The London Cocktail Club – Review – 61 Goodge Street, London W1T 1TL
With a recent flurry of new (and fantastic) London cocktail bars (mainly in Shoreditch), I wondered what the new London Cocktail Club would offer. Anything different? One thing it had in its favour already was location – just off Charlotte Street in the West End where there are a plethora of great restaurant but cocktail bars aren’t as plentiful.
So before I descend the staircase with you into this new bar, let me give you a little background into its owners and their philosophies for the bar: The London Cocktail Clubis the brain child of two Jameses (who did indeed win Raymond Blanc’s TV Show, The Restaurant). This fact would be irrelevant, however Raymond is now a major shareholder in The London Cocktail Club too. We’ll get back to Raymond in a moment. Co-creator JJ, explained that the thought behind The London Cocktail Club was to create a “cocktail version of a great British Pub”. But what does this mean? He wants to keep the laid-back atmosphere, friendly ambience, pretence-less feeling and fun of a pub but with the touches of style of a cocktail bar as well as incredible drinks. Along with this they wanted to create a bar-snacks / nibbles menu that’s the perfect accompaniment to drinking with a classy twist (cue Mr Blanc).
As you descend the staircase, off Goodge Street, you walk into an intimate space (conical flask shaped) with room for siting at bar tables, at the bar or in the lounge area. The bar itself (drinks bar) is huge with a “cold kitchen” at one end so you can grab your food and drinks all in the same place and see it all being made in front of you while, you prop up the bar. Behind the bar sits some beautiful ornate wood carvings that surround the drinks – reminiscent of classy victorian drinking establishments. The walls are a genius feature, with traditional ties tightly hung (also matching the material on the bar stools) and stained chipboard, that looks like modern art. There is room to sit, stand, prop or lounge! And that is what they want you to do here – kick back and relax with some fantastic drinks. Yes you are entering a cocktail bar but minus the pretence.
Now to the menus – the cocktail menu is wonderful. It blends classics, with modern takes on classics and some genius food inspired cocktails. I had a Brixton Riot which was a blend of Cranberry, Lychee and Rum, served in a flaming glass and a spinning flaming passion fruit floating on top. To say it was delicious would be a horrific understatement. I could have had 5! The food cocktails range from bacon and egg martinis to squid ink sours and an Oyster Bomb – an oyster shell, floated with Jaegermeister and spiced red bull jelly! Simply incredible! JJ explains that they want to be “tongue in cheek and have fun with drinks; drinks have such a huge impact on even michelin stared cuisine so why not the other way round?”. Unlike many of their heavily priced neighbours, cocktails here are happily affordable starting at £7.50. JJ assures me that if you don’t want a cocktail they have some cracking bottles of Rosé too, if you want to let your hair down that way!!
The food menu is equally special. They have created, with a lot of input from Raymond Blanc, a delightfully quirky British Tapas Menu – including flavoured popcorn, meat lollipops, cup-a-homemade-soup and even Mr Whippy! All portions are for nibbling on and very reasonably priced (starting at just £1) and meant to compliment, not over-shadow your drinking experience and merriment.
The music is rock’n’roll, soul and funk (anything from Ella Fitzgerald to AC/DC) but to add to the inclusive nature of the bar, ask the barmen to put on a song and they will (unless it’s pop or funky house!!). Simple but very effective touches.The London Cocktail Club is perfect for mid-week after work / catch up drinks. It is a laid-back den, a fun den, a kick-back den, a genius drinks den, a delectable food den – leave your pretense and pre-conceived notions of a London cocktail bar at the door and head on in…who knows, you might even see Raymond munching on a Mr Whippy and slurping down an Oyster cocktail! One of the best cocktail bars in the West End? Definitely. One of the best cocktail bars in London? Yes.