Summer Cocktails at 51 Buckingham Gate
London has a lot of cocktails bars, and London has a lot of outdoor space; but London does not have a lot of outdoor space where you can drink cocktails! Presumably due to it’s somewhat unreliable climate, most of the owners of London’s many excellent cocktail bars choose to locate their establishments in places with nice solid roofs. Indeed many are evidently so concerned about the potential for inclement weather, they prefer their bar to be located in a basement! Not so at 51 Buckingham Gate, this 5 star hotel and ‘residences’ boasts a really rather delightful outdoor space that is perfect for a bit of summer cocktail sipping.
The courtyard at 51 Buckingham Gate is one of those surprise spaces in London that seems to spring from nowhere and makes you wonder why you haven’t heard about it before. Surrounded on all sides by the opulent buildings of the hotel and residences, it’s a social space that enjoys both the luxury of a hotel bar, and the informality of a posh pub beer garden. A terracotta freeze winds its way around the buildings, depicting Shakespearian plays whilst a fountain supposedly donated by Queen Victoria sits surrounded by beautiful flowering raised beds. A visit here provides a much-needed respite from the hustle and bustle of the city, and you can’t help but wish you had known about this place last summer when your were sat in a crowded beer garden slowly overheating and drinking less than ice-cold beer (or perhaps that was just me!)
This summer, the courtyard will play host to a season of live music featuring opera and west-end songs. They also offer a barbecue menu of Turkish and Moroccan influenced dishes that do sound more than a little tasty. Of course my focus is the cocktails, and when I heard that the bar is featuring a special menu of Tanqueray cocktails this year, I was itching to pop along to try them. Now this is not a cocktail menu to introduce you to new and innovative techniques, nor will it challenge the palate for anyone who drinks more than the occasional cosmo, but that’s not the point. The list features refreshing and uncomplicated cocktails such as the signature ‘The 51’ which Tanqueray No. 10 with fresh grapefruit and St Germain elderflower liqueur; a light and refreshing libation that I could happily sip on whilst enjoying a bit of live music on a balmy Summer evening. Prices are lower than the typical 5* hotel bar (circa £12) but still come with efficient table service and some tasty nibbles. Worthy also of a mention is the fact that a dedicated Shisha tender is available to help you choose between a number of (surprisingly enjoyable) ‘flavours’ to smoke using a traditional Shisha.