Thursday, 5 May 2011
Designer Russell Sage’s mise-en-scène at the inviting lounge bar at the new Zetter Townhouse Hotel is a triumph: a doolally punked-up parlour - think Miss Havisham meets Siouxsie Sioux - furnished in a raid on Steptoe and Son’s yard. Behind stereo converted Clerkenwell townhouses’ powder blue door, lies a seduction that’s only a few good-time girls short of the bawdyhouse you frequented in another life as a debauched pre-Raphaelite painter. In their natty neckerchiefs, the uniformed barmen belong in a Millais portrait; that, or on Dries Van Noten’s catwalk. Also referencing bygone times with a decidedly contemporary twist, the £8.50 house specials, courtesy of Tony (69 Colebrooke Row) Conigliaro, are cocktail alchemy to write home about. I say ‘write home’ because, once you chuck in reasonably-priced nibbles from Bruno Loubet's bistro kitchen - zingy Vietnamese squid salad, melty beef daube on mash, properly al dente pea and loveage risotto and generous charcuterie boards - and I’m tempted to make ZTH my permanent address. Top of Tony’s quaint quality quaffs are The Master At Arms, an updated rummy revenant for sophisticated sea dogs that incorporates a port reduction to mellow effect ; The Flintlock - Beefeater 24, gunpowder tea tincture, dandelion and burdock bitters and Fernet Branca; who’d have thought that lot would work well together? - and Les Fleurs Du Mal; a sherbet lemony absinthe grenade that sends my Parisian date into Baudelairean rapture, lauding London's 'fabuleux' cocktail joints. Thank fuck I chose ZTH, not TGIF!
49-50 St John’s Square EC1V 4JJ 7324 4444