Whether your drink of choice is a pint of British ale, an icy gin and tonic or a refreshing Pimm’s cup cocktail, London’s version of happy hour is very happy indeed. Recreating a British happy hour experience at home couldn’t be easier, especially because there are no hard rules around it—it’s all about personal preferences. Like other apéro/aperitivo rituals around the world, drinks and nibbles are involved. Let’s start with the drinks.
Drinks for a British Happy Hour at Home
Londoners love to hit the pub after work with colleagues and friends before heading home for dinner or dining out. Drinks at the pub range from small-batch craft beer sourced from all over the UK; basic cocktails; and wine. To create your own London happy hour at home, we recommend starting with an imported ale. There are fantastic bottled beers including British-style “real ales” available throughout much of the world, and there’s even British cider like Strongbow available globally.
If beer or cider isn’t your style, you could always try a nice London dry gin and whip up a G & T, or if you’re into bubbly, try a bottle of the highly rated Nyetimber sparkling wine, from a winery based in Sussex, or Gusbourne Estate sparkling wine, which is a boutique English winery based in Kent.
Summer is lovely in London, and during the warmer months, the tipple of choice for many happy hour fans is Pimm’s cup, a sweet cocktail made with Pimm’s liquor, fizzy lemonade and fresh garnishes. According to the official Pimm’s website, the traditional recipe is as follows: Fill a highball glass with ice; add 1.7 oz Pimm’s No.1 and 5 oz lemonade; then add slices of fresh strawberry, orange, cucumber and a sprig of mint. As well as available by the glass, Pimm’s is also often ordered by the pitcher, so get in the British summertime spirit by making a big batch of this cocktail to share (just multiply the above recipe by four).
Many English pubs and bars have their own versions of the Pimm’s cup cocktail because it’s an easily tweaked recipe. Philippe, co-founder of London Perfect, suggests his father’s recipe, which gives the Pimm’s cup cocktail a leveled-up, chic twist with the addition of champagne. For each serving mix the following in a tall glass:
25% Pimm’s No 1
1 slice of orange, pressed with a spoon while in the glass
3 ice cubes
Nibbles for a British Happy Hour
While you’re enjoying a Pimm’s cup cocktail, British beer or glass of English sparkling wine, satisfy your food cravings with some pub snacks. Traditional pub snacks include pork pies, sausage rolls, scotch eggs, pork rinds and—of course—crisps (potato chips) in flavors like cheese and onion or grilled steak. If you’re at a loss at where to source these bites, you can always go for a cheese board of world-renowned British cheeses. Pair a nice vintage cheddar with a creamy wensleydale, crumbly red Leicester and strong British stilton. Serve your cheese plate with oat crackers, seasonal fruit, honey and unsalted nuts.
Many British pubs have outdoor seating areas, so enjoy your own British happy hour outdoors while the weather is still pleasant. You can get some inspiration from these gorgeous outdoor spaces in our London Perfect apartments. Lastly, don’t forget to think about a good playlist when you’re planning your happy hour. After all, London is known as a very musical city. Get in the London spirit with some irresistible ‘90s Brit pop or keep it classy with some classical tunes. Cheers!
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