• What to drink

    There's a spirit 'Happening' happening right now on Tower Bridge.  An underground party, an assault on the senses, a bar that's part distillery, part pharmacy, part lab. So step in, if you dare, to the Bump Caves.

    The ringmaster is Max Chater, a heavily bearded drinks wizard, who while working at Charlotte Street pub, honed the 'Beer and a Bump' concept  - the pairing of craft beer with unusual spirits (think pork scratching and blue cheese gin).  Next he had an idea for a bar dedicated to creating unusual spirits on site using a rotary evaporator, a sous-vide and other bits of pharmaceutical gear.  "I wanted to elevate drinks, and create a higher experience," says passionate Chater.  With gentle-ish persuasion he got the backing of craft beer guru and founder/owner of The Draught House and Café Anglais, Charlie McVeigh. And last week saw the opening of Chater's dream bar.

    The dive bar entrance is swiftly followed with psychedelic wallpapered stairs and into a slick, dark basement with colourfully lit caves.  Behind a cage in the corner is the factory - where all the mechanics and lab equipment sit - ready to make the grog.  Choose your own tinctures and with the help of Max and his adept knob twiddling - just 45 minutes later, your very own bottle of gin is ready and waiting for sampling.  (Mine's delicious, with a strong gentian, peppercorn and lemon flavour).

    Alongside the beer and bump pairings, (try Pilsner, with a shot of South London-freshly-mown-grass-infused gin), there are also wild and fantastic mixed drinks.  Go for a Schiz-a-Colada - made with crème anglaise, distilled fresh pineapple, a mix of two different rums and on the side… a coconut flavour vapour cigarette.  And not a pink umbrella in sight.  

    If you're looking to knock back a few, Bump Caves is not for you.  This is a curious, clever, Heston-ish place for those interested in a full sensory, considered experience.  Though after all that intriguing sensory assault, you may want to retreat to your own cave the next day.

    Bump Caves, 208 Tower Bridge Road, London SE1 2UP

    Bump Caves offered all Vanity Fair A-List subscribers the chance to win a 'Spirit making master class experience' for 6 people, including an assortment of drinks and food on the night and a bottle of own-creation gin per person (total worth £594).  Don't miss out on future offers, sign up to the A-List.

  • What to buy

    Don't you long for a shop that sells a summer dress in summer?  And a winter coat in winter?  Instead of this crazy timeline that means summer sales have been and gone before the season's even happened.  Just try buying a summer dress right now.  And if you find more than a shearling coat and a winter boot, you're doing a ruddy sight better than me.

    However in my frustration, I'm discovering there are ways, they're just a little bit less obvious.  Try Muzungu Sisters, a company created in 2011 by friends Dana Alikhani and Tatiana Santo Domingo who love travelling.  The word Muzungu is Swahili for traveller. And their website and global pop-up shops, sells the best of their globe-trotting finds; silk kurtas from India, ikat sarongs from Bali, woven bags from Colombia.  Each product has been carefully sourced with special consideration for craftsmanship and welfare of the workers. 

    And the pieces are seasonless, which means you can buy a Moroccan kaftan right now.  Or a Kashmir cashmere leopard print gilet in January.  Or a Peruvian Bolero whenever the mood takes you.  Muzungu sisters is the shop I longed for.  If only more would follow suit.


  • What to see

    'Disobedient Objects' - who can resist the title of this new show at the Victoria & Albert Museum?  However, the show was not awhat I expected.  The naughty puppy title, distracting from the very powerful objects being exhibited.

    The show is a collection of objects, from the late 70s to the modern day, that have all been used as tools of protest, often very creative instruments made to urge social change.  Included in the display are vast inflatable silver cobblestones that were used to flummox police during the general strike in Barcelona in 2012.  Or the 2012 anti-government rainbow placard - the first time the LGBT flag appeared at a demo in Russia - that reads, 'We won't give it to Putin a third time'. Or the Burmese currency with a disguised portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi.

    I found some of the most moving pieces, to be applique textiles, known as arpilleras, created by Chilean women who had their sons taken away by the military during Pinochet's regime.  These were women who didn't feel safe enough to speak of their traumas, but through sewing these protest cloth pictures, were able to tell their stories. 

    As the number of protests around the world continues to increase with each year, Disobedient Objects is both powerful and thought-provoking.  And with the current global human struggles, more than ever, this feels like an important show to see.

    Disobedient Objects until 1st February 2015

    Victoria and Albert Museum, London SW7 2RL