Baja Room at El Camion, Soho, W1
Head here if… You want to drink in the company of a London cocktail legend
With the look, feel and welcome of a visit to the home of your trusted Latino friend, this downstairs bar oozes warmth, character and fun. And the best bit is the drinks are made by London’s living cocktail legend, the great Dick Bradsell…
First Things First
Don’t get us wrong, it was possible to find decent cocktails in London in the Eighties but it certainly wasn’t easy. We know, we were there. In those days if you didn’t fancy getting trussed up and sitting in a hotel bar, you had to contend with embarrassingly named, shoddily made cocktails in places that have rightfully since closed down. Then Dick Bradsell came along. Like a fresh charge of tonic, he breezed into London’s bar scene and shook up much more than the ingredients. He made cocktail drinking in the capital sexy, cool and fun.
Zanzibar, Atlantic Bar & Grill, Detroit, Groucho, Lonsdale – any bar in London worth going to in those days, Mr B had a hand in its success – either getting things going or consulting on its offering. And we mustn’t forget his inventions which will go down in liquid history: the Bramble, Russian Spring Punch and the Espresso Martini. He’s also mentored some of our greats, including Nick Strangeway and Tony Conigliaro all of which go together to make him a don in our books.
Over the past few years he’s been a bit more low key, popping up at or setting up bars such as 23 Romilly Street, Circus and The Colony Club. Then about eighteen months ago he turned up at the Baja Room downstairs at London’s funkiest Mexican, El Camion. And frankly, we couldn’t be happier…
How kitsch, how camp, how delightful is a drink called the Pink Chihuahua (Altos Blanco tequila, freshly squeezed lime juice, orgeat syrup, freshly squeezed pomegranate juice and egg white)? It’s just the thing you’d expect to find in the middle of Soho. Don’t let the name or the colour fool you though, there’s no denying tequila is the star in this glass while the pomegranate and orgeat syrup sweeten it up just enough to appeal to both men and women – definitely one to order again.
It feels decidedly weird for Mr G to be ordering a Dry Martini in a place creaking under the sheer weight of tequilas on offer but order he does and happily it’s not a problem. Better still it is right in every department. Coupe glass, small piece of lemon peel and the temperature is spot on. The recommendation is Tanqueray No Ten and it comes through beautifully with some sweetness up front, a little pepper and a long, smooth finish. Leaving aside the feeling of being some kind of eccentric ex pat, or maybe because of it, this is the perfect reminder of just how perfect this simple drink can be.
Buoyed up on the tequila Ms S goes for the Tommy’s Margarita (Altos Blanco tequila, lime juice, agave syrup). Again, there’s no holding back with the alcohol – this drink is nice and dry with a lovely hit of citrus making its presence felt – absolutely delicious.
After the Dry Martini Mr G decides to get on message and do the tequila thing. Even though he’s already had a sip of the Pink Chihuahua courtesy of Ms S he feels that a new drink by Mr Bradsell has to be savoured in full. The drink is mixed by Dick with his customary, no-nonsense efficiency. It’s also interesting to note that despite having invented the recipe and being an outstanding mixer of drinks he still tastes his concoctions with a straw (a technique he’s responsible for introducing) and we mean really taste them – you can see him weighing them up. It’s appealing with a rich red colour and there’s a satisfying depth in the flavour with the tequila coming through beautifully in the long clean finish. Looks like he’s invented another classic.
And To Eat?
It’s Mexicano all the way with all your favourites like tostadas, enchilladas and burritos.
What’s The Damage?
Look Out For…
The legend that is Dick Bradsell, serving up dry wit, good humour and fabulous drinks behind the bar.
Ms S says
Perfect for after work drinks through to full-on, late night party action. Go in a group and try for one of the booths or if you’re in a couple, pull up a stool at the bar. And if you fall into the “I don’t like tequila” camp – do yourself a favour and give one of the cocktails a go and prepare to be amazed.
Mr G says
This is a lovely, friendly good time bar. Better still everything about enjoying cocktails in London just gets so very much better knowing that Dick Bradsell is around and doing his stuff. I hope he decides to stay for a long time to come.
Baja Room at El Camion, 25 -27 Brewer Street, London, W1F 0RR. T: 020 7734 7711. elcamion.co.uk/soho
Open Tues-Sat 6pm-3am (after 11pm members only)