‘Once Upon a Wigwam’ at Queen of Hoxton
The seasonal themes on the Queen of Hoxton rooftop have been increasingly refined over the past year or so. Following the success of the Smoking Gracielas pop-up over the summer, Queen of Hoxton have surpassed themselves again to bring you Once Upon a Wigwam. Themed around Grimm’s fairy tales, ascending the (many) stairs to the rooftop is like climbing into a different world. Maybe you’ll choose to clamber the treehouse structure in the heart of the wigwam or toast marshmallows around the huge fire. Perhaps you’ll simply sit at a lace-covered table and sip your steaming hot cocktails, but whatever you do, you’ll have the feeling of being in a grown-up playground. Make sure to snag a candy apple or gingerbread man from the gingerbread bar. A hot tip: Their hot buttered rum, topped with a clove-studded orange or lemon, will take some beating.
Queen of Hoxton, 1 Curtain Road, London, UK, +44 20 7422 0958
Is it a cosy chalet in the Swiss Alps” No, it’s Clapham North. Jimmy Garcia’s latest venture, The Lodge, is here to charm you through the season with a selection of hot cocktails, surprisingly delicate dishes, and a star turn by a huge dish of fondue. While the fondue is the warm heart of the menu, the starters and mains should not be overlooked. A pop-up ski lodge might easily fall into the trap of being gimmicky, but Jimmy’s food wouldn’t look out of place in a Michelin-starred restaurant. A riot of colours and a perfect balance of flavours, you’ll spot smoked artichokes and candy-coloured beets, scallops decorated with edible flowers, and venison tartare. While the mulled wine is spiced to perfection, it would be remiss not to try the hot cocktails; a boozy hot chocolate with blood orange liqueur and an Earl Grey martini are the standouts. The ‘King of Pop Ups’ has done it again.
The Lodge, 409 Clapham Road, London, UK, +44 20 7737 0722
‘Squiffy Picnic’ at Cahoots
While not technically a pop-up, the ‘Squiffy Picnic’ is a new addition to the Cahoots offering, and a festive treat. For those who have shivered through bracing winter picnics in cold fields, sitting in the warm comfort of Cahoots with live jazz is hugely preferable while still maintaining the picnic spirit. Your adventure starts when you don straw hats and sit down with a china teacup full of Sipsmith’s Summer Cup and a brown bag full of sandwiches and rolls. This includes perennial British favourite, the jam sandwich. Next, you choose the squiffy part of the picnic — beer or cider, wine, or an excellent Nyetimber sparkling wine. The picnic itself is joyous, packed full of pork pies, sausages, a tin of shortbread, Victoria sponge, a DIY paper airplane and a pack of cards. Just when you think you’re done, a hip flask of sloe gin arrives with an enamel mug, and yet another hamper of cheese and crackers. You will leave Cahoots radiating happiness and definitely feeling rather squiffy — mission accomplished, old chaps.
Cahoots, Kingly Court, 13 Kingly Street, London, UK, +44 20 7352 6200
If you’re a homesick Swede in London this Christmas, or even if you’re simply a lover of all things Scandinavian, then head down to the Chelsea Physic Garden for a real treat. Skandilicious is a festive restaurant pop-up running across December, offering guests the experience of a real Swedish Christmas. For those unfamiliar with what this entails, think herring, charcuterie, pickles and meatballs. A proper smörgåsbord is good for the soul, and the Skandilicious version includes 35 different dishes. Relax in the candlelit surroundings, and join in the traditional Swedish drinking songs. If that seems a little daunting, indulge in the special Christmas cocktail menu beforehand. At £45, tickets include a welcome glögg and access to the all-you-can-eat smörgåsbord. Make sure you end the meal with some schnapps.
It’s another Scandinavian-themed Christmas in the capital — and quite right when the Scandinavians do it so well. Little Feast is transforming Shepherd’s Bush Yard into a fir tree-packed forest, complete with ivy-covered pergolas, bark on the floors and real Norwegian wood. Six separate sheds will serve up delicious seasonal street food and drinks. Not to worry if the weather is bad, as the venue is largely covered. Sample the slow-roasted pork from Sticky Beaks, paleo food from Feed Me Primal, or a good old wood-fired pizza from Tomattos. The Cabin Bar will be selling mulled wine, cider, and even a magnum of red wine if the mood takes you. Stop by on Saturday and Sunday daytimes to enjoy a mixture of entertainment, including choirs, carol singing, brass and jazz bands. As if that wasn’t enough, from November 23rd, the doors on the 8-foot-tall Giant Advent Calendar will start to be opened — each door has food and drink offers hidden behind it. If the festive feeling really kicks in, you can even pick up a real Danish Christmas tree.
Little Nan’s Tropical Den
What if you’ve had enough of traditional Christmas festivities” Maybe all the Norwegian wood has got a bit too much for you, and you’ve chugged a little too much mulled wine” Never fear — Little Nan’s Tropical Den is here, full of ironic fun and lashings of kitsch. This Peckham haunt is ‘dedicated to the love affair of Queen Pat Butcher and King Patrick Trueman’, and guests can expect cocktails in teapots, candy vodka shots, Caribbean food, a pic ‘n’ mix stand, and a Pat Butcher vs. Del Boy dress-up area. Leave your inhibitions at the door and give into the retro charm of this multi-award winning venue. A little extra to bear in mind — tell the venue if it’s your birthday and they’ll name a cocktail in your honour, using all your favourite flavours and spirits. Little Nan’s is open on Friday and Saturday nights until Christmas.
By Amelia Florence Simmons