“When a man is tired of London he is tired of life.”
“When a man is tired of London he is tired of life” so said Samuel Johnson. And he had a point, there’s always something new to discover in our capital. New people. New design. New ideas. New experiences. Here’s where we’ll be hanging out.
East London Liquor Company, Bow Wharf E3
Spirits are having a bit of a moment right now. Artisanal distilleries seem to be popping up everywhere and London in particular seems to be heaving with lovingly created versions of connoisseur favourites such as gin and whisky.
The East London Liquor Company is definitely one to check out as it’s not only London’s first distillery in over 100 years, it’s also helping to revive Mile End’s lost tradition in the art. Set up in 2014 by Alex Wolpert, the premises are located on the site of an old glue factory in Bow Wharf, near Victoria Park, just a few miles from the site of the Lea Valley Distillery; one of the last places whiskey was distilled in England before the modern craft revival.
They currently produce four gins, a rum, a wheat-vodka and a whisky on site using traditional distilling methods and equipment, including copper stills.
They have a bar and restaurant on the distillery premises, but the real experience is in the distillery tours and tasting experiences. The lofty cavernous space with its raw industrial look and beautiful bar is worth the visit alone. The cocktails are inspired and the boutique selling not just ELLC’s produce but also a carefully curated selection of bitters, whiskies and other draft gins too, is also worth a visit
Edible Cinema, pop-up venues
Forget foot-long hotdogs of questionable provenance, movie food has been upgraded to a whole new level thanks to Edible Cinema. In effect, you get to ‘taste’ movie moments, captured as canapés or cocktails thanks to the artistry of food designers, chefs and mixologists. The set-up is simple enough.
Audience members get a tray of small numbered containers on their seat, each of which holds a canapé-sized serving or mini cocktail. During the film, food-matched moments are signalled showing which container should be opened and enjoyed. The menus seek to bring to life characters, feelings, and environments during the film.
In Some Like It Hot, Sugar’s attempt to overcome Junior’s ‘frigidity’ on the yacht by covering him in alcohol-soaked kisses was served up as a lightly powdered, rose tinted turkish delight; and the famous orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally was twinned with a sensual cocktail of Bombay Sapphire, Creme de Cacao Blanc, almond syrup, still water and lime.
The element of surprise is as indulgent as the concoctions themselves, so next time you’re thinking of going to the movies, why not treat yourself and your taste buds to some serious special effects?
Ziferblat, Shoreditch EC1V
The cynics among you look away now, things are about to get seriously optimistic. For the princely sum of 8p per minute Ziferblat invites you to, you know, hang out with other people and do stuff. Or not. Just chill if you want. Have a coffee and a slice of cake. Paint a picture. Make a new friend. Read your book. Have a nap. Listen to some live music…and the like.
‘Everything is free except the time you spend here’ so says their motto. The Ziferblat team want you to treat their environments (they have 14 locations worldwide, including one on Old Street in London, and are aiming for 1000 by 2025) as a sort of home from home, with the added benefit of other like-minded people wandering in and out occasionally.
It’s a nice thought, if a little hard to get your head around to begin with. Think of it as networking for the kind of people who don’t do networking. Or the Student Union bar without the lingering whiff of rugby players. The one rule? Respect the space and the other people in it. Ziferblat’s model is as empowering as it is eccentric.
Draughts, Hackney E8
Feeling bored? Then get your board (games) on at Draughts, London’s first board game café. Located in a railway arch in Hackney, the funky venue packs an impressive collection of over 600 games for customers to peruse and play. From backstabbing, friendship-busters like Risk and Diplomacy, to gentler classics such as Monopoly and Snakes & Ladders there’s a board for everyone here.
There’s a great selection of café fare too, which will keep you well-oiled as you attempt to conquer the world or add a shovel to an already dangerously overloaded donkey’s back (yes, they have Buckaroo). The sharing boards of charcuterie, mezze, meats and cheese, are a great complement to juggling chess pieces, and to the local craft beers, ales, and ciders (drink sensibly if losing).
Draughts also host tournaments, themed evenings and design workshops led by professional board game designers – making it the perfect destination for sharpening up your gaming strategy or even inventing a new one.
Universe Tour, Greenwich SE10
Do you have a deep-seated desire to explore the universe but don’t quite have the technical now-how or the funds to build your own rocket? Well London’s only planetarium, The Peter Harrison Planetarium, located at Greenwich’s Royal Observatory, affords you the opportunity to traverse the planets without ever leaving SE10 – let alone planet Earth. Okay, technically speaking it’s a simulation, but it’s the next best thing and a lot more comfortable than space travel.
The 120-seat Peter Harrison Planetarium uses sophisticated technology to beam the universe in all its splendour onto the dome. Employing state-of-the-art HD projection technology, the planetarium combines real imagery from spacecraft and telescopes, alongside insight from astronomers, offering star gazers an experience that’s as immersive as it is informative.
Popular destinations include the Sun, distant galaxies, witnessing the birth of a star and landing on Mars. And it’s a damn sight easier to get to than any of those.