Perhaps one of summer’s greatest memories for London was the completion of phase one of the Illuminated River—an ambitious long-term art commission on an unprecedented scale: a scheme to light central London’s bridges along the River Thames.
Designed to transform London by night, the Illuminated River aims to light up the 15 bridges that cross the Thames in a unified light installation. Once complete, the Illuminated River will be the longest public art project in the world, seen over 130 million times each year during its 10-year lifespan.
Quite the inspiration, if you ask us.
To celebrate the awe-inspiring project, City Cruises have designed some art of our own; an Illuminated River cocktail menu. With the summer of 2019 seeing four bridges light up, we’ve been busy creating cocktails inspired by each of the illuminated bridges.
These brand new cocktails are not only available now onboard, they’re also simple enough to recreate at home.
To see the Illuminated River for yourself, book a Showboat cruise with us and perhaps treat yourself to a cocktail or two.
Inspired by the hues of Southwark Bridge, the Woo Woo boasts shades of pink and purple. With peach and cranberry juice in the mix, it’s sure to be a firm favourite.
But Southwark Bridge didn’t always have a pink-purple hue. The original lighting on the bridge, which opened in 1921, had more a blue theme.
Illuminated River artist Leo Villareal drew inspiration for Southwark Bridge from the desire to activate the volumes of grand ironwork and the cast iron arches with abutments and balustrade of grey granite which adorn the bridge. The potential movement of lighting—the possibility for it to go back and forth, as well as side to side—was also a huge draw.
Speaking of the choice for Southwark Bridge’s colour palette, Villareal says that inspiration came from everything that’s around the bridge, ranging from sunsets and sunrises, right through to the colour of the water and reflections, and even the teal colour of the bridge itself.
Recreate the Woo Woo
We have incorporated the rich pink-purple tones now found on Southwark Bridge into the Woo Woo and it’s simple to recreate at home.
To recreate the Woo Woo, you will need:
- 25ml Vodka
- 25ml Peach Schnapps
- 50ml Cranberry Juice
Gin, Apple and Elderflower Cocktail
With clean lines of shades of white, it’s no surprise that the Gin, Apple and Elderflower Cocktail is inspired by the Millennium Bridge.
When opened in 2002, the Millennium Bridge was London’s first new pedestrian bridge for over a century and now boasts over 400 works of art, albeit they are often easy to miss.
The inspiration for the ‘Wobbly Bridge’ comes from superhero Flash Gordon and was originally designed to incorporate a ‘blade of light’.
The new lighting, by Illuminated River, aims to create a pulse of light that mirrors the movements of people crossing the bridge, highlighting their faces and casting silhouettes that enhance the bridge’s structure, while preserving the inky darkness of the Thames below.
Recreate the Gin, Apple and Elderflower Cocktail
Mimicking the cleanliness and freshness of the Millennium Bridge, the Gin, Apple and Elderflower Cocktail can be recreated at home.
To recreate the Gin, Apple and Elderflower Cocktail, you will need:
- 50ml Cloudy Apple
- 50ml Gin
- 10ml Elderflower Cordial
- 10ml lime juice
The Tequila Sunset’s name should give a clue as to what colours this cocktail takes inspiration from. And with such warm tones, it’s sure to be a favourite for those partial to a tequila or two.
The tequila sunset is inspired by the Illuminated River’s lighting of Cannon Street Bridge. The bridge, which was originally opened in 1866, carries trains from Cannon Street station across the Thames and boasts five impressive spans which are supported by cast iron Doric pillars.
Although many of the bridge’s original ornamental features were removed when the bridge was extensively renovated in 1982, two brick towers from the original bridge remain on the river front.
Despite being one of the oldest bridges crossing the Thames, Cannon Street Bridge had never been lit before the Illuminated River project. Artist Leo Villareal wanted the lighting to celebrate the bridge’s often overlooked utilitarian character and monumental Doric columns, with subtle kinetic colours mirroring the motion of the trains passing above.
Recreate the Tequila Sunset
Capture the different shades and hues of oranges, pinks and purples simply at home.
To recreate the Tequila Sunset, you will need:
- 50ml Tequila
- 90ml Orange Juice
- 15ml Hennessey
A warm orange, the Mimosa is inspired by the inviting hues now spanning London Bridge—a bridge holding a whole wealth of history.
There has been a bridge on this site for almost as long as there’s been a City of London and it holds a rich history. It’s seen a varied series of events, ranging from heads of traitors impaled on spikes across the bridge, through to the origin of the ‘keep left’ rule when traffic became an issue in 1722.
The original lighting across London Bridge saw a gold, orange hue spanning the Thames, but artist Leo Villareal wanted a light show which responded to the continuous stream of movement, colour, noise, and cultural activity in the surrounding area. The simple form and silhouette of the bridge is complemented by fields of broad and warm colour.
London Bridge’s elegance and curvature is now complemented by Villareal’s vision. With raking light down the sides of the bridge, and the bottom also illuminated, London Bridge sees more colour than the other three in phase one, which reflects the heightened activity within the area. Although a range of palettes have been used across London Bridge, a subtlety remains due to the blending of each colour.
Recreate the Mimosa
Capture the inviting hues and culture of the Mimosa at home.
To recreate the Mimosa, you will need:
- 15ml Grand Marnier
- 45ml Orange Juice
- 90ml Sparkling Wine