Saturday, 27 February 2010
London Cocktail Club: New Evaristo, Soho
Dive bars: I love a louche lair populated by weird, wired interestings whose only brush with daylight will come as they slope home, bleary-eyed, at dawn. Take The New Evaristo (aka Tricia's); a gloriously unreconstructed late-night Soho pit preserved in 1950s aspic, it’s high on lowlife charm if you can get past the honk of industrial-strength disinfectant, a single green bulb that turns my date, Nancy, an unfortunate shade of sorrel. A slobbering, over-familiar boxer tries to crash our table: that's 'boxer' as in canine, not Frank Bruno. Drinks are rudimentary: a fiver for a large G whose T is dispensed from a jumbo plastic bottle. Music tends towards hellcat rock and rad skiffle occasionally played by a peculiar cove on a wind-up gramophone. The New Evaristo reminds me of some rat and roach-nfetsed New York dive circa early Blondie. Pitch your look somewhere between early Little Richard and club cockroach, Pam Hogg. Classier, but a dive nonetheless, is The London Cocktail Club; a new pseudo-Victorian, pseudo-members only speakeasy, thrown together in the basement of Arts Theatre. Dedicated to superior mixology, it’s fronted by enthusiastic young hooch pimp, J.James Goodman late of the late Teatro. Viewers of The Restaurant will recall him as the winner of Raymond Blanc's TV talent show in 2009. I'm fond of the floppy-haired fop, so let's just leave it at "well done, J.J!' - which translated into Mandarin would be ' Ho-Lee Fook; how did he manage to swing that result?' At his first bar, the cocktail’s heritage is traced via a chronological list of era-defining conceits such as the Daisy - all the rage in 1878; Great World War hero, the Aviation; and the lime cordial Gimlet, a martini drunk by Mad Men. Gibsons (1890 or 1930 depending on who you believe) hit the spot, especially at £7; and staff don’t flinch when some numpty orders vodka and Coke. Stick to the menu; our charming barman obligingly has to consults a G3 app for a Sazerac’s recipe. Alas, the result is an astringent brute, the only duff note to report.
The New Evaristo, 57 Greek St W1 7437 9536
The London Cocktail Club, 6-7 Gt Newport St. WC2 7836 8531