Secret Cocktail Club
Speakeasies’ are a trend at the moment, but as bar owners balance covertness with the economic reality of bringing in punters, some of the illicit thrill is inevitably lost.
Experimental Cocktail Club is perhaps the closest we have to a genuine hidden drinking den, and the fact it’s on the tourist strip of Gerrard Street makes it even more interesting.
The only way to ensure entry is to e-mail in advance, Tues-Sat before 5pm (email@example.com); phone bookings are no longer taken, and reservations aren’t accepted for groups larger than four people.
Booking in advance eases the passage past the bouncer and through the scruffy door: the bar’s two floors are a tasteful blend of fin-de-siecle opulence and antique shop chic. As the place gets busier, views of the classy interior may be replaced by a row of posteriors at the bar – certain seats are not too appealing.
But who cares when the drinks are so sensational?
A gang of clearly fanatical barmen work in front of a display of top-end spirits that includes vintage 1950s Gordon’s (made into a martini for £150).
The concise list shows astounding creativity but never lets ‘molecular mixology’ get in the way of drinkability: a St-Germain-des-Prés, for example, contains Hendrick’s gin with elderflower liqueur, egg white, chilli, lime and cucumber.
Cocktails are perfectly balanced and notably unusual; the fact they’re a decent £10 adds to their appeal.