Head Here If… You want to enjoy a drink at one of the stalwarts of the London cocktail scene
We’ve been meaning to drop in on The Player for a while now. After all we have some fond memories of lost evenings there once upon a time. So it was with mixed feelings we descended those familiar stairs…
First Things First
The Player first threw open its doors in 1998 and back then the great Dick Bradsell was running the show. After a year he moved on but it continued to thrive. Over the last 10 years or so its had its ups and downs. Downs such as shutting up shop briefly, and ups like Dale DeGroff coming in to refresh the menu.
It’s part of The Rushmore Group (the fine folk behind the likes of Milk & Honey and the much missed East Room) and they’ve recently spruced it up a little. It certainly feels like it has had a wash and brush up but it still retains the lounge-like ambience that made it so welcoming originally. Moreover there’s still an evident pride in the cocktails (they actively encourage you to steal the menu so you can study it at your leisure and order something different on your next visit).
There’s not a signature as such but there is a section on the menu called “The Player Favourites” and the Sosho Cooler (Findlandia mango vodka, white wine, muddled red grapes, fresh lemon and apple juices) calls to Ms S for its sheer unusualness. It’s nice, refreshing, dry, crisp and deliciously tart with the apple coming through and working incredibly well with the other fruit. Ms S is not usually one for long drinks but is more than a little glad she ordered this particular one. Absolutely divine.
There’s a welcome bit of chit-chat with our man about the choice of gin and he’s firmly in the Tanqueray No. Ten camp, “it’s great, lots of flavour, my favourite for a martini”. It’s served in a coupe glass that’s so cold Mr G can feel a thin layer of ice on the outside and it’s sporting a large slice of grapefruit peel – their recommended garnish. It’s well put together with a big, welcoming aroma, lots of flavour with the gin coming through nicely and ending up with a clean, crisp refreshing finish.
The Popbitch Popquiz is such a big part of the culture of The Player that it warrants its own drink: The Popbitch Cocktail (42 Below vodka or Bacardi rum, sour grapes, fresh lime, orange bitters, passion fruit, sugar syrup, Aperol, pink fizz) and this in turn warrants its own page on the menu, so Ms S feels it would be rude not to give it a go. Sadly it doesn’t really do it for her. Maybe she should have gone for the rum option as the vodka’s not really bringing anything to the party, instead it’s just about the fruit juice and Aperol. It is refreshing but it’s not one for her to order again. Thanks, let’s move on.
Now, Mr G likes a daquiri and he likes Campari so it has to be the Dry Daiquri (Havana Anejo Blanco rum, fresh lime juice, sugar, Campari, passion fruit syrup). Its orange colour has an almost nuclear fall-out intensity but the taste is anything but worrying. True to its name it is indeed a very dry drink – tasting pretty much like a regular daiquiri up front but with all the lovely herbaceousness of the Campari coming through in the finish. A very nice twist on the classic.
And To Eat?
The Grazing Menu is short and to the point with seven dishes including Rock Shrimp Tempura with orange ponzu and chives (£8), Pork Pie with Piccalilli (£6) and Shoestring Fries with sriracha mayonnaise (£4).
What’s The Damage?
A very reasonable £6 to £11, with the Popbitch sharing cocktail for two at £12.
Look Out For
The Popbitch Popquiz takes place every second Tuesday of the month and is described as “a mix of music trivia, salaciuos gossip and pop lore… with some great prizes and also some crap prizes”. What’s not to like? Details from firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms S says
The decor’s not going to win any design awards but it does the job, providing a warm welcoming atmosphere to kick back and relax. A nice place to start or finish the evening and one that would work particularly well in the autumn or winter.
Mr G says
There’s a lot of bar competition in Soho and a few of them serve decent cocktails but this still holds it own. Hidden in a basement with a discrete entrance, it retains a feeling of being a bit of a nice secret. Moreover, it’s comfortable, serves good drinks and would finish off the evening well when you’re in the area.
8 Broadwick Street, Soho, W1F 8HN. T: 020 7065 6841. thplyr.com
Open Tues – Thurs 5.30pm-1am, Fri 5.30pm – 2am, Sat 7.00pm – 2.00am. (Members only after 11pm.)