It’s late June, and a gathering of 10,000 people for a Stonehenge sunrise making the news can only mean one thing: summer must have started. Who knows what the British summer has in store this year – I had a shorts on with a v-neck on standby yesterday – but there’s one thing that matters at this time of year; it’s Pimms o’clock from now until September. Well, gin o’clock. Better yet, Sipsmith o’clock.
And if you’re confined to central London, wanting for open spaces and a draft of muggy air with which to enjoy your summer tipple, there’s one place that has Sipsmith all over it: the Sipsmith Sipping Garden at Le Meridien Piccadilly.
It is neither a garden nor might you be inclined to sip (though you should, as the name suggests, because it’s quality stuff) but the hotel’s Terrace Grill & Bar, complete with glass atrium in case the heavens open, has been commandeered by the artisanal distillers into somewhere suitably seasonal with which to enjoy a range of new summery cocktails.
The theme of British summer garden parties may be tenuous – a token wooden bench and a smattering of terracotta pot plants – but we’re not in Piccadilly imagining we’re taking tea at the palace, we’re here to enjoy what has become, arguably, the world’s leading London dry gin in a manner adulterated only by the makers themselves.
The sloe gin berry British Bellini with Chapel Down sparkling wine makes for a fine opener or, sticking with the sloes, if you’re after something more complex and daring there’s the 3-Ways Negroni (parts two and three being their potent VJOP – the J standing for a loud and angry Juniper – and sloe gin). It’s not simply gin on offer either; the Dainty Damsel features damson vodka and Chapel Down. Completing the summery flavour, the hotel’s Chef de Cuisine has created a range of picnic bites with which to stave off hunger, including juniper and mustard sausage rolls and Devon crab cakes.
And did I say Pimms earlier? Put it away. We’re all about the Summer Cup, Sipsmith’s own version of a classic summer punch; rich orange and cucumber notes, as you’d expect, with hints of cherry and iced tea, freshened with lemonade and an orchard of fruit. Hurrah for the solstice, let the summer begin!
The Sipsmith Sipping Garden is open now, seven days a week from 12 noon to 10:30pm, until September. For more information and to book a table call +44 (0) 207 851 3085 or visit www.lemeridienpiccadilly.co.uk.