The last time I visited my überchic friend Tania in London a couple of months ago, she was up for an ultimate cocktail tasting suggestion. “It’s a new discovery, a place that I regularly visit for exceptional drinks”, she explained.
So, weather was a privilege and a great opportunity for a long night walk from Mayfair’s Mount Street down to the heart of the flamboyant China Town. The bar albeit located in the fuzzy, central pedestrian of Gerrard Street is a clandestine small treasure: merely a narrow black door between the meticulously hung ducks on the genuine chinese restaurants’ windows and a variety of signs written in some unrecognizable language leads to the first floor, where the bar’s new-age burlesque atmosphere is uncovered in its own brilliance. The soundtrack is jazzy and the list limited yet substantial, with emphasis on cocktails, some of them containing aged gins and extra premium spirits. The first was excellent, based on gin with orange zest and juice and egg white, however it could not match my second one, tailored-made just for me. “Not too sweet, not too bitter. Not very strong, not too light”, was the request to the bartender and the result was a dark nectar of rum, liqueur de cafe, lime and some other secret ingredients, served in a hybrid of a deconstructed porcelain tea cup and champagne flute glass. Marvel!
“Experimental cocktail club” is an international brand name, counting bars in London, Paris and lately New York.
And here are some exquisite alternatives that represent a rather characteristic sample of London’s bursting bar culture, excluding the famous hotel bars. Staying down town, Marylebone’s “Purl” bar was one of the first that initiated Londoners to molecular mixology. Each and every cocktail on the menu will satisfy even the most demanding palates. Do not omit to indulge into the paired cocktail suggestions, which are more than irresistible (a hint: :Thumps up”: Beefeater, Green Chartreuse, Aperol, maraschino and lime with smoked chocolate soil and Prosciutto).
Heading to the hip East End the options are innumerous. “69 Colebrooke Row” on the homonymous address is one of the first molecular mixology bars even in the whole world. Under the guidance and the inspirational recipes of globally-renowned bartender Tony Gonigliaro is the temple of the cocktail aficionados with a rich cocktail list and staff of remarkable expertise.
In the same molecular and experimental spirit, “Worship Street Whistling Shop“, the east brother of “The Purl“, pushes mixology to its limits. There you can find some of the most complex cocktails, if someone can name the product of the biochemical reaction of Saccharomyces beticus, Monkey Shoulder blended malt whisky and Chapel Down Flint dry English wine like this, served in a Victorian squalor-like environment. Finally, “LoungeLover”, member of the “Les Trois Garcons” family, absorbs you at the very first glimpse with its top-notch, daringly mix n match decoration, combing exotic asian, scandinavian, baroque and rustic elements in a perfect balance. Despite the drawbacks of an exhaustingly long menu, it offers a noticeably holistic experience to the visitor.
Experimental Cocktail Club
13A Gerrard Street W1D 5PS
50 Blandford Street W1U 7HX
69 Colebrooke Row
69 Colebrooke Row N1 8AA
Worship Street Whistling Shop
63 Worship Street EC2A 2DU
1 Whitby Street E1 6JU, London