1 | The Drink: Milky Bar Snowball at Duck & Waffle (above)
Duck & Waffle’s magician-like mixologist has conjured up an inspired Christmas cocktail menu. It stars the grown-up version of a liquid Milky Bar fused with Seventies classic, the Snowball. It’s comfort drinking at its finest, with the look – and taste – of a gleeful childhood treat. Vodka and distilled lemon are mixed with homemade Milky Bar Advocaat, alongside egg white, Prosecco and, just for a bit of festive kudos, some frankincense. For those with a more savoury tooth, there is also a martini infused with Christmas tree, and a champagne cocktail with a hint of mince pie. Drinks served with oomph and theatre, and a mega view across the city’s skyline? Perfect.
110 Bishopsgate, London, EC2N 4AY; duckandwaffle.com
2 | The Food: The Christmas Menu at Parlour
Christmas menus are absolutely everywhere. But there is one that has something rather special (or disturbing, depending which way you look at it). Parlour is a charming restaurant come pub tucked away in Kensal Rise. For the festive season, its ever-playful menu features both a reindeer and clementine salad in the starters, and a delicious reindeer pie as a main. If you have moral issues with eating old Rudolph’s chums, then you can stick to the chestnut hummus, turkey kiev or scrumpy-glazed pulled pork on offer as well, but each to their own. Chef Jesse Dunford Wood is one of London’s lesser-known gems, so this is a tip from us to you (it is Christmas, after all).
5 Regent Street, London, NW10 5LG; parlourkensal.com
3 | The Festival: Winterville
Christmas markets and winter wonderlands can all get a bit much; cupping your freezing fingers around a glass of tepid wine whilst getting jostled by crowds as you try to glimpse a couple of food stalls that will bankrupt you. You should head to Winterville instead. Based in East London’s Victoria Park, entrance is free and it’s full of fun, independent sellers. You can also take a horse-drawn carriage ride this Saturday and Sunday. And if that’s overkill on the corny romance front, you can balance things out with the Wall of Death, where riders on vintage motorcycles do stunts in London’s only motordrome. There’s a roller-disco too, and excellent food and drink, obviously.
Victoria Park, Grove Road, London, E3 5TB; winterville.co.uk
4 | The Pop Up: Schmoke
For those in the know, Shutterbug is the place to go for crepes – you can have a three-course meal of them if you really like. But running until Christmas, it is also home to a smoky pop-up bar on the outdoor terrace. Smoky in every sense: whilst shisha billows through the air, the chef mans a traditional Dutch smoker churning out smoked sausages, smoked bacon, smoked crème fraiche, even smoked bananas to go in the cocktails (which are all designed to warm the cockles from the cold). With Christmas tunes courtesy of DJs from super trendy music shop, Love Vinyl, make your way here to snuggle up under a blanket and take in the fragrant (if not so fresh) air.
Until 24th December: Wed/Thurs 6pm-midnight; Fri/Sat 6pm-1am
1 Rivington Place, London, EC2A 3BA; shutterbug-london.com
5 | The Carols: Mr Fogg’s
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a verse or two of Deck the Halls and, instead of freezing your toes off outside, the Friday afternoon carols at quirky Mayfair bar, Mr Fogg’s, are just the ticket. The Victorian-style, adventurer-themed venue is hosting a singsong around the piano at the end of each week, and they provide song sheets in case you can’t remember the words. With warm cider, mulled wine or any one of their amazingly peculiar cocktails in hand, what could go wrong?
15 Bruton Lane, London, W1J 6JD; mr-foggs.com
6 | The Daytime Activity: Vauxhall Christmas Tree Maze
Wrap up warm and spend a weekend afternoon meandering round (and hopefully not getting lost in) Vauxhall’s Christmas tree maze, where more than 1000 Nordman Firs have been trussed up with twinkly LED lights – ideal festive fodder. And if you make it right through to the middle, you’ll find a treat waiting for you, but that remains a surprise. There’s a skating rink nearby, plus mulled wine and a brilliant chippy in the form of a big red London bus. What more could you want?
Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, Kennington Lane, London, SE11 5HY; iceskatevauxhall.co.uk/attractions/christmas-tree-maze/