Disclaimer: we’re the first to sigh about every single brand and business conceivable trying to cash in on Valentine’s Day. In terms of commercialism and silly promotional tactics, VD is right up there with Christmas. But somehow, a month-long Valentine’s collaboration featuring cocktails and handbags – well, that’s something we can definitely get on board with! One of our favourite British accessories designers – Lulu Guinness – has teamed up with the Royal Exchange’s Grand Café and Threadneedle Bar on a selection of rather lovely cocktails. Think of this as a Valentine’s gift to yourself.
Available until March 10th, a special menu featuring three love-themed cocktails and a pretty-as-a-picture dessert is on offer at London’s Royal Exchange, devised by the venue’s expert mixologist and executive head chef. The Dark Kiss Fizz, Strawberry Lipstick and Whisky On The Lips have all been inspired by Lulu’s iconic lips motif – which is present throughout her collection of handbags and accessories.
With fresh strawberries and lemon, the Strawberry Lipstick is a sweet, refreshing delight of a cocktail – think of it as a charming, coquettish opening to proceedings, although rum adds a naughtily unexpected flavour. The Dark Kiss Fizz moves away from the traditional sparkling cocktail with plum sake and Chambord, plus a little lemon liqueur and chocolate bitters – it’s a smoulderingly passionate rendez-vous you’d definitely wear heels for. And finally the Whisky On The Lips? It’s a long, lingering glance of a cocktail – with cherry syrup, lemon and chocolate bitters, it’s sweet but strong – and our favourite of the trio. They’re all finished with lips-shaped garnishes too – we like!
The Royal Exchange’s concise bar snacks menu offers everything from simple dips and antipasti sharing boards to sliders and crispy squid if you’d like something to nibble alongside the cocktails. The bar’s regular cocktail menu is a delight in itself – once you’ve tested the Lulu Guinness creations – we’d recommend the Chimitsu (vodka, sake, coriander bitters, lychée puree, grapefruit and shiso) or the stronger-than-a-builders-cuppa London Tea Cup (sloe gin, green tea, apple juice, cloves and cinnamon). The cocktails have been inspired by the Royal Exchange’s heritage as London’s centre for trading exotic fruits, spices and herbs from around the globe.
Complete your romantic assignation at the Royal Exchange with the Stripes & Lips dessert – an oh-so-Instagrammable combination of fresh raspberry sorbet and rich white chocolate and black sesame mousses, finished with lavender and an orange compote. The flavours actually marry beautifully with the special Valentine’s cocktails too. Oh, and if you’re making time to call into the Lulu Guinness boutique while visiting, we’d definitely advise doing this before trying the cocktails – or who knows what you might have to treat yourself to! Take your friends, take your lover or just take your credit card…
The Lulu Guinness cocktails are priced at £11 each and are available throughout The Royal Exchange, in the Grand Café, Threadneedle Bar, Gallery, and Sauterelle restaurant. For more information and to book, see the The Royal Exchange’s website.