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Friday, 14 September 2012

Negroni Bar, Smithfield


Owner Russell Norman has made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear at Polpo Smithfield, his latest Venetian bàcaro a Londra. He's turned an old meat market storage facility - where sow, cow and sundry bloody carcasses once dangled forlornly - into a bijou bar. Don’t be squeamish: Mr Muscle has wiped all trace of Miss Piggy from the room’s original Victorian glazed white tiles. That said, I’m not much for getting slaughtered in a windowless cellar whose main feature - dinky antique carved wood bar aside - is a slightly menacing door leading to what I pray is only a kitchen beyond. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre springs to mind and, unless your father’s name is Josef Fritzl, it’s unlikely you’d linger long in such poky surroundings. Still, for an evening ‘ombra’ (glass of vino) or a Negroni before dining upstairs, I commend it. The Negroni was born in 1919, when the eponymous Florentine count asked a barman to pimp up his usual Americano cocktail, replacing its soda with gin. Here, Sipsmith or Beefeater 24 are deemed the perfect partner to Campari and red vermouth - specify Carpano Antica Formula for optimum enjoyment - in Polpo’s £7 version of the classic. Other Italian jobs available include Aperol spritz, Henderson (white wine and Campari), and Negroni Sbagliato. Literally, a ‘wrong’ Negroni; prosecco replaces gin in this currently molto a la moda alternative aperitif.   
Polpo, 2 Cowcross Street, EC1M 6D 7250 0034 http://polpo.co.uk