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Thursday, 7 April 2011

The Piccadilly Institute, Soho

Giant Lewis Carroll-esque figures greet us outside the Piccadilly Institute, a Jabberwocky among gin joints. Its Twilight world tangle of themed bars attracts impressionable souls who pee their pants over R Patz but settle for drenched-in-Lowcoste-aftershave Olly Murs-alikes in too-tight shiny tailoring. Formerly On Anon - whose hilarious Canadian lumberjack cabin, now defunct,  was as kitsch as anything on Hi Di Hi -  the rambling pile’s darker new gothic trappings are supposed to design a fun adventure playground. I admire Damien Hirst-y diamond-clad antler chandeliers and Clinic, a crepuscular conspiratorial Dickenisan cocktail laboratory its white tiled walls lit cough linctus amber. Somewhere in the building's bowels, there's a Zen 'garden', I'm told, but my barnav clearly isn't working tonight. I settle in another of its half a dozen bars (called Noir) where my £6.80 ‘margarita’ is crafted by a blonde lovely in black rustling tulle tutu. Frankly, Desmond Tutu could do no worse: served in a warmish glass sans salted rim, it’s the vilest lip-puckeringly acidic trauma I’ve suffered since, off my nut , I once licked a lime fragrance toilet block to win a bet. If this is a margarita, my name’s Margarita Pracatan. ‘How about a dry martini?’ I ask, not unreasonably, of somewhere that offers cocktails. Ms Tutu glugs dry vermouth in a glass, enquiring cheerfully if I ‘want anything with it?’ Happy hour, I like... but amateur hour? My advice? Ladies, stick to Heidsieck (it’s champagne, not a nursery game) and dump Olly, Sex on the Beach and Lime Slime shooters for someone who’ll introduce you to grown-up drinking dens like Hix a short stroll away from this theme park aimed at the sort of people who watch TOWIE on TV...but not in an ironic way.