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Valentine's Day in London

Jane Ryan | 04/02/2016

Four nights out by four different women. No sap, no rings in Champagne, just ribs, Martinis and laughs.

Valentine's Day for the foodies


Start at Blind Pig for an aperitif. It's cosy, intimate and rocks a New York loft vibe. Order one of the food jars - of which there can be no higher accolade than Jay Rayner's sentence "it's a glorious thing, it's the sort of stuff you get on your knuckles as you dig in unselfconsciously, so that you leave oily stains across the paper menu" - and sip a hilariously-named but outstandingly delicious cocktail. Take a walk (tip: make it romantic by holding hands) to Covent Garden and Hawksmoor Seven Dials and start with the bar snack feast of melt-in-the-mouth ribs and lobster in garlic and lemon butter. Accompany with wine or cocktails - nothing says I love you like a tankard of Shaky Pete's Ginger Brew - and dig in. Finally wind the night up by the river inside The Savoy where you can nestle into a dark, gilded corner of the Beaufort Bar and drink Martinis or Champagne. Who needs dessert when the gin is this cold?

- Based on Siobhan Payne's (foodie, late-twenties) ideal night out. 

Valentine's Day for the young (at heart)


Start with a beautiful cocktail at The Gibson, where it's as much in the garnish as the drink. Don't forget that parmesan on the side. Take a quick walk towards Worship Street Whistling Shop where the dark corners are laced with Victorian-esque drinks. If you're hankering for something pink, order the 1691, a sour and complex twist on a classic 1862 combining goat cheese-infused Ketel One Vodka, Grand Marnier reduction and spiced raspberry vinegar, or try the Bullfighter made with Don Julio Blanco, Cocchi Americano, peppercorn distilled Cherry Heering and clarified ACE juice. With a comfortable buzz under your belt it's time to be merry. Launch yourself in the direction of Callooh Callay for games of hide and seek behind the wardrobe, amazing sours from the team and general debauchery. Still up for more? Of course you're only 21 (at heart...) so it's straight to Loves Company for some basement party vibes. Picklebacks never tasted so good - maybe call in sick tomorrow.

- Based on Tina Bozorgi's (who actually is 21) ideal night out. 

Valentine's Day for wine and whisky lovers


Treck it over to Sager + Wilde on Hackney Road for an intimate and rather sophisticated start to your Valentine's. We're talking stunning Champagnes, rieslings and pinot noirs by the glass, cheese boards and toasties. You could stay here all night but Shoreditch is calling so it's into the cab and off to Clove Club. No time for the nine course tasting menu, instead we're at the bar for drinks and delicious snacks. Cocktails are always excellent here but so too is the wine, so pick your poison and don't forget to take a huge sniff of the larder on the way out - aged meats and cheeses galore. Wander round the corner to finish the night at Blues Kitchen for whisky cocktails and live music. There's bourbon by the cask-full here but plenty of Scotch and Irish options as well. Better keep an eye on the time - this place parties on till late. 

- Based on Emma Murphy's (wino, early 30s) ideal night out. 

Valentine's Day for the grazers 


Polpetto's long, low-lit space is definitely more restaurant than bar, yet the short Italian wine list stands respected in its own right, from fresh, light styles all the way through to the rich and bold. Settled at the bar, sip on a glass of wine, or better yet, the lesser known Italian fizz Franciacorta and order a starter such as Camone winter tomatoes from Sardinia dressed in oil. Then it's onto Barrafina on Frith Street. Once you’re in the door and finally seated order some Spanish wine, cava or sherry and marvel as each dish serves up charcuterie, warm meats, seafood and fresh greens. Vibrant and bursting with flavour the plates make for a formidable Spanish feast. Last stop, it's onto Bar Termini. Opt for the Marsala Martini made with gin, Marsala Dolce, dry vermouth and almond bitters or work through the three Negroni options created by co-owner and cocktail legend Tony Conigliaro, from pink peppercorn to classic or rose petal-infused.

- Based on Jane Ryan's (will drink anything, mid-20s) ideal night out. 


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