London's not short of quirky and unusual outdoor bars when summer rolls around, but one that stands out from the others is The Midnight Apothecary.
Run by The Cocktail Gardener, aka Lottie Muir, everything on the cocktail menu is made from plants and flowers, which are grown in the secret garden where the bar is set. Think rhubarb, wild lilac, elderflower and the like. Beautifully garnished, the drinks are sweet, and strong enough that you'll only need one or two to make an evening of it - all the more reason to go back multiple times and work your way through the whole menu. Hats off to whoever came up with the cocktail named Rhubarbra Streisand.
Forget the usual overcrowded bars, elbowing to get served at the bar, and not being able to hear each other over pumping music - The Midnight Apothecary is calm and tranquil. Queue to order at the bar, leaving your name with the bartender, and take a seat on one of the wooden benches or stools nestled among the fragrant flowerbeds. Your drinks will be brought to you when they're ready, by which time you'll be kicked back, basking in the candlelight and fairy lights, toasting marshmallows on the flickering campfire. The only thing missing is an acoustic guitar player, serenading you from somewhere in the corner.
If the weather's looking peaky, the bar heads indoors to Brunel's tunnel shaft -and if you're looking for a side of history with your cocktail, introductory talks by one of the museum's guides run throughout the evening. The tunnel itself is now part of the London Overground railway line, so no getting in there, but it's still a fascinating insight into an impressive engineering feat.
Entry to the bar costs £5, and does need to be booked in advance. Once you're in, cocktails are £8 each (or it's Happy Hour every Friday 5.30pm-7.30pm when drinks are buy one get one half price).
My tip? Get there early. Although the ticketing system prevents it from getting overcrowded, seating in the garden is limited - plus, you're gonna want to be right up near the campfire toasting those marshmallows. Due to the residential setting, last orders is at 10pm, so if you turn up too late, you'll miss out on crucial cocktail supping time.
The Midnight Apothecary is open every Friday and Saturday night, 5.30pm-10.30pm from now until September 2017 at the Brunel Museum. Entry is £5 and needs to be booked in advance.