Tuesday, 28 December 2010
Starland Social Club, Bayswater (NOW CLOSED)
Dine at Johnathon (Milk & Honey) Downey’s Bayswater baby bro’ to Clerkenwell diner Giant Robot and, if you ask nicely, chances are you’ll be admitted to the clubby pre-Profumo-style drinking den below, an intentionally shabby throwback to the 1950s - only with way better cocktails. Old record sleeves contain a list of £9 suggestions that include gin swizzle, grasshopper, penicillin and final word (gin maraschino, green Charteuse and lime). In the gloom and without my Mad Men bins, I have difficulty making out a hand-written list and ask my date if the recipe for coffee cocktail really does involve brandy, egg white and 'dirt'. 'It says port you prat.' she laughs. Dirt/ port, it's the only bum note to report. Off-menu requests are capably handled by staff that are up to any challenge - an accurate history of the drink’s origins eagerly volunteered when I request espresso martini. 'That's an original Dick Bradsell recipe' offers young Aussie 'tender by way of a history lesson. 'Really?' I say, not wishing to burst his bubble by telling him I was present at The Atlantic when Dick invented it back in 1998 (I seem to recall). Wines start at £4.50 and a fiver for fizz, and there’s Hogsback T.E.A, Little Creatures pale ale as well as bottles, juices and mixers from a not unreasonable £90. Milk & Honey members are guaranteed entry while 'local membership' (advisable) works out at around £3 a week: makes sense when repeat visits are a cert.