1 Cheers to the end of the year! - The Battered Black Book

Cheers to the end of the year!

Some of us had grand plans to get away this Winter, perhaps letting go of stress whilst sailing in the Bahamas, or snuggling up with someone we don’t see enough of in a chalet in Aspen. Honeymoons weren’t taken, holidays of a lifetime have been postponed and our wanderlust has had no choice but to be packed up and set aside until the world is a safer place… 2020 really has a lot to answer for!

It would be all too easy to sit and feel miserable about the birthday that should have been spent in the Maldives, but was instead confined to a London flat, or the big family gathering to celebrate the milestone birthday of an ageing relative on a remote Greek island. But that doesn’t solve anything, and certainly doesn’t make us feel better.

So, rather than dwelling on regrets, we’re packing our bags mentally and heading off on a tour of some of the most beautiful, unusual or Instagram-able bars around the world. After all, ’tis the season to be merry…

We kick things off in good old New York City, at Dear Irving on Gramercy. This is a speakeasy unlike any other – it has 4 different rooms to showcase 4 different eras! Our favourite is definitely the F. Scott Fitzgerald room, with cascades of crystals raining around private areas, but the Marie Antoinette room is sumptuous and definitely has a little ‘ooh-la-la’! The menu regularly features seasonal additions and we’ve heard the Grove Groove is the one to go for (“Like Autumn sunshine served up- citrus paired with cardamom & rhubarb”). There is also another location on Hudson with its own set of fun…

F. Scott Fitzgerald room at Dear Irving on Gramercy NYC

To escape the city, we next head off to Cova D’en Xoroi in Menorca, a sunset bar with live music. Perched above a cave, around 100 feet above the Mediterranean Sea, this bar offers equally stunning views both day and night. The cave is named after the legend of a Turkish pirate called Xoroi, who is said to have sheltered in the cave to avoid capture, but on discovery, he jumped into the sea and was never seen again (after 2020 we quite know how he feels!) Thankfully the bar’s excellent DJs keep guests out of the water and dancing the night away instead.

Cova D’en Xoroi in Menorca

To get off the beaten track, we then headed to Wind & Water Cafe, about 1 hour outside Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Sitting in the middle of a lake, this stunning bar is made entirely from natural materials and was built without a single nail, using only traditional Vietnamese weaving techniques. It’s quite something! Even the furniture is bamboo, so sitting here you can really feel at one with nature. Just the antidote for a world of worry….

Wind & Water Cafe Vietnam

If you’re not content with being above the waterline, why not slip below at Subsix underground restaurant and bar at Niyama, Maldives. Hide away in the depths at this breathtaking clam-inspired bar, with swooping curves, soft anemone chairs and a ceiling covered in shells. At 6 meters below the shoreline, the only drink to really have whilst grandly enjoying the parrotfish, grouper, butterflyfish and others swimming past, is of course Dom Perignon. We’ll see you in a few hours….

Subsix underground restaurant and bar at Niyama Maldives

Continuing our theme of drinks whilst enjoying natural wonders, we head next to the award-winning Northern Lights bar at the Ion Adventure Hotel, less than 1 hour from Reykjavik. As the name suggests, this bar was designed explicitly for optimal viewing of the Northern Lights. Amid mountains and lava fields, the glass bar protrudes from the end of the hotel and often has local astronomers as visitors, sharing their knowledge of all things aurora borealis. Stargazing is so hopeful, do you find…?

Northern Lights bar at the Ion Adventure Hotel

Being underwater is one of our favourite things. And the good thing about doing it in a bar is that you dont even have to get wet (or worry about bikini bodies!) So next we head back under the surface to Under in Southern Norway – the world’s largest underwater restaurant and first in Europe. Recently awarded a Michelin star, the restaurant is as equally about the experience as the food. Like an art installation, the building itself, designed by award-winning architect firm Snøhetta, is reminiscent of a rock formation rising out of the sea. The structure is designed to fully integrate into the marine environment over time, as the roughness of the concrete shell functions like an artificial reef, welcoming limpets and kelp to inhabit it. Like a sunken periscope, the restaurant’s enormous window offers a view of the seabed and its life forms as it changes throughout the seasons and weather conditions. It is spectacular, and the drinks are too!  

Under Michelin star restaurant in Southern Norway

Heading back above sea level, we come to The Rock As the name suggests, the Rock Restaurant and Bar is perched on the top of a rock. Once a fisherman’s post in Zanzibar, this fantastic spot is what dreams are made of. You can get there using its dedicated boat service or wait for low tide and wade over – either way, a treat is in store. ‘“It’ll never happen”. “It is just not possible”, they said. And the rest is history.’ Lovingly run and decorated in a simple, unfussy local island style, the restaurant specialises in seafood. The Rock in unpretentious, breathtakingly beautiful and full of passion – just how we like it.

Rock Restaurant and Bar

Last but by no means least (we could carry on drinking but our blog might make less sense!) is Vertigo in Bangkok. This is hailed as the city’s ultimate rooftop experience, offering al fresco dining on a terrace overlooking the glittering cityscape of Bangkok.  Moon Bar is the ultimate hangout for cocktails, a staggering 61 floors above the city. Highly recommended is the signature Vertigo Sunset, don’t mind if we do!

Rock Restaurant and Bar

But alas, after our bar crawl around the globe it’s time to return back home (and pray for mercy on the hangover tomorrow!) But the glamour doesn’t all stop within our own part of the world. The fabulous Fin Spiteri from Spiteri & Co has kindly shared with us one of his signature seasonal cocktail receipes, to get us in the Christmas spirit at home. Care to join us?

Christmas in NYC
(So called as it’s a twist on a sweet Manhattan)

50ml Christmas Infused Whisky
25ml Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Pimento Bitters

You will need Christmas Pudding infused Whisky for this cocktail which you should make beforehand. Take 150g of mince pie filling and steep in a bottle of bourbon overnight, in the morning strain the mixture into a new bottle and store in the fridge. 

To make the drink combine 50ml of your Christmas bourbon in a chilled mixing glass with 25ml sweet vermouth (Punt e Mes works well with this recipe) and 2 dashes of pimento bitters (orange or angostura will do if you don’t feel like tracking down pimento bitters) 
Stir until well chilled and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a spritz of orange zest.

Christmas in NYC Cocktail