Head here if… you’re after a post-shopping drink (with views) close to Bond Street.
A great spot for daytime and early evening cocktails, perfectly suited to shoppers and after work drinkers of all ages
First Things First
God bless Waterstones for having the vision to house a cocktail bar at the top of its flagship store. Those who know of its existence feel justifiably smug to be in on the secret; those who don’t are missing out on one helluva treat. It’s the views that do it. Admittedly, they don’t have quite the same wow factor as those on offer from the Oxo Tower, Galvin At Windows or Tower 42 but there’s something to be said about imbibing whilst gazing out on to the rooftops of random office blocks. Picturesque? Not in a jaw-droppingly elegant kind of way, its pulling power has more to do with the visual pleasure of drinking in the urban landscape. And culture-vultures will love the fact that they can see the tops of London icons such as the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye (but only just).
It’s a loud, very bustling bar full of an excitable after-work crowd. Then again, we were here at 7pm on a Thursday evening so that wasn’t too much of a surprise. What does come as a shock is the length of time it takes to get served. The waiting staff – lovely as they are – have perfected the art of doing that annoying thing of looking straight ahead so they don’t catch your eye. Great. While we waited we took in the details: minimal setting, dotted with designer chairs and dark wood tables mostly set up for two-somes. Larger groups can pull up more seats and squash in together, or make a beeline for the back wall. The menu is fun and inventive with a good selection of drinks and entertaining cocktail quotes. Just as well, it takes your mind off the sl-oooo-ow service.
Once upon a time the watermelon martini was Ms S’s cocktail of choice – it made her feel like she was getting at least one of her five-a-day. As the sun had been shining and it was amongst the signature drinks on offer, she felt compelled to take a sip down memory lane. The careful blend of fresh watermelon, Midori Finlandia and grenadine syrup was deliciously refreshing. Although she couldn’t taste the alcohol (no bad thing at all), she could definitely detect the freshness of the watermelon, including the pulp and hints of green notes. With its simple garnish of a watermelon wedge it conjured up visions of lying on a beach, drink in hand, whilst wearing giant shades and a Roberto Cavalli kaftan.
On our visit Mr G found two ways to try his Classic Martini. My Man Godfrey is a Naked Martini served at the table and which could prove rather too strong for all but the most hardened of martini drinkers. Alternatively, there is the Vesper. Being in Waterstone’s Mr G opted to go literary with the latter, taking inspiration from the first James Bond novel Casino Royale. There were a range of gins including Hendrick’s, Bombay Sapphire and Beefeater, but the spirit of choice was Tanqueray. And being a Vesper it required vodka, too. The choice was Finlandia, Ketel One and Grey Goose – the last being the recommendation. Shaken not stirred (of course) with Noilly Prat, it arrived with a rectangle of lemon. The funny thing about always checking out the classic is just how different each one can be. This one was quite cold, but not cold enough. It was reasonably smooth but didn’t want to linger. All in all it was neither particularly good nor particularly bad, it was just there.
Ms S went for the Dusty Springfield (vodka, vanilla syrup, apple liquor and freshly pressed apple juice), described on the menu as ‘sultry, fruity, sour and tortured’. Did Dusty have a penchant for apples? That’s not made clear but they do mention that vodka was her tipple of choice. In any event this drink served long and garnished with five perfect slithers of apple, is delicious. The vanilla makes a subtle appearance, bringing to mind a very light, very summery apple crumble.
And To Eat?
Perfect fodder for after work crowds. Choose from an array of tapas dishes including Fifth View cheese of the week served with crusty bread and chutney; roasted chorizo with smoked paprika, garlic and basil salsa; smoked duck, roast peppers and pine nuts tossed with dressed rocket and crisp mushroom and spinach risotto balls.
Look Out For
The views, without doubt; tables with recommended reads; ingenious literary comments in the menu.
What’s The Damage?
Average price £8.
Ms S says:
Bookworms have never had so much fun. This bar may not be the hottest on service but it offers good cocktails, great views and a relaxed atmosphere which makes it perfect for women drinking on their own. Result.
Mr G says:
Perfect for a mid-week, mid-afternoon martini. Sit back, enjoy the view and forget about all those books you know you ought to be reading.
Top floor, Waterstone’s, 203-206 Piccadilly, W1J 9LE. T: 020-7851 2433 Find it here