Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day 5: I'm in LONDON BABY!

From the Edinburgh Airport (EDI), I flew into the London Luton and then from there I took the shuttle bus to the Tube Station, and being that it was a Sunday, the tube's were running as crazy as the NY's MTA system! I was greeted by my friends and we walked over to one of their favorite bar and we sat down outside the picnic table, and we put back several shandies. It was such a sunny and warm day in London. I was so lucky to be enjoying such wonderful weather on my first day. After the shandies, they escorted me to my flat in East of London. My friend's had set up arrangements to accommodate me in a flat where one of their friend was away on Holiday. Upon entering the flat, was a bottle of whiskey on the table, and a couple of Romeo and Julietta Cigars welcoming me to London!

I settled in, I took a nice soothing bath, smoked my cigar, sipped on my whiskey, laid back in the tub, and said, "Oh my God, I'm really loving London." I've been treated so well in my first few hours, but I knew I couldn't stay in this tub for too long ,(in La La Land) because my friends were going to come back in two hours. So then, I got dressed comfortably, because we were going to walk around in London town to all the hottest bars. They knocked on the door, and of course they showed up early, but I was ready to get my imbibing on. ....

First,we went to the West Indian Pre Festival (the actual festival was that following week.) We ate some great curry, and jerk dishes and it was great music, dancing and pure happiness surrounding me. Afterwards, we exited, and walked down the streets where I found plenty of street bazaars. I picked up two beautiful crystal decanters and a crystal ice bucket, for an extremely great price after negotiating. Now it was time to go to the cocktail bars. The first place was Jack the Ripper's old watering hole, the Ten Bells Pub(84 Commercial st.). Ten Bells was established in 1752, where Jack visited around 1888(The Autumn of Terror). We had some quick libations as I noticed the list of all of Jack's victims listed on the wall with the old newspaper clippings of his demonic black magic infused murder stories! Also, I saw the "Spitalfields in the Olden Times", which is the tile decor of this pub that haven't changed much, but the exterior of Ten Bells was renovated about 20 years ago.

After that interesting visit, we went to Calloh Callay(65 Rivington-Shoreditch) where I had some lovely cocktails and lagers. I enjoyed every drip of it, and since my friends knew the bartenders, they gave me a tour of the lounge, inside and out, where I found very interesting decors. I would say this lounge was an eclectic mix of non-matching over-sized couches, stools, chairs, vintage vanities transformed into a mini dry bar with a touch of Victorian, Rock an Roll, and whatever you want to call it... a true schizophrenic dream. It is rated one of the top cocktail bar in London.

Next we went to the L.A.B, the London Academy of Bartending. To give some background, it was originally a bartending school which trained personnel from many of Londons premier bars. The LAB is now offering it to everyone to experience. The LAB experience would give you the understanding of the varieties and basic ingredients, you'll be shown the secrets behind mixing great cocktails, from enduring classics, to new era LAB recipes. Following a brief expert demonstration, each participant, is set to master the art of cocktail shaking.

For further information, please check out http://www.lab-townhouse.com/. At this point of my drinking career, I finally experienced the best cocktail in my life, which was the Laphroaig ten year whiskey sour, with the use of the egg white for body and texture, along with the fresh squeezed lemon juice, and simple syrup. The LAB is a true balance of rawness and sophistication. It's ultra slick, funky bar interior is a great hangout to spy and be spied on. The LAB's passion for creating an evolving cocktail culture has been expressed its unique unrivaled cocktail menu. These menus have been collectors item for bartenders worldwide and have been spotted as far away as Asia, the Middle East, and Australia. From it's opening, the LAB swiftly became synonymous for its truly amazing cocktails and vibrant atmosphere.

**I need to give credit to Mr. Douglas Ankrah, because this information mainly came from his composition of the menu. **

Some names of cocktails that I found interesting that I didn't get a chance to drink, but in the menu they have broken their massive selection into sections. The first section is called "Streets Ahead," where you can find the great Spring daiquiri, and the Gobbler. In their "Short and Sexy" section, the Mon Cheri is highly suggested, and it goes on and on to the "High and Mighty" department, the "Latin Flavas," the "Hall of Fame," the "Old School," the "Collins," the "Martini Station," the "Charlie," the "Shooters," the "Breezes," and on and on. So as you can see, the LAB is well equipped to serve you for almost every libation desire you'll ever have. This place is outstanding, and I give it two thumbs up, and ten stars!!!

After that....We ended the night by going to the Road House, which is an American Style country western large cocktail bar with an English twist. Personally, with my travelings to Southern USA, the only things western in this place was the decor, which is not a bad thing. That night when we walked in, we stumbled upon the London Bar Wars, where they were flipping, flaring, mixing cocktails at the speed of light with great entertaining skills along the way. We did not see the complete show, and who actually won, due to the fact my friends had to go early to work the next day and I had to get up early to do the tourist thing in West Minster.

I did have a chance to walk around on foot, and check out all the little sights that I could see on my way back home to the flat. I walked around from the east end to the west end, to Chelsea to SoHo, and back to the flat that day. As I unwinded back at the flat, I relaxed on the balcony, had a cigar, had some whiskey, and looked at the stars, and it was beautiful night in London. It was so quiet and peaceful for it to be kinda a large city.

As I lounged a bit longer, I thought to myself, "I am not missing NYC!" I felt so at peace and relaxed, almost like I belong here. It was an overwhelming smile on the inside of my heart, and I was excited like a little girl on her birthday. I would never give this feeling up for nothing. I appreciate everyday as it comes to me, and I do realize that days I have been having like today and the past week were extra special. And I am very thankful.

NIGHTCAP:London Day 1. It was a Sunday, it was sunny, it was warm. It was full of alcohol and fun with friends, and festivities. I couldn't picture to have experienced this day in any other way. I love London, and I couldn't wait for the next day.


Roadhouse info:

Callooh Callay info:

**I was unable to find the Ten Bells website

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