You know what I love more than cocktails? Cocktails with a view. So of course London’s Sky Garden at the top of the recognisable Walkie Talkie (20 Fenchurch) building has been higher on my bucket list than it is in the clouds.
The Sky Garden is contained within a large glass dome, with two bars surrounded by strips of lush green foliage and two restaurants floating above. Last week I booked in a visit to Sky Pod, their rooftop bar with the best views of the city, for a perfect date night away from it all.
Sky Pod Bar is open throughout the day serving smoothies, breakfast bites and cocktails for the early risers/still going from the night before-ers from 7am. In the evening the menu is condensed in size and swaps muffins and pastries for charcuterie boards and bar snacks.
At 7pm Allyn and I met at the back entrance of 20 Fenchurch, queuing through security before being whisked up to the 35th floor of the skyscraper. Upon arrival we were warmly greeted and taken to our window table, our stools directly aligned with the tip of the Shard.
The city was lit up for miles upon miles in the darkness around us as we poured over the cocktail menu. It almost felt like a breathe of fresh air to be away from the beeping traffic and shoving of busy commuters without even having to leave the city. Talking of air, I was surprised at how chilly the entire space was, but through no fault but my own as I later learnt that the garden is naturally-ventilated and so you are recommended to dress appropriately during the winter months.
With my thick cardi wrapped tightly and cuddled up to my date, we each chose our first drinks for the evening.
I decided upon the Maya Kick, a Cointreau and Zacapa 23 year aged rum combination with fig liqueur, lime juice and fresh fig. The ingredient list also included almond syrup but aware that it might give off a marzipan taste, our host kindly suggested to advised that they could reduce the amount poured in.
It was lovingly fresh and perfectly syrupy, satisfying my slight sweet tooth without overwhelming it. I was also a fan of the simple yet thought about garnish of dehydrated fig and a cinnamon stick (we all love a bit of dehydrated fruit am I right?).
As opposites attract, Allyn and his love for fruity sweetness ordered the Pink Is The Question in his manliest voice. A traditional glass presented an undeniably feminine mix of Ketal One Vodka infused with fresh blueberries, green apple liqueur and lime, turned pink by dissolved candy floss. Donned with a rose made from petals and raspberries of course.
It was an unashamed extrovert, proudly sweet and undeniably irresistible subtly dressed in a flirtatious garnishing. Allyn of course enjoyed every drop.
Almost too easily sipping away and chatting over our day was complimented by a bowl of spicy Malaysian cashew nuts. They were more smokey than spiced yet nevertheless addictive and a perfect accompaniment.
For our next round of cocktails, Allyn carried on satisfying his love for berries and fresh flavours by ordering the Amore. A glass of Prosecco and Sloe gin was turned red by fresh raspberries and mint, topped with cassis liqueur, lemon juice and a generous dash of balsamic vinegar, a key ingredient that we were warned would be a dominant taste.
The bubbles mixed with the vinegar flavoured berry and mint combination reminded us of a fizzy raspberry wine, a compliment to say the least. It was refreshing, less sweet than its predecessor and was a subtle reminder of a season gone by.
My last drink called my name through its herbal summer ingredients. The Botanic was the most complimentary of its garden setting, a mix of Tanqueray & Gin Mare with fresh basil and lemon. Pegged to the glass came a small cone of pine nuts, fresh rosemary and sundried tomato, which I was told should be nibbled just before my first sip.
It was like a gin-infused picnic, an Italian amuse bouche served with the flavours of a British garden. Everything about it summed up what I love about cocktails. Subtle creativity, trialled and perfected flavour combinations, a spark of something original.
It was my favourite drink of the evening and one that I was unashamedly upset to finish.
Merry in our step we walked up the stairs around the parameter of the rooftop, spotting new city sights with every turn from ice skaters at the Tower of London to an influx of trains at Liverpool Street station.
As we reached the opposing end of the floor we tried our hardest to spot our East London apartment block, agreeing to come back in the daytime to get a good look at the city before darkness falls.
If you fancy a visit to Sky Pod or any of Sky Garden’s restaurants and bars, try to book ahead for a table as walk-ins are only available after 9pm on an evening. Should you wish to just visit the garden itself, entry is free but is still ticketed, yet you can bring your own wine for a £30 corkage fee.
Our cocktails at Sky Pod were complimentary but as always all views (despite my love for sundried tomatoes) are my own.