London is hip and trendy and don't you forget it!
It boasts an array of clandestine yet cultured watering holes.......it's just knowing where these sumptuous hideaways are situated.
Allow me to lend you a hand and wet your appetite, as I guide you into a world of edgy, almost borderline illicit such establishments!
Serving Number One:
Mark's Bar at Hix
Address: 66-70 Brewer Street, Soho, London, W1F 9UP.
Telephone: 0207 292 3518.
Opening hours: Mark's Bar is open from 12 noon everyday.
Last orders at the bar are 1.00am.
Average cocktail price: £9-11 each.
Formerly a below street level sushi bar, Mark's Bar sits in the basement of Hix Restaurant in Soho. Mark's is one of the coolest or hottest bars in London. Before you can get there though you have to find the restaurant itself. So, listen up people – once you get to Brewer Street look out for a huge solid wooden door. The first thing you notice when you walk into the basement is the long zinc bar that runs the length of the room. This 'chic' cocktail bar is decked out with leather chesterfields, smoky mirrors and ambient lighting, giving the place a very New York vibe. With a traditional bar billiards table and a cocktail list, designed by
The cocktails are to die for, and they have re-ignited new life into some real classics: From the 'Hanky Panky' (a gin based infusion created for the actor Charles Hawtry who asked a bartender to make him something with a "bit of punch in it."
When he tasted the result of hours of experimentation, he commented, "By Jove! That's the real hanky panky!)."
Then there is the Scoff-Law Cocktail (invented at Harry's Bar in Paris, this rye whisky based creation quickly became popular with expat Americans). Added to that is the delightful 'Punch a la Regent' (This drink is said to have been held in high esteem by the Prince Regent of the time, George IV, who is largely remembered by his extravagant lifestyle and excesses). An elaborate combination of PX Sherry, rum and brandy combined with curacao, pineapple syrup and lemon sherbet. Soured with citrus and lengthened with green tea, before the pièce de résistance - a regal topping of Champagne.
My personal favourite however is 'The Celebration', a 1930's concoction of Havana Club three year-old rum shaken with fresh white grapefruit, finished with a splash of Beefeater gin and a dash of homemade redcurrant syrup. It is simply irresistible!
Oh, and I have to mention the glassware, which is really cool and quirky, from huge metal tankards to teacups mounted on Martini stems and the odd vintage babysham glass or two.
Overall it's a great venue, full of old school charm, with attentive staff serving fantastic cocktails, but the atmosphere sells it! I was surprised to find a place like this in Soho, where bars can often be too loud, crowded and overpriced for my liking, especially on a weekend.
I will introduce you to more 'sexy drinking establishments' over the coming weeks and months........so stay aboard to see if I can locate you, your very own guilty pleasure!