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Friday, 27 January 2012

London Cocktail Club, Shaftesbury Avenue

Camouflaging jovial JJ Goodman’s culinary shortcomings, cherubic charm and killer cocktails with an apparent in-built ability to  anaesthetise any doubting critics, saw the blond likely lad emerge as the unlikely winner of Raymond Blanc’s The Restaurant in 2009. His prize? A partnership with the chef that spawned not a restaurant per se (praise be!) but The London Cocktail Club, a rocking dive bar on Goodge Street. Building on its success, JJ has just launched son of LCC1 in WC1. In a dark, vibey den that’s a little rough around the edges, the pose is Jack Sparrow versus Captain Pugwash’s crew in a Tiger Bay tattoo parlour. Punk up in vintage Westwood pirate threads and lay into Army & Navy, one of several Seaman Staines-friendly tots, tipples and grogs served in tin mugs. Nelson’s Blood - champagne, port and lemon - hits you between the eyes while, going off-theme, LCC’s signature bacon & egg (white) martini, like Marmite, divides opinion. Me? I’d sooner spend £8 on a sweet Manhattan - even one garnished with an actual sweet (a wretched Haribo blob replacing the proscribed maraschino cherry) and too heavy on bitters to technically qualify as ‘sweet.’ Other gripes: no silverskin onions for a Gibson; utensils steeping in dirty water-filled pot plonked under our noses; an Irish barman’s iPod self-indulgence (a 30-minute Van Morrison medley). There's already a buzz about the place and I’ll grow to love the place, I expect, warts and all but as ever, JJ, the devil is in the details.
224A Shaftesbury Avenue WC2 7580 1960 www.londoncocktailclub.co.uk