I have this perception that East Asia has a very seductive, heady and intriguing side to it and the Opium cocktail & dim sum parlour, the jade door, 15-16 Gerrard Street, W1D 6JE (www.opiumchinatown.com) was a perfect visualisation of this. To get there, it's right on the main Chinatown street yet you'd probably never ever notice it, entered via a very unassuming green door guarded by a bouncer. I wasn't quite sure what the protocol was. I was half planning to open the door and walk in like it was my house but I figured that wouldn't go down well. So after the bouncer granted me access and I stumbled up the two flights of stairs (dimly lit stairs; seductive: yes, practical: no) I was finally inside.
So the décor was old Chinese parlour. Dark wood, lanterns, red silk, incense sticks and of course a nodding cat (at least it wasn't a Hello Kitty one).
I had a Hong Kong Island Iced Teapot (see what they did there) which had vodka, gin, tequila, rum, champagne, Chinese plum wine, mandarin juice and green tea syrup. I should have paid more attention to the fact that there were 6 alcoholic elements (to 2 non-alcoholic) to this drink and stop getting giddy because it came into a Chinese teapot.
So guy comes over (by the way, anyone from Opium reading this, just want to say the service was incredible. Every person who dealt with us gave us faultless service. Gushing over), survives the squealing from the table and serves our cocktail from a teapot. Oh the deception. It's like when you put gin and tonic in a plastic bottle and pretend it's water. Teeheehee. Yes I realise that made me sound like a raging alcoholic.
Sweet lord, you'd have to be an alcoholic to stomach that drink. I had an egg and cous cous for lunch (true story) and as such my stomach wasn't quite prepared for such a potent drink. It look a while to get through it. We couldn't even enlist our friend to help because the last time she had tequila she ended up on a bar in a man sandwich at a club before getting kicked out. Fair enough it was 8 years ago at uni but you never know...
When the ice tea was eventually finished, I ordered an Opium Cocktail No. 2. Appleton VX rum, wray & nephew rum, green chartreuse (a French liqueur made by monks), pineapple juice, lime juice, guava puree and home made velvet falernum (a syrup of almond, ginger, cloves & lime). I was already sold with these tropical flavours that I didn't even read the bit that said "Served bubbling with a ginseng capsule chaser and guava jam".
So whilst I was snapping my friend's drink (it's the Asian thing) that was served from a medicine bottle, she taps my shoulder and points me to my drink arriving.
Now that is a thing of beauty.
Not only was it beautiful to look at (amazing how dry ice just makes everything look like a Harry Potter film) it was tasty as well. I also loved my little Alice in Wonderland style teeny tiny bottle.
So Opium bar was a very successful pay day cocktail club. I loved the venue. The service was excellent. The atmosphere was great (and always a good sign when there's a big queue when you're leaving). The cocktails were deliciously dramatic and the dim sum (no photos - I can't make them look good on camera, squidgy food isn't my forte) were really tasty as well. Maybe line your stomach with a few steamed buns before hitting the cocktails.