The opening of Proud Cabaret couldn’t have been more perfect. It was filled with an assortment of burlesque performers, tap dancers, singers, good food and even more importantly for The Cocktail Lovers, plenty of cocktails. It’s a neat all-round entertainment package that should do extremely well for birthday parties, hens and the Christmas season. We were very impressed.
As we were with our next excursion… Any chance we get to while away some time with Mark Jenner at The Coburg Bar is always fine by us. So when we received our invitation to sample a selection of cocktails mixed with H By Hine, well, we didn’t need to be asked twice. After welcoming us with a stunning champagne cocktail Mark showed off his skills by redefining the use of cognac by creating a range of drinks not usually associated with the spirit, like a mojito with personality-plus.
We returned a few days later for Ms S’s surprise birthday cocktail strutt (so common to even contemplate anything as ghastly as a ‘crawl’). Mr G started proceedings at Cocktail Towers with champagne before whisking Ms S off to the new Fifth Floor Bar at Harvey Nichols for a glass of bubbles, followed by a deliciously addictive Highland Martini mixed by our man Ivan. Then we were greeted by Mr Jenner at The Coburg for cocktails and seriously good snacks (Michelin-starred if you please) before rounding off the evening at Milk & Honey. The fact it was Wednesday didn’t stop us ending the evening by mixing our infamous Vanilla Martinis at home. When will we ever learn?
We gave ourselves a day off (well, we’re not getting any younger, despite Ms S’s protestations) before checking out the new Friday Nights at Just Oriental. They’ve done a really good job transforming the downstairs bar into a Speakeasy: the barmen sport nifty hats, dress in high-waisted pinstripes and braces, better still, they really know how to mix a drink. We stayed for a couple of martinis and a few goes on the roulette wheel before heading upstairs to Just St James for a well-earned end of the week meal.
Covert drinking was very much the spirit at Bourne & Hollingsworth. It’s a teeny weeny bar, reminiscent of a cosy retro living room and serving a fab selection of fancy drinks. We were invited to the launch of its new teatime cocktail menu and naturally, we had to attend. What an inspiration. Both the bar and the menu were tip-top. We tried a Gardener’s Tea Break (Hendrick’s gin and cucumber, lemon juice, green tea syrup and mint garnish – Ms S’s fave); a Pirates Cobblers (Sailor Jerry’s and cognac, cherry liqueur and bitters, served with a cocktail cherry – Mr G’s favourite), and a Chimps Tea (Monkey Shoulder whisky, peach liqueur, lemon juice, Earl Grey tea syrup and an orange twist – liked by us both). All cocktails are served in mismatched china and come with a dinky teatime favourite like cucumber sandwiches, mini Jaffa Cakes or a finger of shortbread from 4pm. So much more flavoursome than your common or garden cup of PG Tips.
Last stop, the Donovan Bar At Brown’s. We’d been invited along for cocktails and a light supper at the Magic Of Motown evening, a new monthly event featuring live music. If we’re honest, the trio were probably a bit too loud for the space but on the plus side, they did pull in the crowds. And you can’t say fairer than that.
Bourne & Hollingsworth, 28 Rathbone Place, W1T 1JF. bourneandhollingsworth.com
Just Oriental, 12 St James’s Street, SW1A 1ER. juststjames.com/just_oriental
Proud Cabaret, 1 Mark Lane, EC3R 7AH. T: 020-7283 1940. proudcabaret.com
Words to the wise (or just plain curious)
“In Hollywood films the cocktail hour was used as a time of transformation, giving filmmakers the chance to pause from the action and develop their narratives. It was also, of course, a time for reflection and refreshment – as eloquently explained by composer Cole Porter who compared ‘gin and vermouth to the fountain of youth.”
Extracted from ‘Hollywood Cocktails’ by Tobias Steed.