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Thursday, 16 June 2011

VOC, King's Cross


The initials VOC stand for The Dutch East India Company in the native tongue of those former sea traders. It’s to their times and those Oriental climes - with a little help from the crew of the good ship Purl in Marylebone - that VOC, a new punch house in King’s Cross, looks for inspiration for its recherché rinses. Small is beautiful, they say; and the diminutive VOC is certainly that. A looker too - judging by the beatific smile on the face of coquettish Filipino star waitress, Mary, whenever she contemplates him - is VOC’s Italian mix-maestro, piccolo Alex Palumbo. Like Mary, I’m similarly smitten; at least, on a professional level. Passionate about his craft, Alex bids us taste his home-made bitters, infused rums, barrel-aged grogs and arcane flavourings retrieved via a ladder that leans precariously against a lofty back bar. Unaware he’s in the presence of the drinks industry’s equivalent of the Pope (my chum), and a serial Sazerac sponge (that’ll be me), his enthusiasm is not put on for PR effect. From a deadly arsenal, he unleashes killer Bergamot Grog (£9), New Orleans classic, Vieux Carré, and the liquorice-y Brandy Cocktail served in a chalice. A tenebrous tobacco-tone parlour, VOC could be the background to a Dutch old master’s portrait: thanks to Alex’s masterly mixology, expect VOC to be mobbed by discerning (Vermeer) kats ‘ere long. 
2 Varnishers Yard, Regent Quarter, N1 7713 8229