As Christmas approaches, London is lit with beautiful decorations, shops have started their pre-Thanksgiving and Christmas sales and the rush to get your Christmas presents sorted before the final few weeks are in full force. Oxford Circus is heaving with late night shoppers and the festive spirits are taking London by storm. What if I told you just a few minutes away from the hustle and bustle resides a cosy nook, serving some of the most delicious cocktails, flavoursome dishes and some of the finest Scottish après ski like interiors. Think twinkling fairy lights, tartan blankets and soft fluffy cushion covers. Doesn’t that sound like the perfect escape after a few hours of shopping?
Behind Selfridges, the stunning 5-star hotel, Hyatt Regency – The Churchill have recently opened their winter terrace with a Scottish highlands theme. Bringing a piece of the North down to the South – you feel like you have been whisked away a few hundred miles with Scottish whiskey based cocktails, traditional Scottish pies and some of the finest tartan cosies draped over the chairs. The weather currently in London matches the North perfectly too, so grab a hot water bottle, blanket and snuggle up for the evening, enjoying the Hyatt hospitality.
Alice and I began our evening with a couple of cocktails, recommend by our bartender. As I wanted something sweet to start, I ordered the Bonnie Unicorn made with Ketel One Citron vodka, Chambord, bubble gum syrup, pineapple & lime juice, double cream and strawberry puree before being topped with whipped cream. When you drink it, it actually tastes like you’re drinking the rainbow! It goes back to the old Celtic mythology where the unicorn was a symbol of purity, innocence, masculinity, power and courage and was first used on the Scottish royal coat of arms.
Alice went for the Atholl Brew made with Zacapa 23, Sangue Morlacco and Brose (the Scots’ way of saying uncooked oats). The story behind this cocktail goes back to 1475 when John Stewart, the first Earl of Atholl used to mix honey, oats and whisky to intoxicate and capture John McDonald, a rebel of the time.
To accompany our cocktails, we were brought out an array of light bites. From salmon and caviar bellinis, to croque-monsieurs and foie gras – a lovely array of nibbles to snack on whilst sipping on cocktails.
The food menu at The Churchill Bar is more than what your average bar serves, you can order an array of large plates as a main course, so there is no need to go elsewhere for dinner. You can enjoy an eclectic mix of dishes right in the warmth of the terrace. A bowl of pasta or a classic Scottish steak and ale pie under the comfort of a blanket? It’s like the comfort of being at home but in a social, high end setting of the Hyatt. What’s there not to love?!
I would definitely say the ‘must haves’ are the striploin steak “Tagliata” with home-made chimichurri, the steak & ale pie, bone marrow jus and the potato and black truffle croquets. So delicious!
After dinner, we moved onto another round of cocktails. This time Alice ordered the Caledonian Highball, which is made with Porcini infused Ketel One, 40 years old Graham’s Port, honey & rosemary cordial and Pol Roger champagne. This cocktail was dedicated to Scotland’s gorgeous landscape, the Caledonian forest, which is one of the oldest European treasures filled with ancient pines. The cocktail takes you through a journey of the wild natural flavours of the forest.
I ordered a cocktail from the five senses menu, going for the ‘Texture of the Islands’ made with Talisker 10, green chartreuse, Juniper extract, honey & lavender water, jasmine tea and served with Talisker foam. The idea behind this cocktail is that the rugged remote surroundings of the Isle of Skye is home to one of the oldest malt scotch whisky distillers, Talisker. This cocktail honours them by being served with the three core requirements for creating whisky, barley, peat, water and a wooden barrel.
Time goes so fast when you’re having fun and before we knew it is was creeping towards 11pm, but we just had one more cocktail before we were surprised with something ever so sweet by the staff at the Hyatt Churchill Bar.
I ordered another of the five senses, the ‘Scent of the Lowlands’ made with Glenkinchield, Dubonnet, an old vine reduction, orange bitters and finished up by smoking lavender. The Scottish lowlands has miles of woodland and farmland, including lavender. The light, clean and fresh aroma of Glenkinchie surprises you with a unique experience, which can only be tasted after you sniff your way through the foggy Lowlands created by the burnt, smokey lavender.
Alice wanted to finish up with something refreshing, before our moment of sweetness. She ordered the Blenheim Fizz which is made with Beluga vodka, grape syrup, lemon juice, fresh basil leaves, and Pol Roger champagne.
I did say there was a whole lot of sweetness coming up! The lovely team at Hyatt Regency – The Churchill and The Churchill Bar treated us to a sweet send off, with a chocolate fondue. This is definitely winter at its best. You can never say no to fresh fruit dipped in hot, bubbling chocolate – absolute bliss!
Before we knew it, Alice and I were leaving the terrace close to midnight. We just didn’t know where the evening went, but we did know it was filled with divine cocktails, fantastic food and great company.
Whether you’re coming to the terrace for cocktails, dessert, dinner or the full works, you can rest assured that you will leave feel completely spoilt and full of deliciousness, as I do every time I visit!
Until next time…