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Thursday, 10 February 2011

Hawksmoor, Covent Garden

The Hogarthian mien - all toffee-tone wood, polished leather, Fanny by Gaslight gloaming and total lack of frill or folderol - suggests Hawksmoor Seven Dials remains unchanged since gouty Georgian gents in garters and powdered wigs convened within. In truth, the whole kit and recycled caboodle is but months old, a smart reconstruction of that epoch’s covert ‘steak clubs’, all popeseye, pies, porter and potent punch for beefy brethren. They’re big on punches here: bag a stool at the basement restaurant's Brontë-esque bar - solid, dignified and Heathcliff handsome - and let the knowledgeable chaps behind the (reclaimed) zinc acquaint you with Hannah Wooley’s Punch, a claret and cognac recipe dating to 1672, or various julep jars as enthusiastically emptied by her contemporary, Samuel Pepys. Served in covetable period stemware, rare retro revivals include Silver Bullet (a gin, lemon juice and caraway/cumin-y Kummel opinion polariser alleged to be Churchill’s killer slug); 1920s Parisian pash, Boulevardier (a Negroni built on bourbon, not gin) and, as well-presented as designer Tom himself, The Ford Cocktail, a Benedictine and orange bitters be-knighted antecedent of the modern martini. Trad English bar food has meaty man appeal and at around £8 a throw, I’ll be back to work through Hawksmoor’s hooch historians’ chronology of the cocktail, a fascinating read that invites repeated study.

11 Langley St WC2 7856 2154