The glorious 12th has come and gone. The pub garden is back. The sun has got his hat on. The picnic table has never looked so poetic. It’s haircuts at dawn and continental lager for breakfast; the sway of the parasol and a sign of things to come. After a year or so that we’d all rather forget, it feels like this could well be a summer to remember: a British season for the ages. And everyone’s invited.
There’s still work to be done, of course. ‘Data not dates’ to follow. Hurdles to jump. Jabs to jab. But the light at the end of the tunnel is so warm you could almost sunbathe in it.
So we thought we’d put together our own little roadmap for the months ahead. But don’t just take our word for it. In this new spirit of sociability and conviviality, Gentleman’s Journal has asked a motley cast of friends, contributors and interviewees what they’re most looking forward to this summer — the pubs, places, people and pipe-dreams they’re most excited about re-visiting. It is an index of indulgence; a barometer of beer. We hope it makes for happy reading.
Let’s start with the important stuff. Our cup overflows in this department. (You could practically see the joyful, hopeful tears in the smudged ink of our correspondents’ responses.) Our panel sung the praises, overwhelmingly, of local, independent, traditional boozers over anything too fancy or clever. Several, including photographer James Harvey-Kelly and antipodean tailor Patrick Johnson, gave a nod towards The Cow in Westbourne Park — which has been fighting a licensing battle of late — and its timeless combination of Guinness and seafood. In Mayfair, both the Running Horse and the Guinea Grill received some warm shout outs, as did the Camberwell Arms a little further south-east — “drinking the house cremant and watching the world go by on Camberwell Church Street on a balmy summer evening is my idea of heaven”, cooed style editor Nick Carvell.
Polo player Charlie Hanbury, meanwhile, was so excited by the question that he slipped momentarily into all caps: “I AM VERY FORTUNATE THAT MY LOCAL PUB IS THE PHEASANT!,” he boomed. “ONE OF THE BEST PUBS IN THE COUNTRY WITH AMAZING FOOD AND A GREAT OUTDOOR BEER GARDEN!”
There were some slightly more unusual responses, too: menswear magnate Henry Hales gave a nod towards Sporting Clube de Londres near Meanwhile Gardens (“it feels like a holiday in Portugal,”) while Will Woodhams, CEO of bookmaker Fitzdares, mentioned The Greek Pub (“A Ladbroke Grove secret”), and style guru Aleks Cvetkovic went for his local, The Shakespeare in Stoke Newington, “It’s fantastically ‘Soviet’ in its looks and appeals to the Slav in me — all cigarette smoke tinted walls from years gone by and heavy Pilsners…”, he wrote.
Elsewhere, Kricket founder Will Bowlby was joyously unpicky (“Anywhere that will have me!” he said —“It’ll feel a bit of a novelty drinking out again so I won’t be too fussy…”) But actor Henry Lloyd-Hughes kept his cards close to his chest: “All of my favourite Hackney pubs — but I can’t tell you what they are as they’d be overrun!” Fair enough.
(Honorable mentions also go to: The Ladbroke Arms; The Surprise; The Fox and Pheasant, Fulham; The White Horse in Parsons Green; The Scarsdale Tavern in Kensington; The Bricklayers in Shoreditch; The Selkirk, Tooting; Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese; The Woolpack in Bermondsey; The Cock and Bottle in Notting Hill; The Grenadier, Belgravia; The Prince George, Hackney; The Thomas Cubitt, Belgravia, The Palm Tree in Mile End; and absolutely anywhere serving draught beer.)
But what to order when we get there? Fortunately, our panel is long on liquid assets. While several went directly for the barley sodas (“Moretti” said Horatio Footwear founder Billy Prendergast simply; “a good cold cheap lager,” wrote James Harvey Kelly), most were in a distinctively continental, nigh-on poolside mood. “Lots of ice, Campari, soda, grapefruit juice, and a grapefruit wedge,” wrote World’s Most Handsome Restaurateur, Juan Santa Cruz. “I haven’t named it because I am sure someone else has come up with this delicious drink many years before me.”
The impeccably informed Charles Finch called for “A Martini Finch: freezing vodka, with a swimming twist and two olives on the side — dry, baby,” while Aleks Cvetkovic went simpler with a “Campari and soda — a little part of my brain still thinks it’s the ‘70s.” Francois O’Neill, meanwhile, announced that he and his team have been “working on a White Port Negroni for Frank’s Bar, downstairs at Maison François. I have a feeling this will be my go-to…crisp, cold and classic.”
Naturally, the rosé came out, too. Farhad Heydari — Editor of NetJets Magazine and founder of House of Heydari — said: “It’s gotta be a Cotes de Provence Rose, ideally from my friend Stephen Cronk’s winery, Mirabeau,” and there were plenty of calls for Italian-inflected spritzes, too: (“Apparel spritz,” wrote Henry Hales. “That was actually autocorrect, but it made me chuckle, so I’ve left it.”) But the most unexpectedly mouth-watering response came from Jonathan Wells, Gentleman’s Journal’s deputy editor:
“Shandy. But a very, very, very good shandy” he wrote. “Some proper artisanal cloudy lemonade — preferably freshly squeezed or bottled with hints of other citrus fruits. And it doesn’t have to be sparkling — the beer does that legwork. And the beer changes depending on where I am. Always something local, and if you go for a Bermondsey-style heavily-hopped bottle, the citric-plus-citrus flavours will swirl together to create the cheek-tightening, summer-worshipping King of all Shandies.”
Mirabeau Pure provence rosé
Cocchi Americano vermouth
Almost every single respondent got a little misty-eyed over the prospect of Wimbledon in the sporting category. Perhaps that’s no surprise — the world’s greatest tennis tournament takes place precisely one week after all UK restrictions are lifted, and its green and pleasant lawns seem now to be a shining symbol of hope and the true start of summer. Pimms, strawberries, fizz, linen, and the smell of freshly cut grass in the Long English evenings. We might even watch some tennis.
The Euros came in a close second. Will Bowlby was happy to jinx England’s prospects early on (“without sounding like a broken record, surely we have the team to do it now?), while Billy Prendergast is packing his defibrillator: “When we scored that free kick against Croatia in the World Cup, it was the closest I’ve come to an actual heart attack,” he wrote. “Here’s hoping for some of the same this summer.”
Cricket also scored highly. Gabriel Chipperfield, the brilliant designer and developer, was in a philosophical mood: “Sitting outside on a nice day for eight hours watching a civilised slow-paced ball game, where they get to break for tea, suddenly appeals to me far more than it used to,” he wrote, while Henry Lloyd Hughes, an avid cricketer himself and the man behind the wonderful NE Blake, said: “I’m excited to try and see The Hundred. As cricket fans we’ve got to give it a chance I think. People thought T20 was a novelty when it began — this could be a fun new development.”
Finally, Will Woodhams spelled out a particularly beautiful summer evening. “Windsor races, which Fitzdares has sponsored for the summer, will be the dream post-lockdown evening. You drive to Windsor, cross the river on the boat and have an evening of excellent flat racing (inc. the Fitzdares Sprint Series) with lots of Champagne — on a Monday! We are also building a pop-up Fitzdares Club in Winston Churchill’s old private box.” Giddy up.
There is a wistful, deeply nostalgic flavour to the cultural moments of the coming summer; a sense of never again taking for granted the quiet, more thoughtful spaces that have been snatched away from us this past year. “Perusing museums and galleries is one of the deepest urges I’ve had to quell throughout various stages of the UK lockdown,” says Farhad Heydari. “And so, I’ll be pinballing between my favourite spaces in order to quench my cultural thirst.”
“One of the perks of self-employment in the ‘old normal’ was being able to mark out a few hours on a Tuesday morning to take in an museum or gallery exhibition with no one else around,” added Aleks Cvetkovic. We’d recommend the mind-blowing Infinity Mirror Rooms by Yayoi Kusama at the Tate Modern, right off the bat (exact dates TBC.) Takes ‘immersive’ to another level. Elsewhere, David Hockney’s exhibition at the Royal Academy (‘The Arrival of Spring,’ based on the drawings he produced when he was locked down in Northern France), got a few nods, as did the unique Forest For Change project (a literal forest transplanted into the courtyard at Somerset House) in the London Biennale on 1st June. “First on my list is Tracey Emin and Edvard Munch at the Royal Academy,” added Gabriel Chipperfield.
Izzie Price, Features Writer at Gentleman’s Journal, spoke in almost broken tones of upcoming nights at the theatre. “I’d love to be there on the opening night of a huge West End show,” she wrote. “I can just imagine the atmosphere being totally electric as the lights go down, the orchestra starts playing and the curtain goes up.” Hotly anticipated openings include Hirokazu Kore-eda’s After Life (June 2nd to July 24th, National Theatre); Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days (June 11th to July 25, Riverside Studios); and Under Milkwood with the wonderful Michael Sheen (June 16th to July 24th, National Theatre).
Others looked further afield. Joe Kennedy (one half young buck gallerist duo Unit London) wrote how: “Art Basel Miami Beach this year (should it go ahead) will be supercharged,” while Jeremy Jauncey of Beautiful Places fame wrote about the Dubai Expo:
“Huge investment went into making it the largest celebration of innovation in the world and I’d planned to be there last October. Fingers crossed it goes ahead this year. He added: “the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum was also scheduled for last year, and I hope it’s going to launch at the end of this year. I love Pharaonic culture and the GEM is billed as the largest collection of Egyptian artefacts anywhere in the world — including some recent discoveries which were found in the last few years.”
But most just wanted to party. “Very excited about Notting Hill Carnival this year (if it happens),” wrote Henry Hales. “We have a bar in our Portobello Shop with Sapling, a vodka brand.” Will Woodhams said: “I’m looking forward to Houghton, which has had two fallow years (due to storms and Covid) — it’s going to be terrifying and brilliant. My wife is playing on the best stage of El Dorado Festival at Eastnor, so that should be a blast as well.”
Best to line the stomach, then. Luckily, there are plenty of places we can recommend for that. The River Cafe got several longing shout outs: “For Ruthie, the staff and garden and of course the food — all of it,” said Charles Finch, which pretty much summed it all up. So too did the Wolseley, along with others in the Corbin & King family: “Despite having an adept hand in the kitchen and making a mean Wiener Schnitzel complete with Leimer Semmelbrösel,” writes Farhad Heydari, “I cannot wait to tuck into one at either Fischer’s or the Wolseley or sit at the bar at Soutine and order some escargot followed by steak frites.”
Unsurprisingly, chop house for the ages St. John was mentioned more than once (James Harvey-Kelly will have the Bone Marrow with Parsley Salad and a Vesper Martini) as was Casa Cruz up in Notting Hill. Aleks Cvetkovic was particularly animated by the idea of Islington’s Trullo: “Chopped egg salad; the pork chop with cannellini beans; braised ox heart; linguine with n’duja and marscapone. I don’t expect to lose weight this summer.” Trattoria Gloria in Shoreditch also received a couple of hearty mentions, as, of course, did the wonderful terrace at Stanley’s in Chelsea.
Will Woodhams is excited by the prospect of the vitello tonnato at Harry’s Bar in Mayfair (“although judging by my weight, I will have to avoid the homemade mayo.”) Will Bowlby is looking forward to visiting “old favourites like A Wong, Perilla and Phat Phuc.”, while Francois O’Neill barely knew where to start: “breakfast with the team at Maison François; dim sum at Royal China, Jerusalem mixed chicken grill with a cold beer at The Palomar, a bowl of fish stew and a Guinness at The Cow, smoked eel sandwich and a vodka martini at Quo Vadis, plateau fruits de mer and delicious white wine at Scott’s — there are plenty of itches that need to be scratched!” Friends — let’s get scratching.