Searcy's at the Gherkin
The Gherkin has been standing since 2003 boasting some of the best views over London, but annoyingly few of us have been able to enjoy them. Most of the building is office space, with the top floor or two reserved as a members' club for lucky City boys and their hangers on. But no more...
Searcy's, the champagne people known for that extra-long bar in St Pancras and a handful of other v luxurious venues, have taken it over to become Searcy's at the Gherkin and opened up the top two floors to the public. Well, almost: you'll have to book in advance because walk-ins are simply not permitted. And you should be prepared for some Shard-type security scanning on your way in, too.
The top floor is a bar, Iris, and so-called because the top of the Gherkin resembles an, er, iris. It would be better from above, but you can see that it really does, look:
The space is completely beautiful, of course, with lots of pared back monochrome and geometric shapes to complement Norman Foster's own design of the building. Nothing more is needed in terms of decor, considering the stunning backdrop provided by the city itself - and happily, the views are truly 360, so you don't have to jostle for window space like at Sushi Samba / Duck & Waffle down the road.
Drinks-wise, Champagne is probably the order of the day here (£13 for a glass of Mumm) and if you're not celebrating something already then by the time you get up to the top it will certainly feel like you are. But if you're not in the mood for some bubbly then I can attest that the cocktails are equally special and the team know their way around a bar.
Cocktails all inspired by and named after parts of London visible from the venue and come in at about £13 too; on my visit I tried the Kensington Gardens, a delicious floral number with violet liqueur, vanilla vodka, lychee, elderflower and lemon finished with prosecco that was almost but-not-quite too pretty to drink.
And I quaffed a good few of these too, but alas cannot remember what they were. Perhaps the Limehouse of goji berry gin, lychee, yuzu (for there was definitely yuzu), lemon and sugar. Answers on a postcard, please.
If you're peckish there's a menu of light bites up in the bar, but for dining you'll really need to have booked the Helix restaurant downstairs which is still utterly lovely and offers almost as good panoramic views around town, but this time you will want to try and get a window seat. I am yet to eat there, but if the food is as tasty as this poke bowl, below, then you will be fine.
All in all, it's probably one of the better sky bars in town: the prices aren't *horrendous*, you won't have to queue and the views really are spectacular. Definitely a good spot for a special occasion celebration, and a little bird tells me that they're thinking of doing SUNDAY BRUNCH, which had better be bottomless if they're not going to have this amazing champagne tower at all times. V nice, Searcy's, v nice indeed.