This week is London Cocktail Week – seven days of workshops, tastings, pop-ups, and drink offers. There’s far too much going on to be able to sample everything, so my friends and I have decided to stick to the cocktail tours on the website. This is how we got on.
1). Boyd’s Brasserie
A few moments away from Trafalgar Square, Boyd’s is a huge marble-looking room with several opulent wingbacked chairs mixed with Conran barstools and dining tables. Its standard bar menu is reasonable (if a little short), so we started the night here with the hopes that it would be a place worth returning to in future. The LCW consisted of a gin sour, a whiskey/ginger cocktail, and a fruitier option with pimms and mint. We went for the second and third options but was surprised to find that our cocktails were priced at £11 each, as opposed to the £4 expected on the promotion. The menu (pictured below) did not suggest what our waitress later confirmed, that only the first cocktail was a part of the LCW offer, the remaining drinks being “bartender specials”. Luckily, the bar manager accepted our complaint, saying that our initial waiter should have pointed this out and that it was his first day, and let us have the two drinks for £4.
Despite the menu farce, the service was very good and reasonably swift, the ambiance was cosy but classy, and the drinks were excellent. Boyd’s is in just the right part of town to be a reliable last minute pit-stop, so we’ll more than likely return.
There’s very little of worth to say about Christopher’s. With lashings of Jack Daniel’s, innuendos all over the menu (where apparently JD is worth upgrading a Woodford Reserve Old Fashioned to by £5) and club music, this “Martini” bar would probably be a perfect place for those in their late teens or early 20s. Their LCW cocktail contained Jack Daniel’s Honey, Limoncello and cranberry juice. It was pretty abysmal.
Christopher’s does have very comfortable booths (spacious enough to sleep in!), but for good quality drinks it’s probably worth skipping across the road to b@1 (if you like your drinks trendy and juicy) or rolling down the hill a few steps to Cellar Door (which is unmatched for its cabaret, vintage ambience, and outstanding classic cocktails).
An LCW pop-up, this cash bar was comfortably busy for a Wednesday night. Unlike several of the sponsored venues, The Bourbon Empire – sponsored by Buffalo Trace Bourbon – served a number of cocktails including Manhattans and Sours, along with a range of shots and bourbons to be savoured slowly. Although service was a little slow, my Manhattan was flawless, and it’s such a shame that I won’t be able to come back again!
Again, were I in my late teens, fascinated by Jack Daniel’s, and up for a bit of a dance with a posher-than-usual drink, I would probably come here. But, sat at the bar with memories of my bourbon cocktail still fresh in my mind, I could only watch in distain as the side-cap wearing bartender poured vodka and pomegranate simultaneously into a glass, sprinkled dessicated coconuts over it, and handed me my “cocktail”.
We poured most of our drinks into a nearby pot plant and headed back to Cafe Pacifico for a reliable mojito to wash the taste out.