The great thing about London Cocktail week is that it appeals to the whole spectrum of groups that the ideal of cocktails seems to perpetuate; the professional who knows the history, science, method and technique, the appreciating amateur who has a more refined knowledge of spirits and science than the average drinker, the undereducated appreciator (I hold my hand up here) who doesn't really know a great deal about cocktails but knows that there's more to life than a woo woo and the people who like to pose with cute martini glasses and live out their SATC / Mad Men dreams (OK fine I'm in this camp too).
To pay homage to this prestigious celebration, I went along to Seven Dials with a date (first date). There are a number of things that could have made this date a potential disaster. 1. He was hungover from helping his friend drown his sorrows and I also got to bed late too having been for cocktails at the Gherkin (sorry I couldn't resist dropping that in somehow!). 2. He's from New Zealand and thought I was making up Seven Dials as a meeting point. I could think of better things to lie about but nevermind. 3. We both turned up late (although I was later, eek) due to transportation woes. 4. After taking the recommendations of the lovely people at Ketel One Hub to get some food at Kopapa, it then took us 10 minutes to find it when really it should have been 10 seconds. 5. Both of us were pretty hungry. There is a fine line from when I'm mildly hungry and pleasant to raging hunger and turning into a bit of a bear - I thought this is not something I need to be demonstrating on a first date.
Me and the date established early on that we'd sack the master classes and just take advantage of the sponsored drinks and eventually we did make it to Kopapa (32 Monmouth Street, WC2H 9HA) which somehow successfully creates an atmosphere of both feeling like you could schlep with your mates and hole up in a corner for hours on end gossiping about the night before but also the kind of place where you could take your parents for food if your place was a mess and all you had in the cupboard was an onion.
I started with a Watermelon Lush. Hated the name but loved the concept. Watermelon, passionfruit puree and Barcardi rum laced with Creme de mur (the undereducated appreciated in me has no idea what 'laced' really means in this context). With watermelon being one of the less sugary fruits, it was a refreshing and not too potent drink. It was served in a squat class but still managed to retain its femininity. It was the equivalent of a female horse-rider; hardy but still very attractive.
The date had a Wasabitini - awesome name but bad concept. As my tolerance of heat is low I would have avoided this anyway but it appears it was a bit hard work to finish. 42 Below Vodka (you learn a new brand everyday), cucumber, wasabi, yuzu juice and sugar. Looking cute and innocent in its martini glass but packing a mighty fine punch.
The other cocktails we had was something called the Mims. I didn't think it was a cocktail in the greatest sense of the word, it was Hendricks Gin (as a gin lover I had to see what the fuss was about) with cucumber, mint and St Germain liqueur (which having googled it I know know is an Elderflower drink) and the date had a Whisky Almond sour which did taste like sweets.
We then headed over to the Dial Bar (20 Mercer Street, WC2H 9HD), the bar to the Radisson Hotel because we decided it was too ambitious to leave Seven Dials. I don't know what it is about it but hotel bars always look like a hotel bar rather than a normal bar. The decor wasn't quite to my taste and we bought the average age down by a long shot but there range of spirits was much more impressive than Kopapa. I'm all for trying new drinks but when I spied the apple martini I had to get involved and I was very happily quenched. Apple martinis are very, very bad (as with all fruit martinis) because you completely forget you're drinking something alcoholic. The date had an aviation (unfortunately by this point I wasn't my most acute so didn't make a note of its ingredients), which may have looked pretty and girly with the hibiscus flowers floating in the top but it was pretty potent.
Both of us showed a good game at not being drunk despite having 4 cocktails each. I would like to think that my alcoholic haze did not blur my perception that it was a great date. It's great when a guy can be both a gent but also take the mickey out of you at the same time. It just reinforces my checklist that sense of humour is a must!