My housemates, Mike and I had all booked the day off work last week to go and see the new Star Wars movie at the IMAX. (It’s awesome, by the way. I’ve got a millions tabs open atm browsing the veritable galaxy of adorable porg merchandise, because I’m clearly an absolute sucker for the Lucasfilm marketing machine.) Afterwards we headed to the South Bank to absorb some of the Underbelly’s festive atmosphere before the evening crowds drew in.
The big draw this year is the cosy Rekorderlig Cider Lodge, a sprawling, pop-up just around the corner from the London Eye. There’s a Christmas market vibe going on, but the stalls sell Swedish meatballs and actually really nice Scandi-style bobble hats and so on, which makes a nice change from the usual tat on offer at these sorts of things.
For a long time in my early twenties I avoided cider because I’d only ever tried the overly acidic, over-fizzy stuff you get in big two litre bottles, but after some cautious experimentation in my capacity as a proper grown-up, I am back on board. Part of this is down to my mate Maxine living in Bristol, where weekend visits usually include a trip to the floating cider bar which dispenses industrial-grade scrumpy to locals hardened to the effects of 13% ABV apple juice. The other part is probably due to the meteoric rise of fruity ciders (Rekorderlig Wild Berries, helloooo) that make up a good chunk of my summer barbecue drinking.
That said, I’ve never really associated cider with winter, but the Rekorderlig people have a Spiced Plum flavour they serve hot, which had all the lovely warming effects of mulled wine but without the cloying sweetness. There are also cider cocktails and some unusual, botanical flavours I’d never seen before; the grapefruit and rosemary one is really nice and I hope they keep it around until barbecue season. (Rosemary seems to be having A Thing lately – dessert bar Happy Endings does as amazing olive oil and rosemary soft serve pudding.) The organisers have also managed to play an absolute blinder and somehow got Health and Safety to approve actual fire pits.
After a few hot ciders, we got some snacks in before we headed back home. A Belgian chocolate waffle was nice if a little generic, but Mac To The Future also had a little stall and their big pots of gooey mac and cheese are just the thing on a chilly winter’s evening. See Exhibit A: mushroom & truffle and blue cheese flavours.
It started really buzzing from about 5pm, but, unlike all the previous Udderbelly pop-ups I’ve been to, they’ve managed to factor in enough bar area to avoid crazy queues for drinks. Pop in for an afternoon pick-me-up or pre-dinner drinks and wear your cosiest garms (because if you can’t get all hygge at a Swedish hot cider pop-up, when can you?)
Rekorderlig Cider Lodge, Entrance off Southbank Centre’s Queen’s Walk, London, SE1 8XX
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in East London and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.