the massive wood bar for a cocktail made with said spirits. As you do around noon on a Saturday.

Refreshed, we called an Uber and headed to our next stop, the Shinola Midtown store. We had already seen the Shinola clocks around town, the company is one of the most visual to try to create more jobs in the city (besides Quicken and Little Cesar's) since opening there in 2011. The shop could have as easily been in Brooklyn as Detroit; bespoke watches and leather goods, a live DJ, and a spirits tasting in front of the luxury bicycle production area.

The city is so spread out that we called another Uber and headed back to the hotel to drop off my purchases. Then we went for the ultimate Detroit snack, a Detroit Coney. There are two famous places to get these at, Lafayette or American, which happen to be side by side and owned by brothers. We chose Lafayette, sat at the counter, and had some locals assist us with our order of coney dogs and fries. When you go, and why wouldn't you, be sure you have cash. No credit cards accepted.

We stopped back at the "beach" in the downtown park for some shade and cold drinks before meeting up with our Urban Adventures walking tour; I was really excited to see and hear more of the amazing architecture of this city!

There were 8 of us with our guide Charles, a retired Detroit-er. He was sweet and full of information, but he was also very long winded. One of the coolest stops that Mark and I hadn't already done ourselves was the GM Renaissance Center. Charles not only took us around the buildings but took us to an awesome spot for views of the waterfront and got us up to the 72nd for amazing views of the river, and the lake.

On our tour we spent time around the stadiums, Greektown, passed the Joe Louis memorial, saw the Ford and Penobscot Buildings, etc. When they were headed to some places we had already visited, Mark and I cut out as the tour was already in overtime. I really like this company for walking tours, Forest and I did one in Mexico City that I was really impressed with also.

That night we met at the Motor Bar in the Westin for cocktails before taking an Uber to Hazel Park, about 30 minutes away, for dinner at Mabel Gray.

Wow! We had the tasting menu with wine pairings and everything was spectacular. The restaurant itself is very casual and looks like a diner. It is also a little loud, but I think that was mainly the table of 6 next to us who were very drunk and seemed like they hadn't been let out of the house for a while. My poor brother got a whole glass of red wine spilled on his khakis as one of them accidently knocked it across the table!
Once they left, we enjoyed the rest of our meal and ended up closing the restaurant down. On our drive back into town it became very apparent how much of the city's buildings were abandoned as whole blocks were just completely dark.

We started our last day at the Roasting Plant for coffee, a peek inside of CompuCom's HQ with its awesome lobby water feature, and one more visit to the Guardian Building, this time getting into the Bank of America area.
We grabbed an Uber and had her take us to the infamous Michigan Central Station. Abandoned in 1988, this hulking building sits crumbling while bicyclists ride on the paths that once were train tracks. There are ongoing battles between those who want it demolished and those who want it saved. Kindof like the city itself I'd say.
We walked over to Slow's BBQ for a good lunch before walking back to the Westin through Corktown. We walked along parts of Michigan Ave that are still brick, past the lot where the old Tiger Stadium was, towards the skyline of downtown Detroit. It was all very quiet.
I'm so glad I went to Detroit, and even more fun was experiencing it with my brother. It's a complicated situation for sure, not just the issue of jobs and attracting younger people, but what to do with these buildings and how to connect the suburbs which are so far away. We'll all just have to wait and see!
All photos from Detroit here.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Last Call London!


My absolutely over-the-top awesome trip was coming to an end but not without one last fun-packed day. We had planned a group brunch at Mac & Wild with some local friends. This place is delicious! Forest described the concept as "gun to table" and that is spot on. In fact each day the menu clearly states who shot the game and from where, as well as which farms provided the beef and which breed it was.

The restaurant was really loud which made it difficult to catch up, but the food was excellent. We shared haggis mac and cheese for the table, and then while the others all ordered the famed burger (1 venison patty, 1 beef patty) I opted for the Sunday roast. The platter was amazing, with slices of rare venison nestled inside a huge popover, a boat of gravy, and roasted vegetables. The popover was bit drier than I like but overall it was a good roast!
Forest and I said goodbye to our friends, grabbed an Uber and headed to the Bethnal Green area. It was the last day of London Cocktail Week and we were up for one last cocktail crawl. This neighborhood is out there a bit but it is kind of an up-and-coming area and fun to check out. Our first stop was the East London Liquor Company.
As the name implies, they are distilling their own spirits and serving up cocktails made with them. I wasn't interested in the LCW drink so I chose one with their gin, Lillet, and violet. The cocktail was ok, too heavy on the violet for me, but neither of us were blown away by the drinks or the service here. And when we stopped into the bottle shop to inquire about a few things on the shelves, the woman working knew absolutely nothing about the products.

We enjoyed a nice 20-minute walk to our next destination, Satan's Whiskers. This may have been one of my favorite bars on this trip! Our bartender Dan was excellent; he made fantastic drinks while chatting with us about our visit, and telling us a bit about the area, and his thoughts on other bars in London. The atmosphere is awesome, just big enough as not to be tiny, cool decor with requisite taxidermy, and super friendly staff. And delicious drinks! We started with their LCW daiquiri special which was delicious using Bacardi 8 yr rum.
This area probably isn't one that most people visiting London will be in, but if you find yourself near, do yourself a favor and get into this bar!

From here we headed a few blocks away towards the overhead train tracks and to the row of bars and restaurants housed underneath, known as Paradise Row. One of them is Sager & Wilde, a two-level bar with a cozy "living room" upstairs, that is dimly lit and very industrial feeling.

The cocktail menu here is quite unique; I started with a mezcal drink made with burnt and clarified milk, bay leaf, caramel, cinnamon, and lemon.
For round two we each ordered a different expression from their Old Fashioned menu; mine contained olive oil while Forest's had toasted coconut. Again, if you happen to be in this interesting area of London, I'd absolutely recommend checking out Sager & Wilde (they looked to have some tasty food as well).

We had our Uber drop us off back in our 'hood at Percy & Founders for one last martini. And with that our awesome time in London, partaking in both the World's 50 Best Bar awards and London Cocktail Week wrapped up.
The next morning I took an Uber to Paddington Station, just 10 minutes away,  where I boarded the Heathrow Express train to the airport. Nothing could have been easier or nicer than using this service. I just wish I would have done it on the way in also! I booked my ticket online, found the track easily at the station, and boarded the very nice train (they run every 15 minutes) for my 15-minute ride to Heathrow. No stops, no crowded tube, quiet and clean.

At Heathrow the train has a special platform with dedicated lifts up to the departure floor. Seriously, this is the only way to go!

I checked in for my flight, was invited to go through Fast Track security since I was flying 1st class, and as I was the only one in the queue was crazy quick and easy! After a little duty-free shopping, I checked into The Clubhouse that Delta shares with Virgin. Now this was a serious lounge. Table service, both a regular menu and also a deli with smoked salmon, sliced meats, cheeses, yogurts, etc. The lounge is one of the nicest I have been in with a spa, library, showers, quiet rooms, lovely bar, etc.


I chose a few things from the deli, ordered a mimosa, and some coffee, and caught up on some journaling. The only thing not great about The Clubhouse is that the location was a good 15+ minute walk to my gate, where I was the first to board. Gotta have time for a glass of Duetz before take off!

Shortly after take off, lunch was served and I was happy to see there was a choice of Indian food! Oh London! And unlike most airline meals, this one was really good!

Unfortunately the same could not be said for my seat whose lie-flat feature was broken which I found out when I went to take a nap. Fortunately the nice gentleman sitting behind me traded seats with me as he said he was going to work the entire time. Classy.

A few hours later I woke up to a snack service of salad and Cubano sandwich, also very good.

And then the sights of home came into view. Thank you London for such a super fun holiday!

All London photos here.

All posts from this trip:
World's 50 Best Bars 2016
Let's London Cocktail Week
London Delivers
From Brunch to Bed in Londontown

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

From Brunch to Bed in Londontown

As I've mentioned, our flat was in such a great location, so many things within walking distance! Day four started with me taking a quick walk to the new Bar Termini in Soho. This is the new venture from Tony Conigliaro of 69 Colebrook Row and is really charming. A tiny cubby-hole of a spot, the bar opens during the day serving espresso, light snacks, classic cocktails, and incredible service. I had a quick Spritz but would have loved to have a little sandwich and hang out for a bit. Even though they haven't been around for long, they hit the 50 Best Bar list at number 30! Be sure to check this spot out for a bite and a sit down.
On to Dean Street Townhouse for brunch with my friend Ally who moved to London from the Bay Area last year. This is a chic little restaurant, with a few rooms decorated in comfy fabric covered chairs, another that is very bistro like with red leather banquets, all connected to the hotel of the same name. We had a delicious brunch, mine complete with mimosa and a mini-English fry up (full size also available), and an even better time catching up. Another great spot in Soho!

Forest swung in to say hello and then the two of us were off to check out the London Cocktail Week Cocktail Village. It's like the Olympic Village, only boozier. The village was at Spitalfields Market which was an easy tube ride from Soho (I had kept my Oyster Card from a prior visit and had just topped it up at the kiosk at the airport). There were about 40 different pop-up bars, all serving £5 cocktails. My favorite was the Sipsmith bar and their London Cup which is their pre bottled take on Pimm's Cup.
For snacks, there was a great truck serving delicious Scotch Eggs to help soak up all the booze. Yum!

We wrapped up our visit to the village and stopped in at the very pretty Blixen bar connected to the market to sample their LCW drink and sit down for a bit. The space here is cute, and they have a nice amount of outside seating so it is a good stop if you're in the market, but I wouldn't go out of my way (at least not for the drinks, the food, however, may be very good).

Back on the tube, we made our way to Farringdon to Hix Oyster and Chop House, which is just outside the Smithfield meat market. Forest and I were both really looking forward to some oysters and these did not disappoint. I didn't write down the species that we got but look at how big and flat the shells are! Also I have never had oysters served to me with the top lid set on! And those sausages were tasty as well.
We also ordered the LCW special which was called Gremlin No. 2. Not only was it delicious but it was a beautiful green concoction; gin, house-made parsley syrup, lemon juice, absinthe, pepper tincture, and cardamon infused apricot liqueur. The only thing at Hix that was a bit off was the bartender. This guy was like ice, it was actually funny he was so un-customer service oriented. I've been to other Hix restaurants and in general, have always found them to have great food and excellent drinks, I'd recommend.

Slurping down the last of our oysters and our cocktail, we were off to the new Oriole Bar, located on "Poultry Avenue" at the Smithfield Market. The dodgy-esque entrance had a doorman checking reservations (highly recommended) who then ushered us in and down stairs (this is the 2nd bar by the folks from Nightjar and the entrance is a similar experience). When we got to the bar itself we were greeted by a luxe room that seemed a little 70's Hollywood, a little tropical, and a lot swanky. This time, we were seated at the bar (after reminding them that I had requested this in my reservation), and were presented with gorgeous menus filled with charming anecdotes disguised as cocktails lists.

Even the water was flavored and garnished in a lovely manner. We had a great time here, especially with our bartender who had a certain flair of his own and was very serious (but friendly) about his job. Each bartender seems to be responsible for a certain area of the bar and therefore the particular drinks which are made there. Like in restaurant kitchens. Sometimes that means that one drink may be delivered before the other.
As with Nightjar, it's all about the creative vessel and garnish game here. One drink had an ice ball carved like a rose, scented with rose water while another drink had a marzipan bird flying across a cube with flowers frozen in it. When we asked for our tab we were presented with two miniature ice cream cones. Adorable! Too bad the ice cream flavor was mushroom! Ugh, but still adorable! This is a fantastic bar, another new one to the scene and hitting the 50 Best Bar list at 32. Get there!

We weren't quite done for the evening and grabbed an Uber to head to the ultra posh Savoy Hotel on the banks of the River Thames. Inside we made our way to American Bar which has received massive amounts of kudos and is currently #2 on the 50 Best Bar list.  Right from the start, the service was amazing. We didn't have reservations and this was Saturday night; the hostess told us it would be a 30-minute wait but unlike last night when that was a lie, here she came and got us in 15.
We were seated at a cozy little table in the main room near the piano (I don't know what it is about the Brits but they love live music in bars!), given some upscale bar snacks, and a beautiful menu of cocktails.

Our drinks were wonderful and averaging £18 each, expensive! But we were having such a fun time and the service and atmosphere were so good that we decided to stay for a nightcap martini.

We settled up and sticking with the very British experiences we had all evening, asked the doorman grab us a London Black Cab for the trip home. In the past I had found these to be quite expensive but it seems they are competitive in price now, or at least to the cocktails!

Other posts from this trip:
World's 50 Best Bars 2016
Let's London Cocktail Week
London Delivers
Last Call London

All London photos here.

Friday, November 11, 2016

London Delivers


Day three in London and another gorgeous fall day to play around town in. We hopped in an Uber and made our way to Knightsbridge and Harvey Nichols. On the fifth floor, we found the aptly named Fifth Floor Bar. I'd heard in the past it was quite a sight of pinks and greens, giving off a bit of an Alice in Wonderland vibe. Recently the bar had been redecorated with a modern and slightly stark feel. The bar is also a Grey Goose branded bar for the next year.

We had the LCW cocktail which was a perfect late morning tipple of St Germain, prosecco, and soda water in a super cute mini St Germain vessel. The bar itself is fine but I wouldn't go out of my way to visit. If I were shopping downstairs, however, I would indeed pop up.
We were just one-and-done here as we were heading across the street to the Mandarin Oriental where we had lunch reservations at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. I was super excited for our lunch at this 2-star Michelin restaurant which is also #7 on the World's 50 Best list.

We were shown to a fantastic table right next to the glass-encased kitchen, where we could see all the action as well as these carmelizing pineapples which were hung and rotating in the open grill. We also had a front-row seat, so to speak, of most of the other tables which made for great people watching. The room is gorgeous and their wall scones resembling pudding molds completely charmed me.

We decided to take the set lunch menu and unlike lunch the day before, this time we opted for the wine pairings. We also decided to start with a delicious glass of champagne. We make great decisions.
Our first course (we both ordered the same) was a salad of dressed snails on grilled lettuces and served with a really lovely Greek white. I loved the different textures and temperatures of this! And I love snails!

My second course of pork belly was amazing! And the Saint Joseph Rhone red went perfectly. Forest had the halibut and although it was good too, it didn't stand up to the pork.Throughout this our service had also been exceptional, the somm, in particular, had been great at chatting wines with us and changing things up a bit based on our preferences.
We ordered one each to share of the British cheese plate and the chocolate and yuzu dessert. Both were lovely but the cheese plate was really great! One dessert that wasn't an option on the set menu was tableside-made icecream. A very fun bit of whimsy in an otherwise proper setting!

I'd say the entire meal was a big thumbs-up but to be fair we did have an unusually long wait between our first and main course and also a tiny snafu with the bill. They had charged us for a wrong wine and it wasn't a big enough amount to ask them to fix it but honestly at this level of dining that should never happen. Regardless we had a lovely multi-hour lunch and it was time to head out to explore more of London's finest cocktail bars!

Talk about opposites, we grabbed an Uber and were whisked away from the posh Mandarin Oriental to Hoxton and the cocktail-driven dive-ish bar White Lyan. This bar had made a huge splash on the scene for serving delicious drinks in an environment using no fresh ingredients. All cocktails are prebatched and bottled, using really interesting ingredients. Forest ordered the LCW cocktail of Jack, cold brew coffee, and house cola while I ordered the Salad with gin, lettuce, herbs de Provence, and apple soda.

From Hoxton, it was a nice walk to the Shoreditch area where we had reservations at Nightjar. I'd been before on my last visit to London and had absolutely loved it here; this time didn't live up to that visit but the bar is still doing some very interesting things. My issue was more in the service, and specifically about all these "rules" they seem to have going on. When I made the reservations online I specifically asked for seats at the bar but when we arrived we were told that only three people are allowed at the bar at a time (even though there were six barstools). The waitress said they'd move us up after the others left.

My Cocktail a La Louisiane was delicious and came with a "voodoo smoked" base. We had a few snacks and decided to have a round two. When we ordered we asked about moving up to the bar since it was now empty and she told us she would check. Then a man was shown to a seat there! When she returned with our drinks she said "I know what you're thinking but that is one of our delivery guys". He had a great time drinking at the bar!

Before we left she brought us a round of pretty punch as she knew we were frustrated. If they would have just said upfront, "nope, won't work tonight" it would have been better.

Another easy walk, this time to Islington and The Gibson. This wasn't originally on my list but everyone was talking about it at the 50 Best Bar awards the night before. Brand new, they hit the list for the first time at number 6! Unfortunately, as this was Friday night, the little bar was packed and we couldn't get a seat inside. We grabbed a table out front on the sidewalk and ordered their LCW special The Gibson Martin with house pickled onions and beef tartare canapes. Both were good but sitting outside under heat lamps just didn't give us the experience that we were looking for.

We headed back to our own hood and decided to try again to get into Punch Room. We had stopped in on our first night in town but they had a private event going on. This time we put our names on the list and were told it would be about 30-minutes. We walked into Berners Tavern, the other bar inside the London Edition hotel, and were lucky to get seats at the absolutely beautiful bar. The whole room is stunning!
Gorgeous space, delicious drinks, over-the-top nice bartenders. Our names never did come up for Punch Room but we had a great time here; I'd absolutely recommend a stop in if you are in Soho. The food looked fantastic as well.

And with that, we finally called it a night!


Other posts from this trip:
World's 50 Best Bars 2016
Let's London Cocktail Week
From Brunch to Bed in Londontown
Last Call London

All London photos here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Let's London Cocktail Week!

My trip to London last month was booked around the World's 50 Best Bar awards which I posted about here. But that wasn't all the fun on the docket as London Cocktail Week was also happening! I had ordered our wrist bands online; those gave us access to 250 bars around London, most offering a £5 cocktail. Forest arrived in town before me and graciously picked them up along with a handy pocket guide of the participating bars and their featured cocktail arranged by neighborhood. Now, we weren't going to hit 250 bars in five days, but we'd get around a bit for sure. We'd even eat some tasty bites along the way!

On our first night we headed out into our 'hood of Fitzrovia to Reverend JW Simpson. Yaguara cachaça was having an event there and the featured cocktail featured their spirit with lemon, mango, and pink peppercorn spiced pineapple juices. It was delicious and everyone was having a great time.

This spot seemed like a great neighborhood joint. It's below ground, a little divey, and serving up lovely cocktails. I was already loving this area of London.

I hadn't eaten since my dinner on my flight the night before, so we exited the festivities and headed to The Blind Pig, which is the popular gastropub upstairs from the Social Eating House. There was a doorman outside the unmarked door who showed us up the stairs. Immediately I noticed how dark it was and how loud it was. Not my two favorite things. The LCW drink special didn't sound good to me so I went with a Slap n' Pickle containing a lot of my favorite things- Hendrick's gin, apricot brandy, kummel, lemon, pickle brine.

We ordered a bit of food, they serve what I would call elevated pub grub. It was good, not great, but I was having a super time catching up with my friend so all was A-OK. Our service was really off and it wasn't very busy so not sure what the issue was. My second drink was a testament to London's practice of über-garnishing. The Silver Screen had popcorn infused Bourbon, house made cola reduction, house made bitters, and "snacks".

We tabbed out and had a great walk the to the Artesian Bar inside The Langham Hotel. The Artesian had been the darling child of the cocktail world for years, but a mass exodus had occurred recently and opinions were plenty that it wasn't what it once was. A 50 Best Bar winner four years in a row, this year they didn't make the list at all. Unfortunately for me I never had a chance to experience the original team and this visit was luke warm at best. The space is gorgeous, don't get me wrong, but the service was not up to the level of a world-class bar and the drinks were just good. The menu and presentation however are awesome! They are still presenting the Dali-inspired cocktails in very unique styles.
Continuing with my Hendrick's game, the Always Print the Myth arrived in this lovely sea urchin vessel and was created with aquavit, sherry, cucumber, lemon balm and cedar. Forest chose the LCW drink which featured tequila and was paired with a lovely little tuna tartare "taco". We had had a bit of a wait before we were seated, and that had entailed standing at the bar which neither of us has issue with, however the bartenders never took our order. I think our waitress picked up on our frustration as when we called for the check after just one round she brought us each a drink on the house.

As we made our way back to our flat we decided that a nightcap martini was in order, but the cute bar we had seen on our way out that evening was closed. We wandered past a very traditional pub which seemed to have a great gin selection so we went in. Upon ordering I was met with a gobsmacked look from the bartender. He then cobbled together what he declared his first stab at making martinis. Oh lord; warm gin, a glass rim rubbed with lemon, and a splash of possibly turned vermouth.
He couldn't have been nicer though, checking in to make sure we liked it. But that is not how we were going to end our night!

Percy & Founders to the rescue! This spot was about 2 blocks from our flat. We walked into the very nice restaurant that has two bars, picked the one that looked best and were rewarded with two lovely women bartenders who not only made us proper martinis with two different gins, but also served us their LCW drink, The Bombay Fairy (gin, orange liqueur, elderflower cordial, and a touch of absinthe. The ladies showed us around, including a glimpse of Fitzrovia Chapel which was part of the building and was included in the design of the restaurant, before walking us out.  Now that was a nightcap!
What a great first night in town! And we were able to walk to all these places in Soho, Marylebone, and Fitzrovia. Oh London, you always steal my heart a bit!

All London photos here.

Other posts from this trip:
World's 50 Best Bars 2016
London Delivers
From Brunch to Bed in Londontown
Last Call London