On a cold and rainy London evening, The London Journalist visited the Churchill Winter Terrace at the Hyatt Regency Hotel for some much needed war-time enliveners and some of the best oysters in town...
Leading off from The Churchill Bar, a permanent award-winning fixture at the Hyatt Regency hotel, is this years Sir Winston Churchill inspired outdoor terrace.
The overall effect and decor of the terrace is truly magical. Once you step through the automatic doors from the very swanky indoor Churchill Bar to the newly opened outdoor terrace, be prepared to feel as you have, through some sort Goodnight Sweetheart-style time-portal, miraculously materialised in war-time London.
This uncanny illusion lasts, of course, until your guest arrives and tactlessly points out the fake brick-work and Hogwart's Express poster. - Although I'm pretty sure Churchill was a straw-hat wearing Harrovian, the lovely twinkling lights, authentic iron lanterns and old-fashioned lampposts gave wings to the illusion. The terrace provides the ideal setting for business, pleasure and even romance, and is very much a triumph for the Hyatt Regency, even if some aspects seemed a little misappropriated.
Whilst I was under the impression that Winston and I shared a deep dark secret love for a certain Special Brew - a delicacy to some, a contaminate to others - we headed straight to the award-winning classic cocktails list that did not disappoint!
Our favourite was undeniably a tipple entitled 'The Darkest Hour', which celebrates Churchill’s golden years as Prime Minister as he rallied the country during the lead up to the war. A strong but subtly sweet concoction, this drink combines Johnnie Walker whisky (a favourite of Winston's) with Carpano Antica Formula and Old Engine Oil Porter Beer Syrup before finishing off with a couple of drops of bespoke Churchill War Room Bitters... Embellished by a fluttering gold-leaf enveloped chocolate, this went down a utter treat and is smooth and spirited enough to make you feel blotto on first sip!
Another favourite was entitled 'Victory', a mix of Churchill's favourite Hine Cigar Cognac with Rhubarb Amaro, balanced with a Nyetember reduction infused with kaffir lime leaves. With more added drops of the old War Room bitters, this drink, which pleasingly comes served with a healthy rock of ice clear enough to read the smallest newspaper print through, was a definitely strong contender for top tot.
The 'Colonel's Encounter', a Havana rum and Guava juice twist on the mojito classic, was a little sweet and typical for my liking, despite the unusual inclusion of banana and spiced chilli syrup which I couldn't all together detect. Perhaps my delicate palate was compromised by a sinful sip of my guest's 'Darkest Hour'. My thoughts are that this drink would be perfect for those with weaker resistance, who are perhaps looking for the 'girly' drink on the menu. I'm also not sure I get joke about 'The Journalist' cocktail, served with a puff-piece of blue cotton candy but ah well..!
After all these strong drinks our stomachs were perfectly primed for a plate of, no exaggeration, some of the most fantastically fresh and delectable oysters you can obtain in London. Highly recommended. Also the mini Laphroaig Whisky Churchill Burgers were absolutely delicious. Much praise to chef Mark Sainsbury and his team for coming up with an amazing Winter menu of fun but gourmet Churchill inspired grub.
Do not leave without finishing off the meal in true Churchill-style with a luxury Cuban cigar, they have an extraordinarily large low-to-high menu of the things.
All in all, with some of the best food and drink in town, great company and a mountain of sheepskins, heaters and good old-fashioned English hot water bottles to keep the weather from dampening our spirits, my guest and I were utterly transported by the experience.
The Churchill Winter Terrace creates the perfect atmosphere to leave your iPhone behind and immerse yourself in simpler, perhaps more authentic times gone by. Special mention goes to the wonderful waiters whose level of decorum also helped to set the tone for a very British evening of pure nostalgia and delight.
HYATT REGENCY LONDON - THE CHURCHILL
30 Portman Square
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7486 5800