Cocktails and bar training at EBS London

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Last weekend I spent a few hours doing something anyone who loves cocktails needs to do. I was invited to have ‘bar’ training at the European Bartender School in London.

I had no idea how hard making proper cocktails is. Like seriously, it is not an easy art to master. I’m usually too busy balancing several gins when I’m out to actually realise what’s going on behind a bar- like there is actually a way to stop pouring without just lifting up a bottle and it’s super fancy. Who even knew?

I knew I was going to be a fan when we arrived to a tray of mojitos with ALL of the mint- the exact way mojitos should be- and got a drink in us before the schooling began. I’ve heard of cocktail courses and such things before and a friend who had been on the EBS course got me all excited with tales of learning to spin bottles and making four cocktails at a time like an alcohol wizard- and it didn’t disappoint.

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I’m used to getting a massive bucket, inviting friends to bring a bottle round each and then throwing all manner of spirits and lemonade in and consequently dancing on the kitchen table. Pretty poor cocktail form (or ideal form, let’s be honest) so EBS have done me a favour.

If you do their basic course you learn how to pour properly for starters (pouring it turns out, is not easy) and how to count out measurements like a total professional in your head. Maths and cocktails.

There’s a reason you can’t drink on the job.

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What I was really excited for though, was flaring. You know the bit where the bartender throws bottles in the air and like juggles with glasses and makes everything look like a fancy show? Well I was well up for that thinking my strange bendy arms would hold me in good stead, but basically- No. IT’S SO HARD. There are flaring world championships. This is serious business. The EBS staff are so good at making it look like a total breeze that I thought something was wrong with me until I looked around and saw people hitting themselves with bottles and chasing straws across the room. After 45 minutes of throwing and finally mastering some moves I felt like I’d been to the gym. Who even needs a treadmill when you can just flare?

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If you’re looking for something really fun to do with the girls or are seriously interested in becoming a master of mixology I would definitely recommend. It’s fun, you get to play with all sorts of alcohol, stand behind a real bar and feel like Tom Cruise, see flaring being done by a master and the staff also provided us with a few insanely good cocktails and a recipe list to take home and fail hard at everything they tried to teach us. If you do go ask for the cocktail that tastes like fizzy cola bottle sweets- I don’t know what it was but it was a dream come true.

The London school is a short walk from Bermondsey station, but they’re in 24 cities world wide including Vegas. So yeah. GO GO GO GO GO.

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5 Delicious reasons to get yourself to Fulham this weekend

I’ve lived in Fulham for two and a half years now. It feels like the longest time ever but also like it’s absolutely flown. One thing I’ve done an awful lot of in my little corner of town, is eat. Fulham might not be an obvious choice for a Sunday stroll or somewhere to spend a lazy Saturday, but it should be. It actually has a fair amount to offer, especially in the eating category.

1) Moosh 17 Jerdan Place, Fulham

Brunch is basically my favourite thing. It’s eating, it’s not too early, it usually involves breakfast food (the best of all food) and you can have it with alcohol if you fancy. What’s not to love? This place embodies all my favourite things. Good coffee, delicious smoothies, fresh juices, amazing bread and pancakes. If you’re a bit of a health freak and like your brunching to involve some of your 5 a day and a hit of protein, Moosh have you covered. The banana and rasperry pancakes with natural yogurt make me so happy I could explode. They also do amazing superfood granola topped with a heap of fresh fruit. They ALSO do waffles with fro-yo and blueberries if you’re feeling fancy. All of the brunch stars.

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2) Chairs and Coffee 512 fulham road 

This is one for anyone who loves and respects coffee. These guys know how to put together a cup of caffeine. The best coffee I’ve ever had, easily. The service in here is also amazing, the staff are super friendly and the owner will tell you all you could ever need to know about the coffee bean, should you ask. They also do Aperol Spritz if you fancy a hair of the dog type affair. You can get banana bread to die for and some seriously delicious granola. If you want something to fill you up, they do amazing smashed avocado on toast and goats cheese paninis. I think I could probably move in and live here. On the cake table.

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3) Hally’s 60 New Kings Road

You’ll struggle to find a more chic lunch spot than this place. It’s like a pinterest dream come true. The cafe calls itself a ‘Californian style hang-out’ and it doesn’t disappoint. it’s so bright and breezy AND you can bring in dogs. It’s pretty much ideal in every way. The food is yum, the coffee is good and the decor is divine. Perfect girly catch up spot for Made in Chelsea cast spotting, if that’s what you’re into.

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4) The Harwood arms Walham Grove

This is currently the only Michelin starred pub in London, so you would go in expecting something quite special, and special it definitely is. The food, service, decor, drinks menu and quiet location make up a perfect up-market dining experience. They also do Sunday lunch and are famed for their scotch eggs. Easily one of the best meals out I’ve ever had and considering the quality it’s fairly reasonable. They also give you the most insanely delicious warm bread to tuck into while you choose your food. Free carbs.

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5) Del Aziz 

Moroccan inspired restaurant/bar/shisha cafe. Amazingly good burgers cooked however you want them, enormous slabs of cake, giant meringues and ALL of the cocktails. Go for happy hour, get some mojitos and try some red velvet cake. They do breakfast as well which includes Moroccan pancakes which I vouch for as being divine and covered in honey.

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If you get tired of eating (who are you?) you can wonder along Kings Road, take a walk to South park, stroll through Parson’s Green and just generally admire how the super rich live in this corner of West London. Oh and if you’re weird enough like me to be into really pretty front doors, Fulham has that covered.

5 reasons I can’t handle ‘going out out’ anymore

 So I’m writing this in the wake of a terrible night out in London while my friend writes a lengthy, formal complaint email, which is a definite sign we are firmly not teens/students/care free youths any more. I don’t think 25 is too old to be going out out, but I feel like it’s becoming more and more evident that clubs need to become a thing of my past. I’m not sure if it’s because I just can’t hack it, my tolerance of other people has become dangerously low in my mid-twenties or if this is just a normal transition. Probably a mixture of the three. Don’t get me wrong though, with the right company, the correct amount of gin and music from the early noughties, I’m as game as anyone.

I just feel lately like a good bar with comfortable chairs, or staying at home with an abundance of wine is my preferable socialising option. An abundance of wine and a nine course meal, to be exact. Anyway, these are my main reasons for wanting to steer clear of clubs and going out out for a while, maybe forever. (never gonna happen though, I’m not THAT boring.)

1) I tolerate drunk people less and less every day.

I used to find it hilarious to watch friends or strangers fall all over the place blind drunk, generally making massive dicks of themselves, but now, I just want them all to get in the sea. I mean it’s totally different if you’re drunk too, because then you are part of the fun and games, but being an observer of such behaviour now just makes me angry. It makes me tired. And it probably makes me hungry if I’m being totally honest.

2) Horrendous door staff.

This has been a theme of my life lately. Encountering bouncers who think they are actually working on an FBI mission rather than a club entrance make me want to sit down and start debating, rather than just pretend to be sober and let them act like a supreme power. This is also due to another kind of lack of tolerance- tolerance for utter dickheads. Security is important, but there’s no need to be an absolute twat about it.

3) I don’t like plans.

So this isn’t specifically about going out out at all, but being an adult is bloody tiring isn’t it!? I much prefer weekends when I don’t have set plans, and things just happen. I also much prefer impromptu nights outs rather than planned, regimented events because the older I get, the worse they always are. Sleep is bae.

4) When I see my friends, I like to be able to hear them

Since working gets in the way of most days and selfishly takes up a lot of time in general, seeing friends is hard. It’s even harder when you factor in responsibilities and adult things people need to find the time to do, along with relationships and families. When I do get the time to see my friends, I now prefer to be able to sit and talk to them and actually catch up, rather than necking tequila and shouting over dance music or squeezing in a quick selfie in a toilet cubicle.

5) Hangovers are HORRIFIC

Life is busy, there’s a lot to do. It’s a bit depressing really, but wasting a whole day laying in bed feeling poisoned and wishing McDonalds was on your lap is just a massive nuisance. They’re also getting worse. So much worse. A few glasses of wine can leave me feeling like someone is putting shelves up inside my skull. I wrote about not being able to hack a hangover a while ago, and since then it’s gotten even more true. Prophylactic paracetamol doesn’t even work these days. HELP ME I AM OLD.

18 Instant mood lifters

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1) Pizza Express email you to let you know there’s 25% off. Perfect, because all you really want in life is a pizza and their divine salad dressing.

2) Going past really pretty scenery as the sun is going down and a good song like Craig David- Fill me in (yep) comes on your ipod.

3) Being able to fill the chip in your nail varnish without it looking all gloopy and layered.

4) Getting to the till and something scanning waaaaay cheaper than the label says. Resounding HOORAY.

5) Making your squash perfect, like actually the best squash ever. Bonus points if it’s Ribena.

6) Someone holding a door for you. That does not happen enough anymore.

7) Waking up, realising it’s mother fucking Saturday, going back to sleep immediately.

8) Being bought a coffee at work. Not a crappy kitchen instant coffee, a nice, coffee shop coffee with caramel and frothy milk and internal happiness.

9) Walking onto the train platform as the train pulls in.

10) Remembering you HAVE shaved your legs and you CAN wear a dress without tights under the glorious blue sky and channel Beyonce all day long at work.

11) Someone else suggesting Mcdonald’s on a brutal hangover, making the whole sordid affair slightly more acceptable.

12) Sorting many belongings into a new handbag and feeling like an organised goddess for a short period of time (until you get to the station and can’t find your Oyster card, keys or phone)

13) Channel 4 showing a film you love on a Sunday night.

14) Being ravenous to the point inanimate objects start to look tasty, looking in your bag and finding a snack. Satsuma. Cereal bar. Crisps. YES.

15) Making a start on a cup of tea at optimum drinking temperature.

16) Finding matching underwear in the morning. A rare and luxurious event that makes you feel like a supermodel.

17) Someone whipping out a lunchbox of homemade brownies in the office during that lull between breakfast and lunch.

18) Being invited to an event on payday. Cocktail list, please, one has some dollar bills to spend.

5 different things to do in London with the girls

So London might have a bit of everything but it can get samey. If you want to try something new in the coming summer months with your gal pals, then I recommend all of these. Indoor, outdoor, shopping, drinking and dress up. GO GO GO.

1) The London Blitz Party

I’ve done this twice and it is SO much fun. War themed, with lots of retro props and always in a cool venue, it’s definitely not your average night out, as you have to dress up in 40s clothes and the music in the venue is live 40s stuff- think swing. The drinks are all based around the theme too, and I strongly recommend going just for the Raspberry Collins cocktails. If you love going all in on the hair and make up then this is seriously worth a try. You can get tickets here and they happen once a month or so.

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2) Judy’s Vintage Fair

If you love a bargain, love vintage, love trawling charity shops and markets and enjoy dressing in clothes from various decades, get yourself to one of these. The vintage kilo sales are amazing. You get a massive basket when you go in and then you pay by the weight of it- genius. Last time I went I came away with 5 things for £15, and you can’t grumble at that. Get there early though, as a queue forms outside and you want to grab the sexiest tie-dye dresses and old man jumpers, don’t you? If you get in when the doors open, you can get out early enough for brunch after to compare purchases. Perfection.  These happen around London and you can check out events here, but the Bethnal Green event in York Hall is my favourite.

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3) XOYO

If you want to do something a bit more on the wild side and are in the mood to go out out all night long, look up events held by XOYO Loves. They usually put on really good DJs in cool as you like venues and you can rely on them to drop glitter or giant balloons on the crowd just to make you all EVEN more excited. The XOYO club in Shoreditch is always a good bet if you want to go on a trendy bar crawl pre-flashing lights and shape throwing (and there’s a place next door to get chips). Get your most comfy shoes, your mates, do some stretches and be prepared to dance.

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4) Bring Your Own Cocktail

perfect for birthday celebrations or just a catch up with the girls accompanied by some seriously delicious drinks. The general idea is you bring the booze, the mixologist makes the cocktail. You can take anything you like along, and if there’s a big enough group you can mix it up nicely, then you hand it over to the skilled staff and they add the extras. More fun and a novel change than just going out for cocktails.

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5) Crazy Golf

Yep. GOLF. Crazy golf has never been on my radar until the last year, but now there are places popping up all the over place in London, particularly the south. It’s fun, it’s something different, and you can have a great time laughing at the person in your group who is generally just HORRENDOUS at the game. For something themed and slightly whacky, try the Jurassic Encounter golf course in New Malden. You can get a nice ice cream or go for a coffee after, or just swing into Kingston and sit by the river.

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Hangovers in your twenties: Part 3

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So today is apparently the most hungover day of the year. Judging by the people who I shared my late night tube journey with last night, I can definitely see why. I witnessed a man fail to get off at the right stop due to the inability to walk; awkward as his wife made it off and watched him speed away looking less than impressed. He didn’t even make it off at the next stop. In fact, he’s probably still on the District line wondering where exactly Upminster is and how he got there.

This hangover falls under the categories or festive and unjust.

Event: Pre-Christmas catch up with a friend

Venue: Rabieng Thai restaurant in Angel and La Farola cocktail cafe 

Run down: This was one of those occasions when you haven’t seen a very good friend in a while and you have SO MUCH to say that within an hour you’ve burned through at least 37 topics and discussed everyone you know at length, but you still need another sold four hours to feel fully caught up. This is usually one of those times I find you can drink a vile amount and find yourself wondering if you have a problem the next day, but while you’re there you are oblivious to the 234533 units you’ve put away by 8pm.

Thankfully, given work today and my limited time to get my stomach pumped, 234533 units did not pass my lips. We shared a bottle of red wine with dinner and I definitely had less than half. Just one bottle. Between two. Reasonable. Totally adult. Very responsible.

Food: Rabieng is easily the nicest Thai meal I have had outside of Thailand and I recommend it highly. The peanut sauce is basically a dream come true in your mouth and the curry is absolutely divine. Green is usually my curry of choice, but we got red and green, to be extra- adventurous and red won hands down. It was so delicious I think I could marry and have children with it. If you are a fan of Thai you have to do yourself a giant life favour and go here. 10/10 on food. They also accept gourmet society cards if you phone ahead and book a table. The whole thing left me massively yearning for this:

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Cocktails: La Farola was a place we just happened to fall into because they had a cosy little table by the window empty and there were lots of pretty fairy lights. The sign outside promised cocktails and cocktails they deliver. This was a good night for ‘best ever’ experiences, because it was the best porn star martini I have ever tasted. Shots of prosecco should be more common. Continuing the theme of responsible adults, we had one each. ONE.

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The hangover: Unjust. Unfair. Ridiculous. Inexplicable. I have felt sick since the moment I stepped out of bed. The sort of nagging, acidic ‘Oh you had a drink last night didn’t you’ sick reminder that your body gives you. The amount of food I ate, and the fact I had water before bed and first thing in the morning really shouldn’t have warranted this nauseous delight of a day. I have had this amount of alcohol and much less food on many occasions and felt like a goddess the next day. Hangovers are officially a mystery. They can’t be tamed.

Score: 6/10, mostly because it just isn’t fair

Hangovers in your twenties: Part 1

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So apparently hangovers get worse as you get older. My colleague recently told me that I have nothing to complain about now, and that 28 is when things start getting really bad. If this is true, then I have four good years left. According to the Huffington Post she could be right.

At uni I used to regularly be able to go out three times a week and feel absolutely fine. I remember a few, quite spectacular hangovers, but they were fairly quick and could be ended by a trip to somewhere really unhealthy and a bottle of orange Lucozade. These days, this seems less like the case.

So this is part one of my hangover diary between now and Christmas. Since the festive period brings quite a lot of festive drinking, this seemed like the perfect time to work out if my hangovers really are getting worse.

Event: Friend’s 25th birthday

Venue: Adventure Bar, Clapham, London

Night plan: Pre-drinks at home, Adventure Bar from 9, then whatever happens when it shuts at 2.

Run down:

Biblical rain saw five of my friends arrive at my flat in varying states of damp and pissed off. One wonderful  friend arrived with a very special treat: Russian Standard vodka infused with Drumstick lollies and Squashies. Needless to say, this was sensational. The best confectionary vodka I have tasted to date and much nicer than the classic and over-done skittles. One shot of this, two vodka oranges and one vodka lemonade.

Check out the_hallissey on Instagram

Check out the_hallissey on Instagram

After a disastrous cab journey in which the cab driver called me babe at least 37 times and then refused to cut the price despite being late and sending the wrong cars, Adventure Bar happened. One cocktail, one tequila, two weird beers and apparently some sort of whiskey. I have drunk more, I have drunk less. But that’s a fair amount of mixing. Not sensible.

Food: 3am Dominos, A Mexican baguette the day after, more pizza, three satsumas and litres of orange squash.

The hangover: Awful. Lots of regret. It’s been a while and it may be a while again after this one. Woke up still quite drunk with a friend on a blow up bed next to me, phoned my housemate who was downstairs, tried to hum the Coronation Street theme tune at each other before she came up with another friend who didn’t make It home. We proceeded to lay for about four hours, watched endless You’ve Been Framed, napped, laughed at nothing and generally felt vile. I think I said I was never drinking again at least four times. Also still struggling to deal with how much You’ve Been Framed we watched in one day.

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Duration: 2 days. Monday wasn’t fun. I ate everything. The second day was also very tired and very grumpy.

Score: 8/10