Unless it fills you with too much horror, cast your mind back to school: World Book Day meant dressing up as your favourite literary protagonist and showers of free bookmarks. So what’s a grown-up to do? Well, there are a fair few London restaurants and bars marking the occasion with novel cocktails and more. It certainly beats a free bookmark…
Words: Eamonn Crowe
The Blind Pig, Soho
What: Jason Atherton’s flagship bar has launched a cocktail menu inspired by classic children’s literature. The ten-strong list, entitled Long and Short Great British Tails, includes a Winnie the Pooh-inspired Hunny Pot (rum with salted butter, apple brandy, lemon, honey and orange bitters) and the luminous Dream Jar (pictured), a vodka, apricot, lemon and vanilla blend in tribute to The BFG.
Where: 58 Poland Street, W1F 7NR
The Bloomsbury Club Bar, Bloomsbury
What: The bar has created a literary-inspired drinks menu and guests can exchange an unwanted paperback book for one of these, ahem, novel cocktails. Each book will then be sold to a second-hand bookshop, with proceeds going to Great Ormond Street Hospital. You might order a Hemingway Daquiri, or F Scott Fitzgerald’s preferred tipple, a Gin Rickey.
Where: 16-22 Great Russell Street, WC1B 3NN
The Cinnamon Club, Westminster
What: If you’re less of an author and more of a literature-loving eater, why not dine surrounded by wall-to-wall books? The Cinnamon Club is actually the Old Westminster Library don’t you know. Think classic wood panelling endless books. Oh, and seriously classy Indian food (don’t miss the Old Delhi-style butter chicken with black lentils).
Where: The Old Westminster Library, 30-32 Great Smith Street, SW1P 3BU
The Dog and Duck, Soho
What: In this long-standing Soho pub, George Orwell famously went on a bender to celebrate the American success of Animal Farm (the 1950s-style upstairs saloon is named after him). While you’re penning the next 1984 here, chow down on a hearty portion of fish & chips or a chicken and chorizo pie. Also, there’s a strong selection of ales and gin for when the writer’s block gets too much.
Where: 18 Bateman Street, W1D 3AJ
The Grapes, Limehouse
What: This Thames-side boozer was a regular for Mr Charles Dickens and he even referenced it in Our Mutual Friend. If you’re looking to invoke your writing muse, stop by for one of the pub’s warming pies and chunky chips, or a very affordable Sunday roast. Sir Ian McKellen now owns The Grapes, so you’ll also find Gandalf’s actual staff from The Lord of the Rings movies behind the bar.
Where: 76 Narrow Street, E14 8BP
The London Edition, Fitzrovia
What: The London Edition is getting in on the literary cocktail action by teaming up with Penguin Classics. The lobby bar has created three new cocktails, each of which comes with a free book. The pairings include Breakfast at Tiffany’s with a Vermillionaire (Holly Golightly’s favourite Champagne cocktail), and a Milk Punch with a copy of A Clockwork Orange, which references the Moloko cocktail from the novel’s Korova Milk Bar.
Where: 10 Berners Street, W1T 3NP
If you’re an all-round culture vulture, peruse our pick of the best London restaurants with pre- and post-theatre menus.
This article was published 2 March 2017