The perfect place for alfresco dining in London’s sunshine

Since lockdown measures began to ease on 12th April, The Distillery Bankside has been welcoming visitors to its plush new residence for some alfresco dining and indoor catchups. The iconic destination bar is located on the site of Stevenson & Howell’s Fragrance Factory, which distilled essential oils and manufactured essences, flavourings and garnishes during the 1800s. The bar pays homage to its heritage by serving signature cocktails using home-made syrups, aromatics, infusions and bitters, all hand-crafted by the bar’s expert bartenders.

In fact, the bar dedicates an entire section of the menu to gin from across the globe! It features over 100 different varieties, encompassing fine old classics, vintage favourites, its own brand and new gins from artisan distilleries springing up all over London, including Monkey 47, Langton’s Number 1 and Dodd’s Gin.

The Distillery Bankside is part of Hilton Bankside – the first Hilton hotel to open in London since 2006. The 292-bedroom hotel is part of a new contemporary launch that’s reviving the Hilton brand. As well as boasting a 700-capacity ballroom and 11 meeting rooms, they also have the OXBO Bankside restaurant alongside The Distillery. The 168-cover OXBO Bankside is overseen by executive chef Ollie Couillaud. As well as devising a menu that really champions British produce, Couillaud has also created impressive sharing platters and bar snacks for The Distillery.

I visited recently to sample the new spring menu at The Distillery and was impressed both with the outdoor setup and the interior design. Plush brown leather seating with plenty of light illuminates smiling diners and impressive looking dishes. I knew before coming what I wanted to order for my mains, so I decided to kick things off with the grilled aubergine and courgette start to balance things out. The grilled flavours of the veg is really elevated nicely with sweet and sour peppers, with quinoa, cumin, herb crostini and coconut yoghurt rounding off the unusual albeit delicious starter.

For the main course I could not resist the griller sirloin steak. Writing about it now makes my stomach rumble with hunger for more of it! It was expertly cooked and came served with wild rocket, shaved parmesan, French fries and chimichurri sauce, which was an excellent pairing.

Upon the very friendly staff’s recommendation, I ordered the coconut, apricot and pineapple trifle, which in this tropical weather we’re having is a must. Especially as it comes with Oreo cookie crumbs!

Book a table – alfresco if you can to really make the most of this current sunshine – for a long overdue catch up with a friend over drinks or food (preferably both), and you will not be disappointed.

For more information visit