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Monday, 11 October 2010

Cigar and Cognac Garden at Duke's Hotel, St James's

I'm not much into brandy: fine name for a Playboy bunny but generally, I prefer my native Caledonia's McEau de vie. And, I stopped smoking some time ago. So brandy and cigars - Wot.Evah! Gardens, however, I do dig (if pottering around with terracotta pots and a rusting trowel on my sun-trap city balcon counts) and Duke's Hotel, I like because  a) it does a stellar martini b) it's not the effin' Ritz  and c) I was once entertained there by two mad old society bints, gin- raddled 60s chicks who made a bee-line for a younger, svelte me, fancying I was available for hire for the sort of afternoon romp Dempster's column thrived on. At Duke's new C and CG  there are hydrangea and potted shrubs, but ‘garden’ is pushing it. A tented, heated space for twenty intimates feels more like a hospitality lounge at a corporate summer bash- Henley, The Open or Wimbledon. That, or the patio furniture section at Homebase. Its finest Cubans cost more than a night with a Havana hoor and for £340, the price of  Bignon 1800 from a range of VIP cognacs and armagnacs, she'd throw in her kid sisters and the old man's 1957 Chevrolet convertible for good measure. In truth, it all looks a bit Hyacinth Bucket and some of its punters look like they are about to kick her namesake. That's bucket not bouquet by the way. Stick to Duke's main bar or sashay round to The Stafford, I say.